Category Archives: SE Asia Trip

Amarsarta Temple, Bali. 7 x 10 in. Oil on Museum Board

Plein Air Painting in Bali, Indonesia

Amarsarta Temple, Bali. 7 x 10 in. Oil on Museum Board

Amarsarta Temple, Bali. 7 x 10 in. Oil on Museum Board

Right after my trip to Australia, I went to Bali. I chose Bali primarily because it was an inexpensive flight from Perth, where I was at the time (you can see my blog post about Australia here). I had considered New Zealand and SE Asia, but Bali is so nearby, it seemed the easiest.  It is part of the Indonesian archipelago, just north of Australia.

Map of Bali,Indonesia

Map of Bali,Indonesia

I flew in to Denpassar and the spent the first night in Kuta. It was very touristy and I quickly left for Ubud. I met some nice fellow travelers on the bus and found a nice room there quickly. Locally run guesthouse rooms ranged about $15 to $25 US and you get something quite nice for $25.  Ubud was fine, although also a little touristy. It’s famous as the final stop of the “Eat Pray, Love book and movie. It doesn’t really look like what was portrayed in the movie. It was very busy with traffic and constantly on the street people ask you to buy various things (this is the case In Kuta as well). The only way to get rid of them is to completely ignore them. Even a polite no seems to encourage them.

Near Ubud, Bali

Near Ubud, Bali

I found a couple nice temples to paint nearby by. Amarsarta was a small temple with some nice animal carvings and I rented a Motorcycle one day and drove out to Tampakseering temple to paint. I also went to a great art museum, the Neka, in Ubud. A highlight of my visit in Ubud was meeting Pascal and Gavin for dinner one night, a couple I had met in Perth, who were coincidentally vacationing in Bali as well.

 Sculpture at Tampakseering Temple, Bali

Sculpture at Tampakseering Temple, Bali

Tampakseering Temple, Bali, 7 x 8 in., Oil on Museum Board

Tampakseering Temple, Bali, 7 x 8 in., Oil on Museum Board

After Ubud I went out to the east coast to Candidasa, where I had a nice beach front room. It was quieter and less touristy here. I rented a motorcycle and took a trip into the mountains to see the Besakih Temple. One thing that was confusing was the guides who tried to tell you that you could not go in to the temple without a guide unless you are a Hindu. Yes, There are certain areas of limits, but that is not true. I was confused and so basically did not go in, even though I had paid an admission. Later I found out the guides were lying. You do need long pants or dresses though and sleeves or you’ll have to rent a sarong.

The oceanfront at Candidasa, Bali

The oceanfront at Candidasa, Bali

In order to get to the Besakih Temple, I used a small motorcycle. I have to say riding on narrow windy roads in the hills on a tiny little motorcycle is more fun than a roller coaster! I liked having the bike, but once I started thinking about it, since they do not come with any kind of insurance, I got spooked about liability (how western of me!) and decided to stop with the motorcycles. Next time I’ll try to arrange something in advance with a western insurance company, which is apparently the way to do it. It’s something like $5 -10 a day to rent a bike.

Northern Bali Mountains

Northern Bali Mountains

I was still to hot, so next I considered going to the Gili Islands, but instead chose to head to the mountains, hoping for cool weather. And I got it, except it was raining torrentially. I stayed only one night in Candikunning, but did find a sheltered spot to paint the beautifully situated  Ulun Danu Beratan Temple.

The Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, Bali, 7 x 10 in.,Oil on Museum Board

The Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, Bali, 7 x 10 in., Oil on Museum Board

After Candikunning I took a bus to Kalibukbuk on the northern coast. I was hoping for nice beaches, but there had been storms and the beaches were a little wrecked. But the weather was good while I was there. I basically just stayed in Kalibukbuk. I met some great expats to drink with and the restaurants were cheap and delicious. I did a few paintings and had a relaxing time. I met a fun Belgium named Wim Vansteenbergen who was opening a guesthouse in the hills, and he would be a good contact if one finds oneself in Kalibukbuk. It was much more low key then the south of Bali, and definitely where I would recommend to head if one was going to Bali.

