May 30, 2005

Starting Over

Yesterday was the coolest day so far, and half way through a huge waterfall of rain was finally released from the sky. This happened once in Hong Kong too, I've never seen so much water fall so strongly at once. And it was funny to hear the travellers just arriving at our hostel complaining about how hot it is. Ah ha! Now that it's back to normal hotness already, I wonder what they'll say about today?

I've spent the last couple of days pacing myself much more than trying to run around the city seeing everything there possible is to see. Now that I've been here about 10 days, I feel like I could be a pretty good Singapore tour guide! I've decided to buy a tube so I can carry around large sketch paper, to draw on a much bigger scale. I feel the small size of my sketchbook has limited my ability to draw without thinking so literally about everything. I want to blend my design skills into my artwork but it seems this should come later and not be forced. Right now I want to erase all the restrictions I've felt since working for other people and start from the beginning...

Emmeke from Holland had been working on a film in Japan and is now on her way to Bali. It's been refreshing to speak with someone a little older (but not as old as me) about conversations other than the usual 20 year old discussions about tans. We had an elegant cup of English Breakfast tea at the Raffles Hotel. Raffles is the British founder of Singapore that made the economy boom from an old fishing village to the modern city it is today. And ate an Indian lunch of naan, cottage cheese and spinach, and butter chicken by Boat Quay. A delicious way to eat my last meal in a place I am so ready to leave. In 10 minutes I get to meet Sherry, a local artist I have been emailing the last few months. The reason I am still in Singapore! P

May 28, 2005


I am reading I Have Seen the World Begin by Carsten Jenson. In the latest chapter, I just read "As a traveller, you are nobody in the eyes of others". I felt this mostly today wandering Little India and being constantly bumped and cut off and walked into through the small corridors. The heat felt the worst today and I had a quick snooze in a small peice of shade. I got up, unrefreshed and dragged myself forward in a slow daze. My clothes were soaked and sticking to my skin which made it harder to bend my knees. Now I know why so many Chinese shuffle their feet :) P

May 27, 2005


The great thing about traveling alone as a foreigner is that people are much more inclined to approach you. I meet so many people in one day that I do not have the chance to be alone. Although, the conversation usually starts off with one question and there are only so many different ways of answering, which repeats itself as:
"Where are you from?" Canada. "Oh, a very nice city!" Have you been? "No. Where do you go next?" Malaysia, Melaka first. "You'll love it! Alone?" Yes. "You are very brave!" and then the next comment has been 50/50 between, being very careful there and it's very safe for travellers, so I'm going to trust the second, but keep a strong hold on my wallet.

But I am starting to cherish these little chats because each person has a unique conversation within them, ít's just spending that extra minute or so to get to it. Today, I started at the MICA building to take a look at some galleries of local artists. One girl helped me locate on my map every single gallery I intend to visit. The next guy commented that he did not have the patience to paint for more than 5 seconds, but admires the artists who work 12 hours a day standing on their feet. He gave me 2 books on Indonesian art and asked me to comment on his graphic design skills (uh...). Then referred me to Art Seasons gallery which I hadn't heard of and came across 2 new painters I admire. After taking my order I realized the friendly sandwich guy was plastered all over the wall in reviews from various papers. His chicken pot pies are famous, I must go back to try one! Hong was my personal tour guide at the Asian Civilizations Museum. I was his first tour group! And then Prince (really!) from Nigeria insisted that I buy a cell phone so that I have a number for him to call. Nice try! The woman at the Taiwanese restaurant insisted I get the Oyster Vermiccilli soup and not the chicken curry (you can get that anywhere). "Is it good?" Yes! Except for the occasional mucousy-like clumps. And one of the hostel upkeepers was trying to fix the broken air conditioner. If I stay in the room, I'll get $2 off each day it's not working! So those are my encounters for the day. More to come. P

May 26, 2005


I thought I had been fairly clear about ordering the Hong Kong noodles. But she shoved a plate of rice and BBQ pork infront of me and decided it would only be worse if I tried to explain this is not what I wanted. Uh, the pork was gross and dry, the things that looked like potatoes tasted fishy and the bok choy was cold. While I looked at my plate unimpressed, she came over to me and started yelling that I had taken another customers order and grabbed the plate and stomped away. I didn't say anything for a moment while the entire food court stared at me. I went after the girl and she handed a new plate to me which I am so glad tasted much better! I tried to smile it off, but the glares continued and nobody smiled back (oh, I'm so bad!). And then to make things more embarassing, one of my chopsticks was the wrong way. Ah!

