SoundTransit is a collaborative website that features evocative and everyday sounds shared by people around the world.
The audio recordists who contributed sounds to this story are (in order): Tim Hayes, N. Ege Gural, Kamen Nedev, Matthias Kispert, Dmitry Urupin, Keith de Mendonca, Laurie Principaud, Arno Peeters and Seb Bassleer.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Say you want to visit Taiwan or anywhere else, but you don't want to see the place, you just want to hear it - and only to hear it. NPR's Neva Grant found some websites that let you choose a country or city, dip into a rich trove of sounds, and then transport yourself there.
NEVA GRANT, BYLINE: So remember just a few moments ago, we were hearing about those night markets in Taipei? You want markets? We'll give you markets.
Here's one in Vietnam.
(SOUNDBITE OF VIETNAM MARKET)
GRANT: Here's a street market in Madrid.
(SOUNDBITE OF MADRID MARKET)
GRANT: Here's a market in Izmir, Turkey.
(SOUNDBITE OF TURKEY MARKET)
GRANT: And for more a contemporary field, London.
(SOUNDBITE OF LONDON MARKET)
DEREK HOLZER: There's so many details possible in a well-done soundscape that you can create a whole mental movie around it.
GRANT: Derek Holzer co-founded the website SoundTransit. It has more than 2,000 sounds shared by the type of people who arrive somewhere, leave the camera in the backpack and pull out some audio gear.
HOLZER: And especially if you think about photographs and sound recordings - in a photograph, you've got a frame. And you can choose what goes in and out of the frame, but sound is everywhere. And sound is immersive. Sound fills up a room, or if you put on the head phones, it fills up your head.
GRANT: The cool thing about Holzer's site is you can book an entire virtual trip.
HOLZER: So what happens during this trip? Well, start in one place - let's say, Moscow.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOSCOW CHURCH BELLS)
GRANT: So you choose Moscow, and the website randomly selects this - the sound of these pretty church bells near the river. OK - now onto your next destination.
HOLZER: Well, let's go to China. Beijing could be really interesting.
(SOUNDBITE OF BEIJING BELL)
GRANT: So now we're in Beijing at the Temple of the White Cloud. Tourists are tossing coins at a bell for good luck. And on your way to Beijing, if you want to build in some stopovers...
HOLZER: We can go via San Francisco, Utrecht and New York.
GRANT: Right, you'll be prompted to take the most random and inefficient route possible.
HOLZER: Maybe you go through New Delhi. Maybe you go through Lima, Peru.
GRANT: And maybe you should put on some headphones and then just glide aimlessly across these lush little islands of sounds. From say, the Bali jungle...
(SOUNDBITE OF BALI JUNGLE)
GRANT: ...To a pub in Finland...
(SOUNDBITE OF FINLAND PUB)
GRANT: ...To Rajasthan, India.
(SOUNDBITE OF INDIA DESERT)
GRANT: Yeah, that's a camel. Neva Grant, NPR News. Safe travels, OK? Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.