November 28, 2006
Please keep re-visiting as I continue to write, make new art, take more photos and continue to collect new inspiration.
TO VIEW ALL PHOTOS:
1. Click on a pic in my blog.
2. When it takes you into flickr, go to "Art Journey's Photostream".
3. There is an option for "sets", 1 for each country, my paintings and art-related projects.
Have fun! P
November 27, 2006
Originally uploaded by Art Journey.
MYANMAR: The most amazing, exotic and untouristed country I've ever been to. On top of having one of the world's most ancient cities in Bagan, and witnessing some of the impacts in an isolated country under military rule, the Burmese are the most friendliest and honest people of all.
My route took me on a bus from the capital of Yangon (Rangoon) to Mandalay, part train ride over the gorge to Hsipaw and a flight over to the mountain hill tribes in Kengtung. Along the way experiencing the water festival for New Years. After a few days in the lovely setting of Inle Lake, I took one of my most difficult days of transport over to Bagan. But that didn't top the events that happened on the over-night bus ride back to Yangon.
A ride in anything to anywhere in Myanmar is always exciting!
Originally uploaded by Art Journey.
CAMBODIA: Hitting only the two main traveller's stops, I saw a few sites around Phnom Pehn and the country's most prized possession, Angkor Wat. Thoroughly satisfied after a few days biking around the ruins, my experiences seemed to be getting much more impactful.
Originally uploaded by Art Journey.
VIETNAM: Cutting across the middle of Laos, it took an entire day to make to Hue. An incredible change of scenery from the dusty roads and falling apart buses to crossing the border and immediately seeing lush mountains and a constant view of water.
November 13, 2006
October 26, 2006
One year ago, I was in Melbourne, Australia walking through the enormous botanical gardens and watching helicopters take off seemingly so close to the skyscrapers. P
October 25, 2006
October 23, 2006
"Liberty Village adds Nine New Public Art Benches to its Creative Spaces. The designs are part of Liberty Village Business Improvement Area’s unique BENCHmark 2006 Program that transforms park benches into public art pieces."
"Like an inviting couch, this piece brings the comfort of inside to outside by using historical imagery to form a photographic homage to Liberty Village."
Story by Christopher Hume, Toronto Star:
August 17, 2006
In association with the Brampton Arts Council, visual, performing and literary artists will be showcased for the opening of the New Rose Theater. Performances will be held on stage and the grand lobby will feature displays.
Would love if you came to say hello, it's also my birthday weekend!!
New Brampton Rose Theater
Saturday 9th & Sunday 10th of September
12 noon to 6pm each day
For more info:
July 25, 2006
The creative juices are flowing and makes Toronto seem like a new city. Almost three months into my return home, a lot has happened. Visiting inspiring galleries and talking with artists full of ideas. Still taking tons of photos and the artwork is pouring out. Volunteered at the Toronto Outdoor Exhibition which I must be a part of next year. Coming soon, there are a couple opportunities to display my work and I'm looking into possibilities for my first exhibition, so stay tuned! There will be a slideshow and everything!
May 03, 2006
And now I spend my last Singapore dollars on a great katsu set and mint-choc ice cream. It all ends well :) P
May 01, 2006
Myanmar is a fantastic country with lovely people but is completely isolated in so many ways because of it's military rule. One day I find out restaurants are not serving chicken because there is avian flu in the country. As far as I know, the government has not revealed this. The next day I find out through a traveller that bombs went of in the capital. With no English newspaper or phones working and limited access to electricity only a few hours each night, there was little to go on. From a few conversations of broken English, I found out nobody was hurt and all flights were on schedule. Then we get stuck on a bus for 5 hours in the middle of the night. The reasons for all my questions being, we have a flat tire, the driver is sleeping, the roads are closed, there is an accident. 100 buses later I see whatever it is, is a pretty big deal.
In a quick summary of what first comes to mind, Myanmar is: huge smiles on everyone of all ages, hands that wave hellos so enthusiastically you think their arms are going to fall off, endless checkpoints to record passports and citizenships, poor mountain villages living only off the land, colourfully embroidered longyi and decorated lacquerware, pick up trucks with as many people crammed in as possible, a New Year's water festival when nobody is allowed to stay dry, mouthfuls of betel nuts and stained teeth, thousands of pagodas and temples filled with ancient paintings, a massive shallow lake with a most unique reflecting blue, deliciously brewed Myanmar tea with a layer of sweet milk, warm chipatis and bowls of different curries, novice monks in red throwing yellow petals in the air, shimmering flowered umbrellas in Yangon, horse drawn carriages bringing you back several decades, calling from a phone sitting on a wooden table on the sidewalk, roads that are never without a bump, extremely uncomfortable but absolutely interesting transport...
