26 February 2014 : Album Cover and a Cave

The album artwork is done and I am the first person to play guitar in the world’s largest cave. I can rest contented now. 
It’s been the longest album cover design process in the history of the world, but it’s been worth it. A few technical and contractual issues with the graphic designer, but all systems go now. Can’t wait to share some of the images with you.
February has been a big month. I was also extremely privileged to be one of the first 100 people to get to trek and camp through the world’s largest cave in central Vietnam. The Son Doong cave is hidden in the misty mountains near Phong Nha in Quang Binh province. It was only discovered and explored a few years ago and only opened to the public in late 2013. It’s a beautifully fragile ecosystem with ancient forests 150m down inside the cave in places where the roof has caved in. In parts the cave is more than 200m high and 180m wide; a truly enormous space. It was humbling to be wandering around in such a place.

With some guidance from Ben at the Phong Nha homestay, a font of local area knowledge, I bought a locally made guitar from Hue and trekked with it through the jungle and the cave for 4 days. The porters slowly became more and more enamoured with the instrument around the campfire each evening. They figured they could play practically any song they wanted simply by strumming the open guitar with no fingers or chords in the same strumming pattern that may or may not have had anything to do with the rhythm of the song. By some stroke of luck, our grumpy English tour guide managed to restrain himself from smashing the guitar over the porters’ heads when they decided to play a delightful ballad at 6am one morning. There’s amazing acoustics in that cave.

The holy guitar remains in the last campsite of the trek, so keep an eye out if you ever happen to head down that way. And maybe take a spare string or two.