Wednesday, February 11, 2009

From Laos to Cambodia - with a stopover at Bangkok, Thailand

Aside from Louang Phabang, we also visited the capital of Laos - Vientianne. From Laos we took a bus to Bangkok and then a bus ride (10 hours all in all) to Siem Reap. It was a bumpy and dusty bus ride. We all looked like we were caked with powder dust.

If you have the chance, YOU HAVE TO see and visit Siem Reap - THE temples of Angkor are NOT to be missed in this lifetime. This was my second visit to Angkor Wat and I'm very glad I had this chance. During the first trip (with my sister) I couldn't manage but just gawk and be dumbfounded by the history and majesty of it all. This trip I was able to draw and enjoy.

Siem Reap was full of bicycles and all sorts of scooters - this is where I drew one of my favorite images (see left). I drew this right outside the hostel we were staying in.

Of course I also had the chance to draw the temples - Bayon is just one of the many favorites. I love drawing "onsite" - almost ALWAYS someone (or a whole lot people) come over and watch me draw. When I was younger, I was uncomfortable with people watching but then I thought it was a good way of "sharing" my art and talents. Now I enjoy meeting people through my art. I remember while drawing the Ta Prohm temple (I was sitting among the uncomfortable rocks and ruins), a very young blonde boy sat with me very quietly. We were then joined by a lot of local children who I think live somewhere among the ruins. We all had a nice "quiet time" together.

On the bus, I also loved the local architecture of small provincial houses - their roofs were so nice with elaborate trimmings. I couldn't draw in the bus (too shaky a ride) so I had to take snapshots which I later used as a reference for the drawing. Next, off to Vietnam!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Two days on a slow boat from Thailand to Laos

From the tip of Thailand, we took a "slow boat" to Houeixai, Laos. It's called a slow boat beacause there's a much faster one - wherein you have to wear a safety helmet - and i heard stories that it wasn't that safe. the slow boat ride to Louang Phabang (Laos) however takes two days with an overnight stopover at Pakbeng. The ride is along the Mekong river and is quite nice as it is a bit uncomfortable. Sketching made my trip not just bearable but real nice.

When we arrived at the shores of Louang Phabang, it was late in the evening - I could hardly see a thing. i remember we had to clamber up a hill from the dock. Reaching the top, I saw an absolutely magical sight - the main road (not very wide) was a turned into night market. There wasn't any electricity that night and so the whole street was lined with the warm glow of candles. It was wonderful to see and I was absolutely mesmerized.

Morning brought me even more wonders - I saw the whole town was full of old French colonial architecture. I thought, "Ah! I'll just stay by the curb and draw all day long" - which is exactly what I did. Of all the stops in all the 10 countries I visited in the trip, Louang Phabang was my favourite.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bus From Malaysia to Thailand

We got a bus ticket to Bangkok from a small travel agency (at a local mall) - ALWAYS ALWAYS bargain! I think being Filipinos (we look a lot like locals), we do get great prices.

Bangkok was MOST amazing! First stop was THE backpack capital of southeast asia - Khao San Road. I LOVE the vibe of Khao San - the street is closed to vehicles and people from all over the world walk to and fro the street. Most if not everyone was interesting! I would sit by the curb and draw (as usual). This is also where you could find inexpensive backpack hostels and even more inexpensive (AND MOST DELICIOUS) street food!

Aside from Bangkok, we went to Chang Mai (where I rode an elephant, Inefficiently steered a bamboo raft), and the River Kwai. Thailand is also THE place where I made my first backpack friends (now facebook friends as well) who I will treasure FOREVER. Next stop: Laos! :-)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bus from Singapore to Malaysia

From Singapore, we took a bus to Kuala Lumpur. The Backpackers hostel we stayed in would be HELL for a lot of people but it was pure heaven for me!

First thing - it was OLD. Second, it was filthy! When i reached my room (more like a box with no windows) i thought to myself, I think I'll have to lock the door (looked a bit dangerous) - while trying my best to lock the door, the door fell on me.

BUT I LOVED IT. the owner was an artist and so art was EVERYWHERE. People were amazing. I remember an gentleman from the Middle East wanting to share his newly cooked noodle soup, a couple of Japanese drummers who looked like samurais! We met a super friendly Aussie surfer, a stunning French woman, a Filipina at the crossroads of her life - all sorts of interesting wonderful people.

A companion of mine doesn't speak very good English (in crazy Philippine standards) and he's quite insecure about it. BUT this time, around Japanese, French, Germans - they were all SO impressed by his English. He shined. We had a grand time!

Plane from Manila to Singapore

My Backpack trip from Manila started with a plane ride to Singapore. We (5 of us) took the most inexpensive flight from the the net which started our adventure of scrimping and traveling without much money.

In Singapore, we stayed at "The Cozy Corner" Backpackers Hostel. I remember the taxi driver telling us about the hostel - "it's not so cozy"he said. Apparently not - but i LOVED it. Backpackers sleeping on mattresses out on the roof deck, shared bathrooms, a table where everyone shares breakfast. It was my first encounter with backpackers and I loved it and felt right at home!

One World One Heart FREE book!


Linda and Opie O'Brien
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to all who visited and commented on this blog.
I sincerely appreciate your kind and encouraging words!
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Congratulations to Lisa Swifka,
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"giveaway caravan" - See you next year! :-)


Today is indeed a special day! Hundreds of bloggers from the One World One Heart "caravan" will pick winners - and that includes me!
I will be announcing who will win my Backpack book TODAY!

Would you like to win a copy of my Backpack book? - it's a 200page book full of my drawings! I'll make a personal sketch and sign it just for you. All you have to do is leave a comment here - DO leave a way for me to contact you (like an email address). A winner will be chosen (by random picking) on the 12th of February 2009

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