To be continued.
April 07, 2006
April 05, 2006
Out of Siam Reap, the paved road ended and turned into bright orange dust with gravel and pot holes. The land was so flat with only a few short, gray bumps far away along the horizon. The Norwegian vegetarian described with enthusiasm her 15 course cobra dinner. The Canadian on my left listed the most unbelievable unluckiness she's had during only 1 month of travel.
Bordering a field to our right were red danger signs with the skull and crossbones labelling a landmine area. 2 boys were playing in there. 2 people die and 7 are injured every single day in Cambodia due to landmines. P
April 01, 2006
The size is staggering and the workmanship unbelievable. Trying to imagine how many people it took to build and then how many artists to carve the intricate reliefs and patterns. Huge blocks stacked into steep staircases and tall, arched walls. Details covered all surfaces and sculptures. Large, smiling faces of Bayon on 4 sides of each tower. So many parts shifting and broken and fallen and angled. Tree roots mangled between Ta Prohm's cracks and doorways. Piles of puzzle pieces not yet solved. Preah Khan heads stolen from the railing of men holding a snake. Walls before moats curved on the edges of missing sections. Framed landscapes between open windows. Baphuon's maze of tiered reliefs of 9 headed snakes and dancing women.
Built between the 9th and 13th centuries, I wonder what colour the blackened and mossed covered stone looked like. How each carving looked without parts cut out, cracked or worn away. The sounds of intense jungle, uncleared the way it looked in the eyes of the French explorer. But even still, what remains now, is the most impressive thing I've ever seen. P
March 29, 2006
We end up at the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek where all the victims from S21 were found. Large holes, surprisingly very close to each other used to be filled with skeletons. The largest, not looking so large, contained over 400 people. Torn clothes still clung into the earth. Piles of tibias and femurs by each sign. A tree where children were beaten. A tree that had contained a microphone, used to muffle the sounds of pain.
In the opposite direction of the city was a completely different atmosphere. Passed several markets and schools through a Muslim area and stopped for a refreshing glass of sugar cane juice. Further North, we saw more countryside. Fields of opened pink lotus and the river weaving in and out of view. The flat plains were interrupted by only a few mountains clumped in the distance. The peak was the tops of temples, Oudong, the old capital. Lots of chicken for lunch including liver tasting lungs, lumpy boiled skin and skinny heads and legs. Then the climb up the stairs giving better views of the countryside below, getting closer to the chanting ceremony at the topmost temple. I guiltily handed over donations and gratefully accepted a free chat with monk nuns and kids. Odd fabrics cut into triangles, decorating the ceilings. Young monks laughing at me as I dash past the jumping monkeys. A cool ride home, happy to stand again. P
March 28, 2006
Isles of 4x6 portraits showed expressions of sadness, helplessness and fright. They dared not scream, cry, laugh or disobey. Brick walls slanting creating narrow cells only a couple feet wide. Silence is defeaning, ghosts not resting. Reflections of myself and a photo behind, blends into the wide eyes of a young girl. Bright white patterns from the holes in the walls, subtracts parts of faces. Blood stains still existing on the floor. I find art in the numbers and lines painted by the doorways. The coils of barbed wire and holes in the doors. Today, grass grows and white flowers speckle the trees. Yesterday in the past hopefully never to return. P
Then came the 'wonderful day on the Mekong Delta tour'. Two days of hot boats on a windless river, cramped buses filled with dust from the pot-holed roads, waiting for late buses, a shared room that was stiffling with no fan or windows that would open, getting up early, a 'free breakfast' of bread, arriving late, driving around trying to find a room. I absolutely refuse to get on another boat or take another tour! But the hassle of the last few days were reduced to a distant memory. The trail we had created within the first hour of entering Phnom Penh was a string of moto drivers, hotel workers and waiters that brought our separated group of four back together again. Cambodia is filled up to the rim of enormously helpful people. P
March 25, 2006
Tried steamed tapioca and watched people try some shots with an AK47. The recreations of traps with deadly-spiked bamboo waiting at the bottom of hidden pits. Metal spikes made from recylced bullets casings. The dried leaves in the regrowth of a new forest crunched as I stepped forward. I was silenced by my thoughts of what it would have been like only 31 years ago. Feeling a little unsettled as the gun shots crackled in the distance. Feeling disturbed at the hundreds of photos dipicting destruction, death and torture. And the continued suffering of the after effects of agent orange. Not only in the men walking around with crutches, but also the soldier's children who inherited the painful disfigurements of this chemical. P
March 22, 2006
I arrived ready for a snack and asked a woman what she had hidden underneath her silver pot's lid. They looked like clear wontons with a shrimp paste inside some and a yellow something in the others. Served cold in a clear sauce they were delicious. After looking at Buddha, I was then invited over by two friendly men eating something like yogurt. In 2 seconds I was sitting on a little stool at their little table, had a cup of this white pudding substance, a cup of tea, and we all laughed about Vietnam traffic and cold Canadian winters.
