Thursday, 28 June 2012

Cambodia - Day 1 (My Hubby's a hero!!)

We left Australia on Tuesday morning and flew to Singapore.  We stayed overnight in Singapore and visited the Night Safari which was absolutely wonderful.  The Safari has a train that goes all the way around and you are also able to walk the tracks to view the animals at your leisure.  The displays are very well set up with very unobtrusive fencing and keepers who call to the animals and throw them small treats to keep them alert and active.

Our flight to Siem Reap yesterday was pretty uneventful.  We had a short stop at Da Nang in Vietnam.  It was fascinating to see all the aircraft hangers and even fighter planes in them I would gather were from the war years.

We arrived in Cambodia in the late afternoon and the security to get in the country is quite interesting.  When we got off the plane we walked across the tarmac to the terminal.  Here we were met by someone checking our boarding pass from the plane - not sure how else we would have arrived at that door if we hadn't come off that plane given the number of bods watching as we walked across the tarmac! There were some people going on to Singapore so I guess they were making sure none of them tried to slip through.  After that we had three pages of documentation, including a passport photo and $20 US to had over for our visas.  On to the next counter where they give you back your passport with the newly attached visa and a piece of blue paper.  On to the next gate where you hand over the blue paper and voila you are now in Cambodia!

We were met outside by a tuk tuk driver from our accomodation.  We had decided that it was the easy way given we do not know the costs etc here.  I had photos but at this minute Richard is trying to download a file recovery program on his computer because the disk from my little camera appears to have decided to choose now to die!! (Yay he rescued the photos!!!)

The trip from the airport was the usual asian craziness.  Motorbikes and scooters with seemingly impossible numbers of people on them.  Most of the people not wearing helmets, but in some cases the adults wore helmets and children did't. There were dogs and cows on the side of the road and the traffic was going chaotically every which way but still it all seemed to flow somehow.

Our accommodation is lovely.  We are staying at a place called 'The Golden Banana' and somehow it reminds me a lot of the place were stayed at in Marakesh.  There is a pool in the middle of the building and our room is on the first floor.  The stairway to our room is very steep.  We were greeted with an iced lime tea...yum!  We only settled in for a few minutes before going out for dinner.  I have to say that we were not overly taken with the food last night.  We had spring rolls which were quite tasty and followed them with a curry (very, very mild) and a fish amok which was also quite boring.  I somehow expected the food to be spicy like Thai food.  I guess we will keep searching for something more exciting!

After dinner we decided to wander through one section of the night markets.  We were walking down the first aisle when we realised that the heavens had opened up and it was teaming down.  Within minutes areas of the markets were ankle deep in water and the stall owners were putting up sheeting to protect their wares.  In typical tropical style it had eased right off after a few minutes and we managed to make it back to our room without getting too drenched.  More impressively we managed to jump the puddles well enough that our shoes stayed relatively dry.

This morning after breakfast we went to the artisan's centre.  It is a place where they teach disadvantaged youth (18 to 25 year olds) to produce silk paintings, and make ornaments of painted timber , silver dipped, carved wood or carved stone for the local tourist industry.  It was fascinating and great to see them trying to provide a living for the local people.  The women who were doing the silk painting were all deaf and mute and were also being taught to communicate using sign language.  The guide who took us around started off as an apprentice wood carver and has gone on to study further and learn English so that he could be trained as a tour guide.

There are obviously many poor people here and many affected by the landmines.  We have encountered a few children begging on the street and one women who seemed to be sky high and told us to 'f*** off' when we said no to her request for money.

After visiting the artisan's centre we went for a bit of a wander around town and then sat at a bar called 'The Red Piano' on the corner of Pub Street and watched the world go by for a while.  Richard had a beer and I had a 'Tomb Raider' cocktail.  Apparently it was Angelina Jolie's favourite when she was here.  It was a cointreau, lime and soda.  Very yummy!!

These are some of the views from where we were sitting:

We decided to come back to our room and have a rest from the afternoon heat.  We had not long been in our room and the sky opened up again and down it poured!  It has stopped now and Richard has found a program that says it is recovering the photos.....we'll see.  I'll post this now and if we get those photos I will add some of them later.  We do have photos on Richard's camera we just don't have a card reader that is working!  So technology is defeating us....just be patient they will be worth the wait!! (I knew they would be!!!)

Big hugs to you all.

Friday, 20 January 2012

A quick reminder!

I just noticed that JoyJam is up on this blog and after my week decided that I needed to remind me, that there were some things that made me smile!

1. Receiving support from my beautiful daughter at just the moment when I was feeling completely overwhelmed.  I am so proud of you and love you so much Ash!!

2. Spending time with my ever so gorgeous grandson!

3. Spending a day drawing while watching the tennis!

4.  The kookaburras laughing in our garden (who wouldn't smile at just the sound of these wonderful birds) and we are blessed by them several times a day.

5. The evening 'debrief' with the love of my life!

 What were the 3-5 things that gave you joy this week?

