A Beiing blast: singing in mainland China

13528087_10153781885782198_5515978226484355728_oThe People’s Republic of China (PRC) is really, really big. The second-largest country in the world by land area, the PRC covers some 3.7 million square miles. It’s also the most populous nation, housing an estimated 1.38 billion people as of 2016. The largest cities in China are also ginormous; for example, Shanghai boasts a population of approximately 22 million, while the capital city of Beijing is not far behind at roughly 19 million. Overall, no fewer than 14 Chinese cities count populations north of 5 million. (Note: various websites provide widely divergent population totals for these municipalities, depending on how such terms as “city” and “urban area” are defined.) But although you’d expect those sprawling metropolises to offer a plethora of entertainment options, one diversion that’s common around much of the globe is missing from China’s megacities. Specifically, just try to find a karaoke bar in the PRC where you can sing in public. In my experience, it can’t be done.

Believe me, I tried. But in the PRC, karaoke seems to consist exclusively of the “private room” establishments so popular in eastern Asia where patrons rent individual rooms in which to sing with their friends or business associates. In China, such venues are known as “KTV” joints. Now, in China this past spring, as is the case with most of my international journeys, I was travelling solo. For that and other reasons, KTV-type establishments are normally a non-starter for me. I mean, singing by (and to) myself in a closed room is not my idea of fun times. Yet during my travels in China, every single karaoke venue that I, or my hotel concierges, was able to find was a KTV club — even in the vast megalopolises of Shanghai and Beijing. (I also failed to find a bar or restaurant with public karaoke in the other Chinese city that I visited, Xi’an, whose inhabitants number just under 9 million. It’s possible that a Western-style bar with public karaoke might exist in one of the many other large cities that dot the PRC, but the absence of such a place in either of the PRC’s two biggest cities is glaring, and isn’t a good sign.) So what was I to do? Continue reading

Categories: Asia, travel, World Karaoke Tour | Tags: , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Country no. 33 on my World Karaoke Tour: sinking my teeth into India

hbomb in delhiTwo days before I flew to India, I had a wisdom tooth removed in New York City. That emergency dental procedure was obviously unanticipated during the time, months earlier, when I was making the travel arrangements for my 2 1/2 week trip to India and Sri Lanka. When I arrived at Indira Gandhi International Airport in the Indian capital of New Delhi, I was still suffering intermittent mouth pain (and the soreness would continue to crop up periodically for the rest of the trip). Because I was recovering from oral surgery, and because there are certain precautions that any traveller to India is advised to take, I was carrying a small pharmacy around in my daypack: painkillers; an antibiotic to protect against the risk of infection; anti-malaria pills that my travel doctor had prescribed for me; and Cipro, another antibiotic that I would take if I were to contract the intestinal ailment that’s affectionately known as “Delhi Belly.” (Spoiler alert: I did indeed succumb to Delhi Belly before the trip was over.) But the presence of an open wound in my mouth didn’t prevent me from singing karaoke at my earliest opportunity after landing in a new country! Additionally, one of my trademarks when travelling is to seek out quirky museums; and I found a suitably offbeat one in Delhi.

(A note for my fellow geography geeks: Before I knew any better, I used the terms “New Delhi” and “Delhi” interchangeably. That usage was in error. New Delhi is actually a section of the much larger megalopolis of Delhi. New Delhi’s population is a mere 300,000, give or take, while the complete expanse of Delhi (which is also known as the National Capital Territory of India) harbors nearly 18 million residents at last count. However, New Delhi alone is the capital of the nation and contains all of the governmental institutions. Both the karaoke bar and the museum that are discussed below are located in New Delhi.)

Karaoke: Bringing the sounds of Billy Joel to India

My Indian karaoke debut took place at a joint called Harry’s Karaoke Lounge Bar. Harry’s is on an upper level of a sprawling shopping mall, and while the rest of the mall was deserted on a Sunday night, Harry’s was hopping. Continue reading

Categories: Asia, travel, World Karaoke Tour | Tags: , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

H-Bomb on TV overseas

The World Karaoke Tour is premised on me bringing my karaoke performances to the world in person. But lately I’ve gained exposure in some farwaway lands without having to leave the United States.


As you may know, back in January I was interviewed by a Taiwanese television station, TVBS, while riding (and singing) in the karaoke cab in northern Virginia (And if you didn’t know about this, well, shame on you for not keeping up with my blog). 🙂 It seems that the news story for which I was interviewed was televised at some point. Here you can find a written story that the station’s website posted about the karaoke cab, which apparently accompanied the broadcast of the story. You may not get very far in that article if you don’t read Mandarin Chinese; but on the left is a screen shot from the article, in which you can see me singing in the karaoke taxi. I don’t know what the text in the article says about me, but I assume it’s something good. 🙂 Anyway, I’m still following up to try to obtain a video of the televised news story.

UPDATE (July 13, 2012): I spoke today with the Washington bureau chief of TVBS. She advised that it’s not possible for me to obtain a copy of the video. She did not provide an explanation (she also said that the video is not viewable online). Oh well, I tried . . .

The Philippines

The karaoke cabbie, Joel Laguidao, hails from the Philippines — no surprise, as karaoke is huge in that archipelagic nation. Recently, a Filipino news program interviewed Mr. Laguidao. Here’s a segment that includes that interview. From 1:17 to 1:28, you can see stock footage of a familiar person singing in the back seat of that taxi. 🙂

You may feel like you’ve seen that stock footage somewhere before; if so, that’s because it came from my first appearance in Mr. Laguidao’s karaoke cab, back in November 2011.

The Philippines and Taiwan are both on my radar screen as future checkpoints on the World Karaoke Tour; and when I get to those places, my reputation will have preceded me!

Categories: Asia, World Karaoke Tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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