Then it was time to climb up the pagoda. A spiral staircase covered with broken tea cups, saucers, vases and bottles. The colourful glass and patterned ceramics crunched beneath my feet and fragments fell on my head from floors above. No "under constuction" or "do not enter" signs to be seen. Guys were chipping away, moulding these pieces into tiles that fit into the wall's mosaic of flowers and dragons. I squeezed through scaffolding, walked on their materials and kept asking "Is it ok for me to go up?" Yup, thumbs up, hellos and how are yous all the way! The view was spectacular, I was on top of Dalat. 1500-something metres above sea level and all I could see were rows of salad ingredients, a pastel Catholic style graveyard, stacked French styled homes and the hilly horizon spiralling all around. I ended the day with another bowl of pho. Shared another little table with a family this time, the sweet 2 year old delighted to wave to a stranger. P
March 21, 2006
Eric, NY, on his moto and I toured around the fresh, cooler climate of the city and it's surroundings set atop some mountains. There are a few volcanos in the area that have provided rich, orange earth to grow fields of organic vegetables. So crispy and flavourful in the local pho (soup pronounced "fu"). Groups of coffee, avacado, jackfruit and pine trees. Lettuce, basil, mint, beans, strawberries and mulberries planted in lines. Roses and hydrangeas growing tall and brightly under the plastic-roofed green houses.
Walked behind a roaring waterfall with the spray swirling in circles. Was grossed out by a few bamboo walls filled with crawling white silk worms building their cocoons. Admired the factory where they speedily unravelled the oval shapes into large wheels of pure, natural silk. Walked through long lines of hanging bags of sawdust for the growing clusters of mushrooms. Was facinated by the young, uncomplaining children weaving baskets so fast and accurately. Wandered through the maze of twisting hallways and unusual shaped rooms of the "crazy house", designed by the daughter of Vietnam's previous leader. Was inspired by the quantity of paintings created by the "crazy monk" who will one day travel the world off his profits to visit tourists who bought his paintings. Shared a delicious hot pot of simmering fresh greens, meats, fish and noodles in a tasty broth. Ah... P
March 20, 2006
I wasn't sitting on the beach alone very long before I had a young woman custom fitting two anklets on my left foot, an older woman selling flat-seeded crispy bread lying asleep on my left, a bright kakhi green costumed security guard on my right, a girl and her cousin squatting behind me to say hello and then the rest of her large family to later join and circle all around. A very relaxed and quiet little gathering we had formed, keeping shaded from the pines behind us. They mostly just stared at me until I looked and we smiled at each other. I get a few answers from my questions but mostly there is just laughter from not understanding. My sudden group of friends gradually left and soon it was just me again, to finish my drawing of the shaped trees in the park. A garden of dark cubes, cylinders, cones and spheres, up in the air, supported by their mangly branches. P
March 17, 2006
The kids are the best and want to say hello because it's just too funny. One hopped on my bike and another pushed us along. One at a time, a few girls ended up peddaling beside me to ask a couple questions, or not. A little girl showed me how big she could blow up her corn balloon. High-schoolers invited me under their shelter while we drank water and waited for the storm to die out. The cutest 3 boys sat infront of their house, behind a house shouting "Hello, hello, hello!!!". We had a small conversation and they agreed to a photo. But they are the only ones I have met who didn't want to see their picture. Their unsure expressions and no movement to come over made me wonder if they have even seen a digital camera before? Anyway, great photo!