I've made a painting of the Southern most point in Asia. And will finish off the Buddah in modern day SG. P

May 25, 2005

New Do

I just had a hair cut for free at Toni & Guy Academy for being a model infront of a class of five! I had the full experience of being immersed in Singlish. I tried so hard to listen, but only understood about half of the lecture. I'm not sure if they use too many sh's, or if it's just a lack of pronounciation, or a blend of Malay-Mandarin-Indian-English, but they may as well have been speaking Chinese! Anyway, I have a $200 cut which looks good I guess. The teacher kept saying how dry my hair was so I'm sure there's an improvement. Yay!

May 24, 2005

Where is the Inspiration?

To be honest, I've been frustrated with the lack of finding inspiration. I am comfortable and welcoming the safe, clean atmosphere of Singapore. However, it seems to hinder me from painting. I've spent the last 3 days roaming the streets and parks and shops, and looking at every flower, temple and person but nothing strikes me as art. Yesterday morning I found a few art stores and specialty paper shops, so I was set with a couple boards and some peices of beautiful papers. The Theaters on Bay at the Esplanade had an underground tunnel covered with cool cut and paste paintings. There was also an exhibition on by a Korean artist who had clear puzzle pieces hanging in the lobby, with other displays dipicting dreams vs. reality. This was the first time I was full of creative juices, so I went outside to find something to draw. So I explored the Marina, and then Memorials in the park, the Durian-looking building, Suntec City, The largest man-made fountain in the world, the tallest wall fountain in the world, the Sculpture garden where an art class was drawing... nothing! It is all too clean or sterile or boring. There is great art, but nothing to make great art from! I forced myself to paint the sleek new building lit up last night from the hostel's roof top patio, but it's no good. I'm empty. P

May 22, 2005


I know I always say I'd rather be warm than cold, but this is HOT! I am constantly sweating, even at night under a fan. It's even hotter here than China, but I can't really tell the difference, it's just hot and my clothes constantly stick to me :(

Saw the Singapore Botanical Gardens, so many orchids! The celebrity section even had two named for Princess Diana and Ricky Martin. My 1 gig memory card is full! I must have used quite a bit for the videos I took of the remote-controlled kites flying around last night. They were so cool! Time to do some burning. I think I'll make prints of a few as reference for my paintings... it's been too awkward to pull paints out on location. P

May 19, 2005


I'm in Singapore! Had a full day of travel so have not seen much of the city yet. Seems as though there will be a lot happening here in the next month so may stick around a while. Hope to see the dragon boat race! And must check out a temple on the 22nd, there is an annual celebration for Buddah reaching Nirvana, sounds cool. Plus it's so English and clean here, it will give me a chance to recover from the pollution and stomach pains from China.

Still glad I went though, and hope to go again and see more parts of that huge country. Had to say bye to Paul at the taxi, then Krissy at the bus and then finally Christine at the departure gate. Whoa, the tears sprung, I won't see any of you for a year, now I'm really on my own! I know we all know this but reality only sets in once in a while, a little bit at a time. P

May 14, 2005

Strange World

We each had a massage last night which put us straight to bed with the best nights sleep so far. It seemed more like shiatsu mixed in with some reflexology. My back is a little sore today but she found some pressure points and hopefully squeezed all the extra tensions that had built up my last week in TO.

