September 28, 2005

Back in KL for the 4th Time!

The Islamic Arts Museum was exhaustingly full of finely executed details, I could have spent several more hours examining it all. The influence of Arabic arts was brought over to Malaysia and is evident in everything from fabrics to jewelry to metal weapons and boxes to wooden doors to dishes. My favourites being the illuminated Qurans and the various fabrics that were batik, woven or embroidered.

In Chinatown I found some adorable wrapping paper illustrated with tiny cows watching concerts and watching "Gone with the Peanut"! Not sure what peanuts have to do with anything, but Yvonne and I did try some freshly pulled peanuts from the ground in Borobudur... they tasted like peas, imagine that! Must check out their website: P

Love and Hate

I love Bali but I hate Air Asia. They will not help you in the slightest to get on a flight that still has 25 minutes before departure. So I sit here in the airport fuming about the airline rules, having to pay for another ticket, having to wait 6 more hours, to be arriving really late in KL and the fact it really couldn't have been that hard to get me on that plane.

Ok, good thoughts, I want to stop being mad now! A couple days ago, Yvonne and Claire drove me up to Ubud to have a drink on a terrace looking down on a luscious ravine of green rice fields. After playing with the frog ash tray and watching the herons fly in flocks, we watched a Kecak fire and trance show of 100 chanting men in checkered sarongs! I wanted to witness this ever since I watched the scene in Baraka. And although the movie displayed the seated circles of men in a grassy green valley with high mystical mountains all around, our show was still exciting. The music is made with the voices and the dance happens with the sychronized movements. The leader shouts out "A!" and the rest follow with different tones of "Kecak-kecak-kecak-kecak..." repeated really quickly. They tell their story while making patterns with their black and white bodies swaying, standing and lying down. The finale ends with a man on a hobby horse, running through a blazing fire of coconut shells. He stomps back and forth until the burning embers die out and then he shows off his black feet! P

September 25, 2005


Borobudur was just like it was described in the hotel's pamphlet, "High curiousity makes people come to deepen or they just taking a look merely to experience the memorable values behind the gloriousity of the 8th century monument." Walking clockwise, there are stepping terraces that are lined with reliefs telling the story of Buddha's life and other legends. At the top are 3 circles of 72 buddahs in stuppahs that look out to the mountain range around. If you do the pilgrims walk, it would be 5km of meditation along these pictures. One, explained the story of a 2 headed bird. The top head ate the delicious berries from the branches but the lower head could not reach them. The top head asked "Why do you need to eat the berries if we have the same stomach?" The lower head in despair, ate the mushrooms he found on the ground. They turned out to be poisonous and so both heads died. The moral: being greedy does not get you more.

Yogyakarta is a city still run by a Sultan and is swamped in Batik. Traditional batik is a handpainted style of print that is made by a process of drawing patterns with wax and then dying the fabric. Almost everyone wears it either as a tied head peice, a sarong or a shirt. And every becak (bike) driver knew a batik store he would try to drop you off at to get a commission. A second job is common, even for the 2000 employees who work for the Sultan in the Kraton where he lives. One of the security men told us of the approaching tea ceremony which consisted of his mother, the head tea maker and her procession of 4 other batik'd women carrying an umbrella and kettle. His father is the secretary of the Sultan, and of course, does batik on the side.

The intricate details I saw throughout Bali were also prominant here, in these batiks and also the puppets. Wayang makers spend there days hammering tiny holes into water buffalo leather that make up a lattice of spirals and dots. The flat characters are finely painted on both sides and have arms that move at the joints. Our treat one evening was to see a wayang show. The black silhouettes of the puppets are seen behind a back-lit sheet of fabric. The story of the Abduction of Shinta was 2 hours of still figures in Indonesian conversation with their double jointed arms bending periodically. Once in a while something dramatic would happen and the shadows quickly flew across the screen, colliding, singing, and loud, crashing gamelan music enhancing the effects. The full story runs all night and morning, 8 hours long! Very interesting! P

September 19, 2005

Blog Bog

I have neglected my posts for a while and now I'm bogged as to what to focus on today. Thanks for all the great comments and emails, sorry if it takes a while to get back, but I am working on it... on Bali time :)

One of those days last week we drove to the south-western part of Bali in Bukit Penninsula. The attraction there is Uluwatu, a temple built on top of a limestone cliff, hundreds of feet above the Indian Ocean. Sacred monkeys walk along the walls pretending to go about their own business and shyly look up at you with those round little eyes as you pass by. And as you concentrate on taking a well compositioned photo, one of the buggers will snatch and try to take your silver earrings right out of your ear. Damn monkeys! I used to think they were so cute.