The day was super humid as I rode around. Fields behind the villages grew various plantations in the corner of the Dakbla River. A couple Rung houses appeared above the tree tops. They are traditional meeting places that are recognized by a massive, tall roof. The height represents power, not sure if there's a physical reason for it. Sat at a teeny table on the sidewalk while the rain subsided. Was intrigued to try a savoury pancake with bean sprouts inside, made on 5 little burners right beside me. My mission was to find shampoo in the market. I successfully did not by hair dye but unsuccessfully gained a bottle of conditioner. My favourite person was An, an artist who has designed a cafe of carved sculptures, hanging gongs and plants all over. He lost his father in the war. He says my drawings remind him of a French artist who came to Kon Tum, named Soffie. P
All hues of yellow and spring green fields streaked brightly through the wet windows. Pleased, I thought it worked out that it rained on a day I was only in transit. Displeased, it slowed us down by 2 hours and the driver broke his promise to drop me at the bus station. "Take moto. 6km. Over there." The store owner I was disposed infront of said "You walk. 50m. Over there." So I walk over there to find a bus sign but no buses. A girl shook her head and offered me a ride but we head in the opposite direction. I ask her why we go this way but my question fades into the loud crinkle of her plastic raincoat and the heavening rain ticking on her helmet. She stops at a different bus sign and talks to the man sitting under it. After some discussion they decide for me to get on his moto, brushing off "How much?" because nobody speaks English.
We continue in the wrong direction, past the same rice paddies I saw half an hour earlier. Probably 6km but not the right way! A family stands, brother, girl holding baby, man, woman, lined up outside a wooden house. 50,000 dong for the moto, an argument that won not in my favour. "Where is the bus station?" Everybody laughs. I stand in the downpour, my own blue plastic raincoat bought too late because I was already wet. The woman keeps pulling out a small, red plastic stool. Why would I want to sit here? They all talk to me in rapid Vietnamese, pointing and laughing along the way. I feel ripped off and abandoned on some dirt road with these amused strangers. I ask for a toilet and they point down a narrow lane between 2 buildings. I stumble over broken bricks and strewn garbage to find a corner with a view of some dreary river. The cool rain falls in huge droplets down my back and face, mixing with the warm water from my eyes.
I felt horrible and everyone seems to be laughing at me. But seems is what it was and their way of helping. I began to see minivans pass by... Hanoi, Saigon, Kon Tum. The young student who writes in his book said 3 hours but maybe he meant 3 minutes. The driver said that way but maybe he meant this way. I do not know, I will not know! I feel ridiculous not able to speak their language. It could have been a funny adventure. But these are the days I don't want to be the only single traveller on the bus, nevermind the only traveller to go to Kon Tum. My travel instincts were wrong and I expect them to be better by now. So now stuck in Qui Nhon I try to decide if it's worth going to this off-the-beaten-track town. P
My Son is rated as one of the most important sites in Southeast Asia, along with Bagan in Myanmar, Borobudur in Java and Ankor Wat in Cambodia. However, it really is a ruined ruins, many of the monuments completely destroyed by the war in '69. A few black corners of walls perched on a moundy green hill. Small stone peices arranged into columns horizontally on the ground. Cob webs and grass spreading across and growing into the layered bricks. Parts of washed down reliefs in the broken walls. Beheaded figures and lonely feet mounted to walls. Streams of sweat dribbled down to my feet even in the coolness of an unlit temple, protected from the beating sun. P
March 14, 2006
Very upsetting, I have lost my lovely Japanese hat. It has served me well over the past 5 years but it will still be sadly missed. I think the tragedy happened in the chaos of the crowded market of bubbly cucumbers, flat mandarins and layers of bean sprouts upon baskets of cabbage. When saying "no thank you" to every offer of necklaces, t-shirts and ceramic plates. When trembling as a poor man begs with no eyes and no arms. When paying a coin for a photo to the laughing woman with bright yellow flowers turning warmer in the late afternoon sun. When the pesky little girls and boys who hit me when I don't buy their cards. Perhaps, I can find a collapsable Vietnamese cone hat? P
My opinion about the Vietnamese gets stronger every time I see another one smile with pure delight. They are truely the sweetest people I have ever met. Many will say hello when they see me. Other's stares transform into outbreaks of laughter when I say hello first. Maybe it's just Hue, but they do not get upset or lose interest when I don't want to buy. They just genuinely seem to enjoy having an English conversation. Women squeeze my arms and look deep in my eyes. Girls hold my hands and giggle with me. Cyclo drivers ride beside and ask what I did today (knowing I do not need a ride). Little boys jump up and down when I tell them my name. They are so lovely!