Kalibukbuk,Bali, 7 x 10 in., Bail on Museum Board

Kalibukbuk,Bali, 7 x 10 in., Oil on Museum Board

The beach in, Kuta, Bali

The beach in, Kuta, Bali

I then headed back down to Kuta, where I was hoping to lie on the beach for my last two days in Bali, but alas the rain came back (it was the end of the rainy season when I traveled) apparently there is excellent surfing in and near Kuta, and some people were doing it, despite the weather. The day after I left was the Balinese New Year and I got to see a nice parade and just wandered around. Apparently on the Balinese New Year, they actually close down the entire Island (including planes and ferries) and nobody is allowed on the street. And this is police enforced. Lucky I missed that day! I also tried a few nightclubs. Kuta is a party place, mainly aimed at young Australians, but I hate to say it, it was all just to loud.

Balinese Pre-New Year Parade

Balinese Pre-New Year Parade

The goal of my visit to Bali was really to paint, but I mostly was lackadaisical about my opportunities. I think that was really because of the heat, this northern bred body just can’t get much done when it is humid and in the 90’sF. You do adjust to this after a few weeks, though, as I found in Thailand. I didn’t have a great time in Bali, but this may have been that was just bored traveling alone, this time. Certainly I met a lot of people who were having great trips.

Delicious Balinese Fruit

Bali is inexpensive, and the food can be wonderful. One could do it for $30 day, even less if you wanted to. There is a definite difference between what the locals eat and pay and what the tourists get. On my return bus ride to Denpasar, the driver wanted to stop and have lunch. I was the only passenger at this point, and we went into the restaurant where we had a simple meal of rice and gristly meat. The price was about 20 cents US. Normally I had been paying $2 to $4 US for meals, although they were much better.

I think Bali is changing from an agricultural economy into a tourist economy, and they definitely have issues with things like traffic and garbage disposal. This is of course an issue anywhere in second or third world Asia.

Sculpture Shop, Bali

Sculpture Shop, Bali

Art materials were easily available on Bali. There are also a lot of skillful craftsman on Bali. Of particular note to me were the wood-carvers. If I was to go back to Bali, I would try to take a course in wood-carving, and there seemed to be some available.

And then I made the grueling 24-hour flight back to Chicago, via Perth and Hong Kong, arriving safely in Chicago, where I had missed an almost spring-like winter.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Morning on the Mekong River, Luang Prabang, Laos, 5 by 9 in. Oil on Board

Painting On Location In Southeast Asia – Finished Sketches

A Southern Cambodian Village

Here is a post of some of the oil paintings and drawings I have done in Thailand , Cambodia, Laos ,and Malaysia. I posted these last year, but recently I worked on these in the studio and got them all finished and signed and took new photos. These were made during a wonderful and interesting painting and exploration trip I made in January through May, 2010.

A River In Laos
A River In Laos
Mekong River Boats In Luang Prabang, Laos

Mekong River Boats In Luang Prabang, Laos

These are all small single session sketches starting at about 5 x 7 in. and up. The drawing is 11 x 14 in. I  am working on some larger pieces and hope to mount an exhibit sometime soon.  I would welcome proposals from  galleries and I would like to use some of the proceeds to help fund de-mining activities in Laos. To get more  written info about my trip click here or click on the SE Asia category on the right.

Ruins At Angkor, Cambodia

Ruins At Angkor, Cambodia

Here is a map of my trip :

My Travel Route in Indochina

My Travel Route in Indochina

Carved Reliefs of Dancing Apsaras,Preah Khan, Angkor, Cambodia

Carved Reliefs of Dancing Apsaras, Preah Khan, Angkor, Cambodia

And a gallery of the rest of the paintings:

Stephan Giannini Painting in Sukothai,Thailand

Asian Painting Trip Posts on the Amateur Traveler Blog

Boats On The Mekong

Boats On The Mekong

Chris Christensen was kind enough to  re-post  my SE Asian painting trip blog posts on his  ( much more popular ) blog. This is about the trip I took to the Indochina region to tour and paint in early 2010. He does an often extremely informative and interesting podcast called ‘The Amateur Traveler” which I download through  the Itunes software.

Click on Laos, Thailand ,or  Cambodia to see those posts.

To  look at just the paintings i did  click  here . All my posts on this subject can be accessed if you click on ” SE Asia trip” in the Categories section to the right.

