Despite the weather turning bad on the descent which reduced visibility to less than 10m and transformed my body into a snow covered walking (falling) icicle, Thorong La Pass proved to be an exhausting yet rewarding experience and the highlight of the Annapurna Circuit trek.
Arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal three days ago for two months of Himalayan magic.
Today I asked a Thangka gallery in Thamel if I could visit their painting school to learn about the techniques and traditions of Thangka. They where more than happy to show and tell and organised for a student and a master painter to drive me across town to a small neighbourhood where they teach and create Thangka. We spoke about the preparation and stretching of the canvas using yak gum, the stages each painting goes through and the process of novices tracing, colour blocking and shading before handing over to the master who paints in the facial detail. My lovely student host also described the breathing and meditation techniques involved in the Thangka painting process.
Afterwards they led me to a small room in the building next door where monks chanted the story of the universe and I was blessed by one of the most important Lamas in Nepal/Tibet. I love Nepal.
Vang Vieng has a terrible reputation as being a hedonistic tourist spot in Laos due to a legacy of drunken tourists drowning whist tubing in the Mekong. I’m not so into drowning so I decided to avoid it by spending several days pretending to be a hardcore explorer scrambling through the many limestone caves.
Travelling through Laos I find the most satisfying and adventurous form of transport are the tag team local shared tuk tuks which traverse the country. With a fellow traveller I met on a 9 hour local bus journey from Pakse to Thakeak, we walked to a local tuk tuk stand and called out “Kong Lo, Kong Lo” til we where directed onboard a local shared tuk tuk along with bags of rice and veg. What followed was 6 hours of hopping on and off different tuk tuks until we arrived at Kong Lo village amidst a stunning 360 degree vista of limestone mountains. Kong Lo Cave is a 1km walk from the village and is exactly like being in a David Attenborough documentary.
Cambodia has become my new temporary home for the last few weeks.
After three months of living in the Thai countryside dedicating all my time to the development of my studio practice, I have successfully spent the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 being as lazy as possible with weeks lying on white sand beaches and zero art being made.
Thankfully being in Cambodia is such a colourful and fascinating experience in itself, that all I need is a camera and my two legs to capture my surroundings.