Oh ya, I saw a Japanese covered bridge, 7km out of town, past enormous rice paddies. But it was definitely about the journey today. The best (and pretty much only) part of my day was passing people and watching for their amazing reactions. P
March 08, 2006
cut petals and leaves colouring the sidewalks.
Streets filled with motos, cyclos and bikes,
smiling and handshaking, just saying hello.
The Forbidden Purple City was mostly green,
overgrown grass and scattered plant pots.
It felt so mysterious, enchanted and erie,
because in a gigantic courtyard was only me.
Classical music played on a piano,
a distant tune among stone-cold sculptures.
Windows were closed and classrooms deserted,
one student rides by on her bicycle.
It's weird and cold and uninviting,
like I've appeared on stage for a horror movie.
All of a sudden appear 3 male voices,
laughing together and saying hello.
They point in the direction of an open doorway,
framing an easel sitting inside.
I walk on over to see the drawing,
inside were rows of 20 more.
It's quiet inside until I get to the back,
2 students fine-tuning their accurate shading.
5 more people arrive, then 10, then 15,
no longer alone, they ask where I'm from.
I show them my sketchbook and take their photos,
we laugh and misinterpret eachother's words.
Time to leave, the teacher was waiting,
Thank you. A smile. The class resumes.
I re-enter the strangeness of abandoned ruins,
parts of walls, the rest destroyed from war.
These remnants of orderly temples and gates,
grew into a maze of walkways and gardens.
So much was gone but so much is the same,
as the outside city littered in flowers.
March 07, 2006
My first impression at the border of Lao Bao was a dusty mess and everyone wore masks. I wondered if there had been a new SARS outbreak but I think it was for the construction and/or pollution. I then got to have several tours of the city driving back and forth wondering if our bus was actually headed for a destination. But I found a few minutes past the city, the country transformed into an entirely different land from Laos. Mountain ranges became higher in numbers and in height. The grass was greener and the slopes covered in luscious vines. It was a breathe of fresh air in scenery and in the people. Each border official man and masked money-exchanger woman said I was beautiful (hehe!). The girl next to me giggled at my Vietnamese pronounciations and I helped her with English. Her, along with a new passenger also took great interest in reading my popular Lonely Planet! Motorbike-guy in Hue was tough to bargain with but took great care to make sure I got to my guesthouse okay, and with a huge smile! So many other happy, smiling, friendly waiters and drivers within my first few hours. And the beef noodle soup came with a heap of lettuce, mint and other greens which was refreshingly healthy. I love Vietnam! P
March 06, 2006
March 05, 2006
I laugh at the fact the bus stops at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Everyone stumbles out to find their spot in the grass or behind a bush to pee. I was so glad I didn't drink any tea this morning because that was our first stop in four hours. A few hours later a little boy ran out to a rock and took so long, I think nervous the entire bus was waiting for him.
I admire the fact that dogs are allowed to take themselves for a walk down the street. Cows are not limited to a designated square within a fence. They wander either in rows to a certain destination or stand unconcerned in the middle of the road blocking traffic. Small children appear so confident riding infront of their parent on a motorcycle.
I loved the idea of 3 hard boiled eggs on a stick, a perfect snack for vendors to sell through the passenger windows.
I ate a fish today. The whole thing was placed infront of me with it's huge mouth pronouncing "OHHH". I thought a bubble would come out at any moment. It was grilled with salt whitening it's body and tasted really good with the sticky rice. P
March 04, 2006
Tried out a weaving course at a Woman's Training Centre North of the city. They use the traditional looms to make silk fabrics, similar to what I see everywhere. Even with all the strings counted and the pattern pre-determined, it took a lot of concentration to remember all the steps. Kup patiently demonstrated the steps without hardly saying a word. Emily and I were in a silent meditation of: step on the right pedal, pass the black thread through, flip up the wooden plank, weave each row of coloured threads, push the threads together, repeat with the left, lower the bamboo stick to change the pattern, replace the wood, flip it up... After 3 solid hours I managed to create a scarf about 2 inches long. I think I will just continue to buy all my fabrics ready made! P
March 03, 2006
DAY 1, What I Expected: a 1 hour class, teaching art, communicating in english. What I Didn't Expect: Almost 50 children 11-18 years, no responses to my questions, only 8 peices of paper, 1 outdoor watertap which meant paint all over the ground outside. The Plan: Introduce myself as an artist and talk about things that have inspired me during my travels in other countries including Laos. Do a simple demonstration with watercolours and have groups paint a mural-collage using pictures and words to describe what they find inspirational about their village. Result: Not one person volunteered to speak. Because I used the mountains as an example, all 7 groups had a mountain in their mural. Nobody wrote any words. Used way too much paint out of the new tubes. The only questions they asked were "What is your name? How old are you? Are you married? How many people in your family?" My Thoughts: I never want to teach ever! They didn't like the class. Need a much better plan for tomorrow. I want to run away!