Back to Bangkok and Chicago

After Malacca I took a sleeper train up to Thailand. These Asian sleeper trains are quite comfortable, as long as you get a bottom berth. First I went back to Chumpon and visited my uncle. We had some nice talks and spent time  snorkeling and oyster gathering. 

 Bangkok and Chicago

On May 5th I returned to Bangkok to catch my flight. Despite rumors of troublesome protests in the city, I noticed nothing, even though I was only 3 KM away from the center of the protests. Early on may 6th I took a high-speed knuckle-clenching cab ride to the airport (because Thai cab drivers are maniacs)…..

Sweet Home Chicago!

Sweet Home Chicago!

 

 ….And after a 22-hour flight in total I landed in Chicago. The first thing I noticed was how quiet Chicago is compared to the frenzy of the Asian towns and cities. I almost expected  tumbleweeds to go by, the difference was so marked. But it is home, and it felt good.

Malaysia Visa Run

 

Household Decorations In Georgetown

 

  

Georgetown, Malaysia

 My 15-day Thai visa ran out again so I have decided to go to Malaysia for a few days to leave the country and therefore renew my visa. I took a bus and train to Georgetown on Penang Island.

Georgetown is an old colonial city established by the British. The first thing you notice about Malaysia is that it is much wealthier than Thailand. It is also cleaner and as part of the British commonwealth English is common. More of a multicultural society, there is quite a significant Muslim population, many ethnic Chinese and Malays as well.

One  high-point of Georgetown was meeting a local artist, Shafarin Ghani  ( www. Inggsakuraromanticism.synthasite.com).  I saw an exhibit of his work and it was especially nice to talk to someone with the same drives and interest as myself. 

Tea Plantations in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Tea Plantations in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

 

Cameroon Highlands

After Georgetown I headed southeast to the Cameron Highlands. This area was one of the main draws of Northern Malaysia for me. It is a Tea plantation area at elevation giving it a mild climate that hovers around 20 degrees centigrade (about 70F). After sweating for the last 6 weeks it was a nice change.

I did rent a scooter here and it was the first and only time in Asia that someone wanted to see a driver’s license before they would give me a scooter. It also was the first one that came with Liability insurance. Ah, civilization.

This was also the area where the famous Jim Thompson disappeared. Thompson was an entrepreneur and former  military intelligence officer who helped revitalize the Thai silk and textile industry in the 1950s and 1960s. His former residence is a museum In Bangkok. Thompson mysteriously disappeared  while going for a walk  in the Cameron Highlands 

Mosque in Malacca, Malaysia

Mosque in Malacca, Malaysia

 

Malacca, Malaysia

I then took a bus down to Malacca, an old Portuguese trading port even farther south. Malacca has a pretty historic district and Chinatown. But for some reason very limited sidewalk space (this was an issue in Georgetown as well).  One thing I glimpsed here that I really regret not pursuing was a workshop where a Chinese man was making this enormous kite. Also in Malacca you found western style malls, as well as a Starbucks and McDonald’s.

Stonecarver_in_Georgetown

Stonecarver in Georgetown

Ko Pha Ngan and Thai Water Festival

 

 

 

Thais armed with water-pistols for Songkran

Thai New Year and Water Festival on Ko Pha Ngan Island

  I spent a few more days in Ko Pha Ngan island where I did some snorkeling for the first time. It was a wonderful experience in a really stunning coral beach called Mae Had on the northern shore of the island.

The big excitement during my stay there was  Songkran, the Thai new years and water festival. This is celebrated when Thai people  (and some tourists) arm themselves with water pistols, hoses or buckets and generally drench anyone who passes by. I decided to go out on my motorcycle to check out the party on the rest of the island and spent the day getting totally drenched by partiers on the side of the road.

 

 

 

 

Scooter being drenched on Thai New Year

 

 It sounds a little dangerous but mostly they wave you down and you have to “accept” the invitation to be “attacked”. Or there is a traffic jam and you just submit. It was extremely hot so actually a lot of fun.

Phuket

On April 15 I took a boat and bus to Phuket, which is a touristy vacation island a bit farther south. Not really much of interest here but parts of the island are very beautiful. There is also a red light district here, which was almost comical with the disneyesque lady-boys and the western families with children walking around gawking at it all.