There are some strange things about this place: Crossing the street is suicidal. The bikes/scooters/cars/buses do not stop at a cross walk, they hardly even slow down! It seems best to follow close behind a local and just assume the cars will swerve at the right moment. I hear there's a city like this in Vietnam, so this will be good practice; Line ups are just for show, if there is room for you infront of someone else, get in there!; We're feeling a bit like some rare breed of animal in a zoo. Us 3 girls are attracting many indiscreet stares. Just waiting for one of these passer-bys to bump into a tree or something; You can get anything from the variety store wrapped in plastic, from chicken feet to pickled eggs; If you show interest in a shirt, the staff will be sure to suggest a different one that is completely unrelated in any way.

It's all funny though, but not really. I accept the Chinese more. Here, they have each spent their lifetime in a city packed full of so many people. It's competitive. Some are so poor they look for, or are passed the empty plastic bottles to make a few cents. Others more well off have made a living manufacturing or selling products. Consumerism is big. Everything is made in China. And everyone with a few dollars or more to spare, is one more person to buy this stuff because it's there. They fill the malls and the shops and the markets. They commute in the cars and taxis and bicylcles. They eat the frogs legs and chicken intestines because food is precious and nothing can be wasted. But the styrofoam and plastic is thrown out on the streets and cars without any emmision tests are shooting toxins into the air for all the millions of people to breathe in each day. Tradition vs. modernization. Their customs are still there but are adjusting to Western influence. They add whiteners into face creams to lighten their skin to be more beautiful. They eat our fast food to be more modern. And then we want to learn about their natural medication, and practice yoga and spirituality. They think we're right. We think we're wrong. Who's right? Will there be a role reversal? Hopefully we can blend into one big right. Hm... good night :)

May 10, 2005

Hong Kong & China

I'm here! After the longest day ever (39 hours, missing Friday completely!) I landed in Hong Kong safe and sound :) The first thing I noticed was tallness... mountains, buildings, buses. Layers of high rises, some shiny and new, while right next door looking like they'll collapse into dust at any moment. It's chaotic and noisy and polluted like crazy, I love it! The millions of signs, stores, taxis, people staring at me look so different from Toronto, but at the same time it's just another city, I felt right at home.

Waiting to check into the hostel, I explored Kowloon Park just a block away. Since it was still early, people were all over it doing their Tai Chi in groups or pairs or even on their own in the middle of a garden. A few people playing instruments, others singing, or practicing Kung Foo moves and something with a stick (Kendo?). And a few women by the pool doing a fan dance. I took about 2 or 3 rolls of films worth in 1 day... yay for digital!!

Christine and Krissie met me at the room later in the evening and we caught up on each other's airport stories. There was an art display in San Francisco that was so cool, will post the photo if I can download on this computer. A guy created over 5000 3x3 inch paintings while commuting to work. It reminded me of how the sqaure foot show will be set up (I'm in it! This August at AWOL I think). Explored the city and all the stores it has, driving me crazy that I'm limited to what I can buy, my backpack is already way too heavy! It must be the sunscreen.

Monday we explored Lantau Island which took a couple ferries and buses from HK to go see the big Buddah. Ended up so foggy, we could hardly see him. When a cloud passed in front he disappeared completely. Didn't see any facial features at all but still looked like a friendly guy! Really, his huge silhouette had a graceful presence which was even more mystical sitting in a cloud. I'll post this photo too! Then it poured like mad on us, not just a storm, it looked like buckets of water being thrown on us. I discovered my waterproof jacket is a lie. And the bus air conditioning was on extra freezing, I don't understand, are they really that hot? A few minutes away was a fishing village called Tai O which was so amazing. All the little houses on stilts and old boats filling with water, and falling tarps not really accomplishing much.

Now we are in Guangzhou, China! Only difference is less people speak English... I've learned to count to ten and maybe more and I think can say thank you properly but no matter what they'll always laugh. Ah, it's fun. Markets instead of 7-11's... live eels, frogs and chicken's galore. Good for pictures only!

I'm not sure how this blog will work, I hope to see some comments from you!!! Pam