DAY 2, The New Plan: Have a lesson explaining what a noun and a verb is. Play Pictionary as a way to draw words the audience has to guess. Use the word in a sentence using at least 1 noun and 1 verb. The Class: At the beginning I had to place the white board marker in hands and force people to go up and draw. My sentence "I saw a turtle in the toilet today." (true story!) triggered one boy to write "Ross poos in the toilet." One child had a lot of difficulty writing n's and m's, and d's and b's but the class helped him by yelling out the letters one at a time. Result: It became a community effort, I'm sure much like how they live their everyday lives helping eachother at home. Each one spoke more and looked much more interested than yesterday. Everyone said thank you and good luck to my family (that's for you, mom, dad, Steven, Nancy!) and hoped I would come back. My Thoughts: Success! I felt overjoyed from their enthusiasm. These young adults are very well behaved. As an non-mandantory, after school class, it's incredible they were all there because they chose to learn. I would prefer to teach art to younger kids, who speak english as a first language! Well worth the experience. P
March 01, 2006
February 27, 2006
Kwang Xi Waterfall is made up of tiers of light, white-green pools. The walk up to the falls across wooden bridges, through twisted trees and vines, on dirt floors covered with red and purple flowers, was paradise. Each layer was only revealed a few at a time until at last the rushing water fell from so high in even more sections. Had a quick swim in the cool water. Then woke up at 4am with things moving in my stomach. Not sure if it was food or drink, but got to create a waterfall for myself... am feeling much better now!
Had a side trip over to Pak Ou to see the Tham Ting. It is advertised on all the waterbottles, an cave within the side of a high cliff. The black opening begins with a white staircase and wall. Within are over 4000 buddhas that have been placed there by worshippers. Large and small, dull and shiny, heads without bodies and bodies without heads, it's a buddha audience overlooking the Mekong River. P
February 24, 2006
During the many hours of having absolutely nothing to do and no desire to try and speak over the loud engine, I remembered the recent words from the monk, "Keep your body and mind together, always in the present moment." Instead of wishing for the future (to get off the damn boat), my thoughts focused on nature's images before me and I condured several strings of descriptive lines for each tiny event. In total concentration, I ended up in the most relaxed state I can remember myself being for a long time.
Patches of bright sand dotted with planted clumps of greens. The edge a dune spilling strings like sand timers into pointed mounds below. Contrasting the steep highlighted ridges of horizontal shadows...
Fat, healthy cows, submerged in the river or lying on the bank. No movement except ears twitching, flicking off flies. Goats roamed the steep hills in white, black and beige...
Women wearing red sarongs walking in one's or two's. Carrying filled baskets on bamboo across their shoulders. Seemingly nowhere, far from any village...
Children rowed dug-out long boats and bathed by slanted, layered, rocks. Tiny silhouettes holding inner tubes watching us from the beach...
Men standing in boats, or waist-high in the water. Throwing white nets into hollow, momental forms. Organizing wood to build a new boat...
The distance highlighted with wirey, white trunks. Glowing against the dark jungle's interior. Stalks of bamboo in circular patches, arched outwards and upwards, softened with foliage. Thousands of species, vines and trees, entangled together in a connecting leaf canopy...
Yellow leaves sprinkle in the wind. Falling and flickering like families of butterflies. Some rocks were purple, like moss only on the West side. More colours stand out, new shapes approaching. I could go on forever describing this land. P
February 20, 2006
One free day in the city and I ran around to all the "must see" temples. Chatted with a few monks in orange and saffron in the truck ride up to Wat Prathat Doi Suthep. Many of them seem to come from Laos to study Buddhism in Thailand. Returning to the temple with their new purchase, a used tv. But I thought monks don't own anything? "As long as it's used for the right reason." Followed by "Things are changing." The one with a cell phone, asked to take my photo with him which peaked some tourist to lecture me about not associating with monks that way "especially as a woman". Ya, like I'm trying to pick up a monk!
