Saturday, 28 January 2017

Vietnam and Cambodia

A Happy New Rooster Year! 

Today I have a few selected pictures from Vietnam and Cambodia to share with you. I have a lot of pictures, and it was not easy choosing just a few. They will in no way give a satisfactory picture of these 2 awesome countries, but hopefully a small taste to inspire. We had a little less than 2 weeks for our vacation over christmas and new year, and we decided to see both Vietnam and Cambodia. We definitely want to go back and see more.

We started with Vietnam where we visited Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh (old Saigon). My first impression of Vietnam was that the Chinese influence in traditional architecture, decorations and old temples felt huge. The people and food were completely different though, and I would love to go back and visit some smaller towns along the coast. People were so kind, enthusiastic and just great. The food was excellent. I could honestly go back just for the food! Easy to say: we loved it there!
Hanoi was busy and noisy. Scooters, laughter, music, street foods and restaurants everywhere. But it was a positive atmosphere. We spent 4 days exploring the city before flying down to Ho Chi Minh. It almost felt like coming yet to another country. A more modern country. Downtown old Saigon was like a smaller version of Shanghai. The people and food just as amazing.

Lets start of with a traditional vacation picture. Here we are, all 4 of us travelling together. From the left: my hubby, me, Blair and Rain.

The architecture in Ha Noi old town was quite different. Very narrow houses that could be several stories high, and often very deep.

Night market.

Colourful crafts.

Cozy street food.


Pho. The traditional noodle soup of Vietnam. Yummy!

Ho Chi Minh. The largest city in Vietnam. 

The remnants museum in Ho Chi Minh. A museum dedicated to the war of Vietnam. Not for the faint hearted as the pictures inside are quite horrible. Interesting to see, but also very depressing. We also went outside the city for a day and had a look at the network of tunnels the Vietnamese people used in their gerilla war against the Us troops.

Wet market. All the fruit, veggies and seafood that you need.

Here we leave Vietnam and continue with Cambodia. We flew from Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap. There we spend 3 days exploring Angkor Wat and its surrounding temples. From there we hired a car to drive us south to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. We celebrated New years eve there before heading back home. Cambodia felt more exotic than Vietnam, mainly because for me it felt so much more different from China than what Vietnam did. The people were even more friendlier if it's possible. The food however... well, lets say that we did not eat a lot of 'local' food. The traditional food tasted like watered down Indian food with not much taste. Maybe we were unlucky in our first choices. But we did find excellent sushi, Mexican and even French food... I think it is the first time I have come to a new country and not liked the local cuisine...
From all my photos from Cambodia I have chosen my favourites from the temples to show you here. Angkor Wat and the hundreds of temples surrounding it in the 'jungle' were awesome, and I am so happy that I have had a change to see it. Beautiful architecture, and looking quite romantic half in ruins amongst the trees. The Khmer civilisation that build the Temples has a fascinating history.  Angkor was was the biggest city in the world in its glory days (12th and 13th century). Quite a lot is known about how they lived thanks to ancient texts, but why they suddenly abandoned their cities and temples is a mystery. There are a lot of theories about foreign invasion, starvation and so on. But as there are very few written documents about that, they remain theories.

The main temple Angkor Wat. It is the biggest and the best preserved temple of them all. Build for  the Hindu god Vishnu, but became later a buddhist temple. Every new Ruler of the Khmer empire build his own temple, or added to the existing ones. So the forest around Angkor Wat is 'littered'
with temples of all forms and sizes. Many of them are almost complete ruins today as they have been 'retaken' by the forest, but many has been reconstructed.

The side of the temples were richly decorated and almost every surface was in some way or another carved. Pictures of the Hindu gods and a lot of ornaments and texts.

One of my favourite temple was a temple who's 'creator' (one of the emperor of Khmer) had his own face carved on all the towers instead that of a god. 

The most photographed ruin and tree in the entire temple complex. I have to admit that it is beautiful.

I hope you enjoyed these pictures, and I can really warmly recommend these two countries for a vacation. 

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Happy New Year!

Happy, creative and a blessed new year to every one!!!

2016 flew past at the same time that it felt like it lasted forever.... Thinking back I almost can't believe all the things I got to do and see...

- January: we moved apartment.
- February: we celebrated my dads birthday with my whole family in Thailand.
- March: studio time
- April: A 2 weeks trip to New Orleans!!
- May/June: studio time
- July: we spend a month in Finland almost exclusively living on our new boat.
- August: I visited The Netherlands and enjoyed a cousins wedding. I also had an Exhibition in Gallery Karaija in Inkoo (Finland). I also flew for a few days to Bergen in Norway to visit my cousin there and meet my new family member Lisanne, by the time only 4 weeks old!
- September: Back to Shanghai for a while. A 2 weeks trip to Singapore and Indonesia to visit my bestie.
- October: Tried to start getting something done in the studio again.
- November/December: Back in Finland for a few weeks, enjoying a little snow for the first time in 6 years...
- December: Celebrating Christmas and new year in Vietnam and Cambodia...

You see? It has been a busy, quite crazy year jumping from one country to another, and trying to get a little bit of painting done in between it all.... But also quite a wonderful and very VERY enjoyable and fantastic year!!

The new year has started of quite nice as well: I have my first ever exhibition in Shanghai coming up in April... With help from some beautiful people I got in contact with a Gallery that was happy to receive me. The plan right now is that I will exhibit there the last 2 weeks of April. But before that the Gallery owner will take a few of my paintings with her to an art fair in Singapore (this month) and to another art fair in Hong Kong (in March). And: she liked one of my paintings (one of the kingfishers) so much that she bought it straight away for herself... *doing a happy dance*

Looking through my older blogpost I realise that I never did show you pictures from either Thailand nor The Netherlands... I have also been thinking this month of how I want to go further with this blog. What is my 'plan' for it. Shall I continue as before, or should I start a separate blog for my travels? When I first started this blog it was to be an update of my life abroad for family and friends home in Finland. Quite fast it became more of an art blog, with photos of my travels thrown in between. What do you think?
Then again, my travels do influence my painting, so in that way they are related...

Anyhow, before I share some pictures from the beautiful Vietnam and Cambodia (either here or in a new blog, lets see....) I have a few pics from the studio for you!

I have a new toy!!! I will try and start making my own stencils from now on! There are a few good 'printing' or cutting machines for stencils, but the one I want is not available here in China. They do not ship these machines internationally, so I just have to wait until I find a retailer who sells it!

Backgrund for flowers. 

I never got this one finish for the summer exhibition, so I brought it back to China. Now I am trying to get it done for April instead. I have worked a little on the background as I thought it was little too bright, and now I will add a few layers of oil on the bird to get those feathers looking good.

Some ideas looks better as sketches in a book than they do on canvas. I guess I am overworking and overthinking it a bit, so I will continue experimenting until I am satisfied. I will either try to paint a flower on this background, or start over. Starting over should give me a lovely texture with this underneath if nothing else...

Bigger canvases in the making. Sometimes it feels really freeing and good to paint on bigger canvases! And I need a few big ones to fill the walls in the gallery for my up coming exhibition.