When we booked the cruise, we didn't realise how much travelling we had to do in order get to destinations from the ports. Although, only two hours from Bangkok, we were told to expect long delays because of traffic. Here we decided to get our cultural fix out of the way and visit some temples.
An early start again wasn't welcome, but we were soon on our way and our guide was a real character telling us all how to be healthy and leading us on a series of exercises on the coach. He even went around offering back massages, before trying to sell the herbal medicines he assured us would solve all our aches and pains. Not much information about the places we passed on the way though.
Our first stop was the Grand Palace. On previous tours, we had borrowed cover ups before going into temples and hadn't realised we needed to bring our own on this cruise. Fortunately, they sold trousers and tops for a couple of pounds outside the entrance. Suitably attired, we entered and joined the ensuing throng of visitors. The palace was impressive and the decorated shrines were awesome. We expected a commentary from the guide but he just told us where to meet him and left us to find our way around; not ideal but a chance to explore on our own.
One of the most famous artefacts within the Palace was the Jade Buddha. This was a tiny statue situated on top of a decorated shrine. No photographs were allowed but it truly was an impressive sight.
We left the Palace and followed our guide down to the river, where we had a short boat ride to visit a Hindu Temple called the Wat Arun Temple, which again was amazing. We were able to have a quick look round the market area on the riverside whilst we waited for the boat to collect us. Once on the boat, we sailed along the Chao Phraya River; we were off to visit the Wat Pho Temple, which was the home of the giant supine Buddha. Walking around the statue, you couldn't help admiring the workmanship and wondering about the amount of gold used to cover it.
,Back on the coach we set off for our return journey. It was a long, tiring journey, with the first two traffic lights, leading out of the city centre, taking one hour to pass through!
Arriving back on the ship, we reflected on our impressions of Bangkok; an interesting city with its traditional historic and religious sites, intermingling with the modern skyscrapers and not forgetting alongside the river, the old sections of city with ramshackle, decaying houses. A city worthy of a longer visit!
Apparently, at one time it had been like Venice but now most of the canals had been filled in for a road network, but this has created something that feels like a large car park that takes ages to drive through.
Just as a footnote, after spending all of the journey to the city, telling us how to stay healthy and the benefits of exercise and herbal medicines, the guide gave us a long talk about his illnesses. This then led on to the cost of health care in the country and how he was struggling to pay for all the medicines he needed. He also told us how previous members of tour groups, often offered to let him stay for free, when he holidayed in their countries! Needless to say, after these subtle hints I'm not sure if anyone gave him their email; we certainly didn't!
What to do was the question? The idea of going to a beach appealed but we were not sure we could last several hours in the sun. We had never done a 4x4 experience and the idea of visiting a local waterfall clinched the deal.
What we hadn't realised was that we would have to be up at 6am because it was a tender to shore.
Arriving at the harbour, we were escorted to our vehicle and along with six other people we were soon on our way.
The first stop was described as a visit to a rubber plantation but proved to be a couple of stalls by the side of the main road. Here the traffic noise drowned out what could have been an interesting talk and demonstration. Interestingly, the man did all the talking and the woman all the hard work setting up the machines.
After this, we left the main road and went up the tracks, half concrete and with sections of rough ground. This proved to be quite amusing, in our vehicle, as we were bounced around, not so in the vehicle we saw in front of us.
Our next stop was at the highest temple on the island, as well as being an impressive place there were excellent views over the area, including another temple that was being rebuilt. We also had a chance to sample, or buy, some of the local fruit from a couple of small stalls. I won't mention the toilet facilities here!
After another bumpy ride, we arrived at the waterfall; a superb natural area of beauty. I didn't have time to sketch this but did manage to collect some interesting images that I could use later. You could swim there, but we decided to explore further, as there was only a small swimming area and not many of our group decided to bathe there.
This was another mode of transport crossed off our list! On the whole, an interesting experience. The 'rubber plantation' was a disappointment as we expected a tour of one. The temple was a unexpected treat and the waterfall was impressive. You could probably do these sites a lot cheaper by local taxi but the off road experience enhanced it for us.