Heading to Wat Suan Dok for the 1-on-1 monk chat, I looked forward to some real insight about Buddhist beliefs. He's (I'll keep the name anonymous) 24 and spoke carefully and patiently, smiling and squinting his eyes genuinely as I imagine the Dali Lama would. Every morning at 6am the monks walk around the temples with an apple, accepting food from people. They only eat what they are given and even though monks are vegetarian, they will eat meat if it is offered to them. A very pleasant chat which unexpectedly ended with "Would you mind if I travelled with you when you're in Laos?" My outburst of disbelief was reponded to with "When I leave, I won't be a monk for a month." ?#$%^&!!! So after presumably being hit on by 2 monks in 1 day, made me a little bit skeptical about this whole monkism idea. I'm sure many are legit, but like our tour guides and drivers, many will leave by their 20's. But you just have to laugh, right? P
February 14, 2006
Mon, my first female rickshaw driver wrote my name in Thai, it looks pretty cool. I love Thai characters, I think it is the most beautiful written language. Oooo, I like Japanese caligraphy too, but Thai has these little circles and curves that look amazing when hand written. So after the most beautiful Buddha, I went to the old capital of Thailand, Sukhothai "Dawn of Happiness". This is where the Thai alphabet originated, derived from India. There is massive World Heritage site about 800 years old. The park is filled with wats (temples) and shrines with Buddhas sitting, reclining, standing and walking all over the place. A couple have some Hindu and Khmer influence which is interesting. Met Danny from Guelph of all places and admired the ruins while talking about his adventurous trekking in China, Tibet and getting some good advice for Laos. When the sun began to lower, an orange glow enhanced the colour in the bricks so I made a lot of use of the "autumn" setting on my camera! And I had forgotten about that black and white option, also put to good use today. Way too many photos and only one speedy sketch. P
February 11, 2006
Bangkok reminds me so much of Bali! The intricate, dark wood carving on the wall, the pots of plants lining each river and house, and the streams of motorcyclists.
The city is absolutely gigantic. My 2 new Estonian friends and I walked up to the river, got on a packed boat ride along the river, had a tuk tuk driver that took us to unknown temples where his friends will give him free fuel coupons, bus 47 to National Stadium where the ticket taker made us get off but we actually should have stayed on which took another half hour to figure out, and then bus 15 to finally see the Grand Palace a far walk in the distance. Total: 3.5 hours. Crazy!
The Palace is a colourful maze of temples and and tall spirals that point into the sky and from the huge white wall on the outside, looks like a candy land. It contains the Emerald Buddah who I thought I had missed as we left but he just happens to have a gold coat on in the winter! Gold and mirrors and detailed murals and coloured mosiacs of flowers and patterns and painted tiles... left me bedazzled for the rest of the day. P
February 08, 2006
However the flight was amazing and had the most number of spectacular views I've ever witnessed! I had no idea I was about to step onto an 11 hour flight (I knew I was flying haha, but predicted 7 hours). Before we flew into the white cloud that rained onto the city, there were rectangular patches of all colours. The rest was white and then ocean until the approach onto the coastline of Australia. It must have been just south of Sydney somewhere. We ended up flying diagonally across the entire continent, over Alice Springs and then to Derby in the West which I never saw on land. The ground transformed several times into weird and interesting arrangements. The familiar red-oranges covered everything with the occasional gray water hole and streams of greens. Possibly a salt field in ameoba shaped blobs. And the brilliant white clouds dotting the surface, several hundreds of metres above it all. Casting dark blue-gray shadows back down onto the land. And above the clouds were us, in the air where it is always perfectly blue because nothing is above us, abstructing the view. These layers of patterns and objects just need to be painted.