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Creativity Abounds

The New Year has seen me spending mountains of time nurturing my creativity.  In the first few days of the month, I have looked at the first lesson of Tam's 'Ultimate World of Whimsy' and as a result created this:

Tam taught us how to draw whimsical people and cute little creatures - so much fun!  The quote by Christine Castro Hughes, came from one of the books I was given for Christmas 'Desire to Inspire' by Christine Mason Miller.  So far I have read the first few chapters and am in fact finding it incredibly inspirational - ah and there is my chosen word!  I am also creating some cards to go with the first activity in that book, but will leave them for show and tell until I have finished a few more.

At the end of last year my gorgeous daughter gave me a book called 'One Sketch A Day'.  It is a visual journal in which you can record a sketch each day.  I decided to start it on January 1st, and so here are the sketches up until today:

They are only small and are very quick sketches, so far usually done in about 5 minutes or so!

Not done yet!  I have also completed last week's lessons for Jane Davenport's 'I Heart Drawing' class where we were focussing on drawing walking figures:

and the torso with natural breasts and uplifted breasts!

Last Friday I was absolutely thrilled when I was able to go to the Matisse Exhibition at GOMA in Brisbane.  The exhibition was brilliant and well worth the three and a half hour drive there and back!  I had one of my very dear friends with me.  It was Coralie I thought of as I toured galleries in Europe; all the time thinking that I wished she were with me as she would love it.  Coralie is an art teacher and it was just amazing sharing this experience with her.  I learnt so much about different art processes that I never really understood before.  Finally I know for sure that I was right all those time I was thinking of her when I toured the other exhibitions! Just one small aspect of the exhibition was the 'drawing room'.  It was set up with an area to eat and drink (yummy, yummy food!), a musician playing clasical music on the violin and then there were still lifes set up and drawing equipment so you could do as Matisse did and draw!  The photo below shows lots of people doing just that!  Such a beautiful atmosphere!

I bought a book filled with images of the Matisse works we saw on display and when I came home that night I sat and drew one of his drawing from the book and a quote from the exhibition into one of my art journals.

Today I managed to finish the piece for the first week of the free online course I am doing with Strathmore Online.  It is called 'Doodles Unleashed' and is being taught by Traci Bautista and I have to say it is fabulous!  The fact that it is free is amazing I think and I would honestly say that if you have time you should absolutely consider it!  I did this piece on a 30 x 30cm canvas board and am so glad I did.  I have only really done my work in journals and decided after a few prompts from a friend that I could indeed use canvasses!

I had poured some drawing ink into a container to use on the piece above and didn't like wasting it so decided to grab a journal and a book off my shelf  and see what happened.  I drew this and am quite pleased as a first attempt to draw with brush and ink - no pencil, just ink!

I was going to paint him with water colours, but was not sure that the drawing ink is waterproof so decided not to risk it until I have checked.  He's not perfect, but he is cute I think!

Add to all this art that I have been at the gym four days a week, spending time with my grandson and keeping up with the chores around the house (well sort of!) and I have to say it has been a fabulous start to the new year!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Welcoming 2012

The New Year 2012 has dawned and I have to say it is with some degree of nervousness and excitement that I am here!  The past two years have been so jammed packed with adventure that my imagination is drawing blanks when I think about where to from here.  We have travelled, made friends, and I know I have discovered many things about myself that have been some of life's most valuable lessons.  I was asked before leaving London what my plans were when we arrived back in Australia and I have to say I felt rather stupid because I had no response.  I had the plan to come home to Australia to live again and that was it!  I didn't know where I was going to be working and I didn't know how I was going to keep myself moving forward in this life.  All a bit daunting really.  I am still really unsure about all of this.

In the next few weeks I will start a new job in a different school.  I will be returning to teaching in a Special Education Program in a local mainstream high school, but have no idea how this program is operated!  I am not sure what will be expected of me and am worried that it will all lack the excitement and interest of my London job.  I am so worried that after two years of life feeling so, so brilliant that it will seem mundane.  Not one to sit on my hands and let that happen, I have decided to take steps to ensure that I keep moving forwards!

I am currently enrolled in 5 on line art courses!  I have another 4 weeks to go of Jane Davenport's 'I Heart Drawing Class' (absolutely brilliant!!!) and today I start a free course with Strathmore (4 weeks) being taught by Traci Bautista and then also today I start on the 'Lifebook' course with Willowing and with the Lifebook course came access to another two Willowing courses (for me 'The Wonderful World of Whimsy' and 'Awesome Art Journals').  So you can see I plan on being a busy girl!

Having said that I have also decided than rather than make a New Year's resolution that I would follow the lead from a few blogs I have read lately and choose a word to guide me for the year.  After much to-ing and fro-ing I have chosen the word 'inspiration'.  I have decided that I really want to keep reminding myself to be open to inspiration from all sorts of sources and that even when something is getting up my nose I can reframe and use it as a source of inspiration to move towards better things.  I also know that I need to keep using my skills and talents to be an inspiration for others, it brings great joy into my heart.  I keep reminding myself of all that has happened in the past few years and how wonderful it has all been.  I want to use that as an inspiration for myself and others as to how wonderful life can be.

Here's the latest from my art desk.....still needs some work, but that's OK I thought I would share it with you anyway!

So maybe this year is one for me to regroup, seek inspiration and work out where the next big step in this adventure will be.  Hey if you had asked me in March 2004 if I thought all this was possible I would have said 'no way'!  Life's biggest turning point for me in this phase was on the 9th April 2004 when I literally fell in love at first sight!