Getting back to the boat I decided to have a play with a sketch of the waterfall. I had used salt with watercolour before but had forgotten how messy it could be and it didn't seem to want to come off the paper when the paint dried. It did intertest one of the waiters though who then followed my sketching exploits later on in the cruise.
After a long flight and three busy days in different ports, we were looking forward to a restful sea day. Not being great sunbathers any more, we weren't fussed about getting out early for a sun bed.
After a lie in, we found a nice quiet table by the pool and relaxed there either reading or in my case sketching as well. The beauty of this area was the wide range of people to draw.
About two o clock, some people had started to go in and beds became available so we could then sunbathe as it was very slightly cooler. A nice way to relax and prepare for several more trips over the next few days.
An interesting day as we had already stayed in Singapore for several days last year and seen most of the sights. Arriving early to collect our passports, it was interesting to realise that there had been rain on our journey to the port. and the sky was still overcast.
We had already decided to visit the Botanic Gardens, as this was the main place we had missed last time. Buying a day ticket for the MRT proved more difficult than it should have been, as there was only one booth open and a long queue. Eventually, we set off and were soon at the garden and found, surprisingly, it was free to get in.
Wandering around the grounds was a pleasant, relaxing change from the busy schedule so far. We are always enthralled by the patterns found in nature and after viewing some artwork, inspired by leaves, on display in the café, I decided to collect some and try out some ideas.
My idea was to use the leaves to print on the page and then use some of the shapes of leaves and flowers, I had seen, to draw on top. Using watercolours meant that the prints weren't as I would have liked, but it would be impossible to take all the art materials, you may need, on a cruise. Still its good to just play with ideas now and again.
Next, we went to see if the famous Raffles Hotel and bar were open, as it was being renovated last time we were here. On arriving, the queue lining up to go in was too long, so we settled for a picture outside it.
After a long walk, and then a quick break for some refreshment at the still impressive Circular Quay, we arrived at the Gardens by the Bay, via the Marina Bay Sands Mall. This was a little disappointing, as the sky walk was closed and the buzz of excitement we felt last time was missing. Still, it's a fascinating place to wander around and stunning when lit up at night, which was a shame as the ship left before this happened.
Deciding to get the MRT back to the ship we made the mistake of thinking it was a circular line, when in fact it only went one way. This then took an hour as it went all the way around the city. Fortunately, we had left plenty of time to get back to the ship.
The sail away was impressive as the city lit up on one side and Sentosa Island on the other.
Singapore is a stunning city and a complete contrast from many of the other ports of call. A place that definitely warrants a longer stay.
Some of my Blogs from my previous visit to Singapore giving an idea of all the things to see.
When going to a new place, we always try to look for something different to do. Lots of the excursions here featured city tours and we decided to go on one that featured the #BatuCaves, before it went into the city.
The caves are a vast limestone area. carved out millions of years ago, which were converted into a place of worship for the Hindu religion and there are temples around and inside the caves. The 350 steps going up didn't give us much of a problem but coming down you had to be careful not to slip.
The vast cavern was impressive with its ornate temples and there were small monkeys living in it. It was fascinating watching people arriving to worship in their finery and seeing the traditions involved.
The next stop was a short drive into the centre of Kuala Lumpur; the KL Tower,which the guide told us was now the 7th highest in the world, but is slowly going down the rankings as more are built. We proceeded up to the viewing platform where we could walk 360 degrees round looking over the city. The views were good, but I have seen better in other cities, although it was a shame we could not go right to the top of the tower, as this would have been more interesting.
After a stop for lunch, we were taken to view the #PetronasTowers; a standout piece of modern architecture. We would rather have had the chance to go into this impressive building and go across the walkway, if this is allowed. On a side note the local youths did a roaring trade selling clip on, wide angle lenses, for your phone, so you could capture both towers in one picture.
Summing up the day, the guide could talk in an Olympic event, as he talked for the full journey there and most of the way back, giving us a headache! Having said that, he clearly loved his country and even tried to get us to retire there.
The trip was advertised as the 'Best of Kuala Lumpur' and although we did stop in a couple of places there must be more to see; trip advisor lists 105 things to see or do! A drive round the main centre of Independence Square, to see the colonial architecture would have added to the day out.