The best thing though, was the view of miles of ocean below. Not even one island or boat obstucted the emmense blue flatness of water. I have never seen waves roll in so evenly, each one was predictably the same but facinatingly beautiful in their perfection. The contrast of bright dark blue water against the gleaming white caps crashed together in a soupy mixture before touching the cliff. I really could have watched it all day!

Another one of those days last week, I tagged along with Rod for the day, a Canadian artist living down the road here. Between finding a new sketchbook and shopping for everything else, Rod explained how knowing your market is important to becoming a successful artist. Of course this is true in graphic design as well, but instead of having different projects for different clients with different markets, I have to identify my own work as a product and find out who the market would be. Hm, who would buy my work? P

September 15, 2005

Bali Sketches

Originally uploaded by Art Journey.

On to sketchbook number 3! Some more photos up of Sarawak markets and Bali colours. P

September 09, 2005

Three Oh... My God!

Ever since I turned 29, I kept thinking I'm going to be 30. So after a year of this repeating thought, I may have got used to the idea. It doesn't feel different, but now it's official! Does this mean I'm really an adult now? Mm, I think I'll wait until I'm back home! Until then...

I walked outside to find a trail of square offerings leading to a huge sign of colourful petals saying HAPPY BDAY PAM. Yvonne and Putu told me to go away while they finished it off, so I just watched and took photos of them! Y. and I drank coconuts in the sun and splashed in the sea. Claire made a delicious coconut shake and I was decked out with a thick crown of fragrant Frangipani flowers. It later loosened and fell off to become a necklace, which worked too. We played with the lovebirds and they jumped and ate the petals that matched their own colours exactly. Then took off to eat at Mezzanine, a classy restaurant with a piano player. I missed Phad Thai, so ordered that and we sipped a bottle of red wine. The pianist pleasantly played Happy Birthday and a decadant chocolate mousse with a blue lagoon appeared infront of me. One of the transport guys called across the patio, "How old are you?". "30". "So am I!" "Really?" "You look young." "Great!" I said and we were very merry.

Thank you for all the ecards and wishes! Miss you all lots. P

September 08, 2005

Borneo Photos

pam 267
Originally uploaded by Art Journey.

Here we are in the rice field, grains just planted on this day. Click here to see more photos of Borneo and the great adventure into Sarawak!

September 07, 2005


Ubud is the centre of artwork and handicrafts. Independent galleries line the narrow streets with their colourful displays of paintings. Markets were packed with row upon rows of sarongs, baskets and carved masks. Face sculptures vary from lacey wooden goddesses to smiling stone elephants with a red hybiscus behind each ear. Carvings of fanged demon masks with wide open mouths and strange contorted human heads with buck teeth and bulgy eyes.

The Neka Art Museum showed some Arie Smit's, there was a gallery of female artists, and another exhibiting funny drawings by a 7 year old. The 75 cent lattes and $3 massages have added to the abundance of inspiration to keep me drawing for the rest of my life and afterwards. The cute little love birds are keeping me busy at the moment! P

September 02, 2005

South of the Equator

My first glimpse of Bali was Yvonne and Claire jumping outside the airport window calling my name as I was about to go through customs. I am so happy to see them, it's the first time I've seen someone familiar in 4 months! I get to stay in their little paradise of the speak-hear-see-no-evil statue pouring water into the pool and buddah watching over the walkway surrounded by a pond of water lilies and fish.

Bali is also so beautiful! Everything is so intricate from the hundreds of stone carvings on the temples and the wooden frames and souvenirs. And so colourful from the small flower offerings on each doorstep to the freshly painted boats on the beach. Kites fly everywhere in the sky throughout the day and people smile all the time. The moon is upside down and the toilet water flushes the other way. P

Malaysia Day

I flew back to KL just in time (although unplanned) for Malaysia's 48th Independance Day. I pretty much avoided the crowded streets of perfumed spray string and watched the view from the hostel's roof top patio. The fireworks started at midnight on the 30th and were sychronized in 4 different parts of the city. From the rooftop, we stood pretty much in the centre of the 4 points. Sometimes the crackles could only be heard behind the skyscrapers. And most of the time I saw only half of the display. But the effect was the other half reflecting in the towers of mirrored windows across the city. The colours flickering and the noises bouncing back and forth made for a great surround-fireworks display!

I discovered laksa in Kutching which is so delicious. I was on a mission to eat it again before I left Malaysia. I found it in Chinatown... a curry, coconut soup with noodles, bean sprouts, chicken and shrimp... mmm, so good! P