That's not all! On the edge of northern Australia, a cloud streamed rain onto the coastline and a thick, colourful rainbow arched the phenomenon. Passing over one of the Indonesian islands, a huge, black volcano with a deep sandy interior, poked high above the clouds surrounding it. I didn't realize ocean could be so calm as to reflect a cloud's image like a mirror. Passing more islands, large and small, blobs and triangles. Separated sometimes by a river, sometimes by miles. Parts of the edges submerged under water, but still visible through the clearness. I could peice them all together like a puzzle, thinking about how many years of earthquakes and eruptions it took to separate them this way. WOW. P
February 06, 2006
February 05, 2006
Further down the road, made a visit to the Penguin Reserve. My main purpose to visit Dunedin was to find a quiet spot on the beach, letting the penguins wobble up towards me, getting a close up personal view of their actions and drawing them all day. But like other occasions, my imaginings are not allowed to come true. The few places the penguins do wander up to are protected by reserves and the only way to see them is to pay a guide. And on the tour, there is limited time at each nest, as the group is pushed along to the next site. However, with only a minute to sketch here and there along the trail, we did get as close as 5 metres to the world's most endangered Yellow Eyed Penguin. Only about 4500 exist along the south-east coast of NZ, Stuart, Auckland and Campbell Islands. Mostly the chicks were around as the adults were out fishing. But there was one hiding in the grass with the distinct yellow head poking out of the grass. They are even cuter in real life! Their wings point out in odd directions as they bend over to clean their feathers, or poke their head up to see who is coming, or turn their head sideways to seemingly talk to the penguin next door. This species is a little odd, as they are much more independent and do not hang around in huge colonies as the others do. One day I have to go to Antartica to see that!
The rest of the ride was a little rushed as we lost time pushing the bike up the steep gravel roads. Saw views of a couple harbours, but would need another day to see NZ's only castle, do the hikes and see the volcanic formations. Again, for next time! P
February 04, 2006
It was a long trip to get here, but in one day we saw a lone penguin (from a distance), huge sea lions on the beach, seals swimming way at the bottom of the steep cliffs and dolphins swimming amongst people willing to stand the freezing water. A lot of aqua water, sunny sun and spectacular landscapes which made my day. P
February 01, 2006
January 30, 2006
Oh and the Australian couple sipping some wine in the sun set, preparing themselves for the Milford track the next day, who passed on a huge rose to thank me for taking their photo. Then an unexpected romantic walk alone around the edge of the bay in Queenstown's Botanical Gardens. A satisfying meal of blue cod fish and chips. Laughing disgustedly at the old guy trying to pick up young girls in very revealing swimmers. Admiring new birds with a white V shaped tail or a mohawk on a duck or the inquisitive ones that want to hop so close with no hesitation. :) P
January 27, 2006
Imagining the most magnificent views if it was raining and the hundreds of falls rushing down in the fog... but so grateful it was sunny and warm and the luck I've had in the south with this amazing weather. Instead of the last few months of stepping into rain and leaving the sun behind, finally is has turned around in my favour.
January 26, 2006
Ah, at a time when internet is scarce, I have so much to say but I'll have to expand later. For now, I will mention the walk in Haast was like entering into a dinasaur's oasis, Franz Joseph Glacier was a spiky mound of interesting formations, and Queenstown is a great place to do any kind of extreme activity, or in my case, to watch it all. P
January 21, 2006
Nelson had a few galleries to stroll through including Jens Hansen maker of the ring in LOTR and Lisa Hoskin's jewelery of delicately designed printed charms. Oh and girls, check out the Cicely cards! So funny, I was the weird tourist laughing out loud at the card stand, www.cecily.co.nz.
Then the amazing coastline at Abel Tasman National Park. Did 11 kms of part of one of the greatest NZ walks. The low blue tide sinks down to raise the patches of white sanded islands. Making it to our water taxi pick up and avoiding all the sandflies that day, descended into Anchorage Bay, water broken into a paint-by-number of green, blue, tourquoise and gray. Many funny llamas looking very feminine and cows, posing for me to draw just by our cabins. P
January 16, 2006
Met an artist in residence called John Keith Reed, water colourist. His advice is to paint every evening, have many exhibitions, know that your audience wants to relate to your work, and most importantly, love what you do. His enthusiasm and reading a bio of his past successes gave me a new rush of inspiration. Driving to Nelson, I scribbled down new ideas and words for my first exhibition. TBA!!! P
January 14, 2006
January 11, 2006
January 04, 2006
January 01, 2006
I hope you celebrated with a good mix.
And sooooo, how did the eve go?
Maybe a little kiss under the mistletoe?
I didn't, but whatever,
it's okay because it's summer!
Here in Wellington I'm sitting a house,
and Panda the cat who hasn't caught a mouse.
My head is a bit itchy,
hopefully not fleas from kitty.
I garden and cook and read all day,
and try to write poems that kids can say.
If only my friends were here with me now,
I wouldn't have to end this yet with "chow"!
Year to you! P