However, the caves were well worth a visit and one of the highlights of the holiday, whereas the city tour only gave us a brief glimpse of some of the sights, which was a shame.
Looking at pictures, Kuala Lumpur, certainly seems to come to life when lit up in the evening. A pity we couldn't experience it!
After sleeping-in the next day, we eventually set off to explore Penang. After getting a map from a tourist counter on the way out and negotiating the throng of taxi drivers etc. we set off not knowing what to expect.
We were soon surprised to find a narrow street filled with artwork and for a change it was possible to interact with these, which several tourists, including ourselves enjoyed doing. We soon realised that this was a theme of the area and set out to find more.
This seemed to be a new trend in several cities. As some of the old industries disappear, this simple idea creates interest and a chance to find a new identity. It also creates a tourist attraction, and one, which looking at the number of different nationalities viewing them, was a really successful idea, These pieces of artwork, being interactive, gave a novel approach to the idea and was appreciated by visitors as well as now being listed as a heritage site.
After finding several more artworks, and having a tour of a Chinese market, where the art walk was featured on several buildings, we also managed to take a look at some of Penang's landmarks. Then, after a hot, busy day, it was back to the ship .
Talking to other guests, who had gone on the rickshaws, they would recommend the activity, as they had enjoyed the adventure round the busy city. We were sorry to have missed this but finding the artwork was an added bonus for us.
To save the planet's resources, Marella have stopped giving out paper maps of the ports that they visit; instead they suggest you take a picture of one on an interactive screen, on board ship, which is not ideal. Although we applaud their good intentions, we were surprised that we received about ten information sheets on trips alone, and also one leaflet each night called Cruise News. If you were being cynical, you could wonder if, by not providing a map, the company would hope that passengers wound be more likely to buy their trips, rather than travel out into the unknown on their own.
If we had known this before arriving on the cruise, we could have printed our own maps, or as a lot of cruise information is now on their Navigate App and on the interactive screens, a map could be added as a downloadable PDF.
In a couple of ports, they had welcome desks and you could get a map there; one guest went into the nearest hotel, as most receptions have a tourist map on their counters. The Cruise News leaflet that you receive every night, could have included a small map, that you could take out with you.
We weren't the only passengers who felt this way; it was one of the main topics of conversation round the destination service area!
As we set off for our cruise, we weren't looking forward to the twelve hour flight but it wasn't as bad as expected being slightly shorter than we had been told. However, after watching four films, I was beginning to feel tired but as we flew into the early sunshine and new time zone, the cabin was flooded with light and so I had no time to get some sleep; so time then for another film!
Arriving in Langkawi, boarding the ship was the quickest we had ever experienced, as arrivals were spread over two days. After a quick meal, our cases had arrived, so we got changed and went for a walk.
The port was very pleasant and we walked as far as the nearby beach, passing a hotel with open Wi-Fi, an added bonus! However, after not sleeping for 24 hours, the heat soon got to us, so we went back for a short sleep before the evening meal and the first of the nightly shows that are popular on cruise ships. We did a little exploring, as this was the first time on the Discovery. Then time for an early night, after two long tiring days.
Lots of small Islands. This reminded me of a skull.
We set sail into the Sunset. Our adventure begins.
Visit to #VernonMill thoughts on #WoodendMill and memories of The #LanternGallery #TheNailMaker'sHouse #Worsley
Yesterday, we needed to go to Stockport to visit a garage and on the way, we passed Vernon Mill. We had been meaning to visit the mill for ages but the last time we tried everywhere was closed.
After going to the garage, we drove to the mill; parking is not easy outside so we drove across the road to park.
On entering, we followed the signs for the third floor, where we found the work on display from the wide range of artists who have studios there. Being a quiet day, not many of the artists were there at the time, although we did get chance to play 'throw and fetch' with one of the artist's dog. It took an instant liking to Sue, who spent a few moments throwing a soft toy teddy bear for the dog to fetch!
A fascinating place with lots of superb art work on show. Unfortunately, like many of these old mills its in need of some work, as it is starting to show it's age. Also several of the studios that were open didn't have heating so the large spaces were quite cold, although a couple of artists working on the day were well wrapped up.
Over the last few years, we have also visited Woodend Mill in Mossley, where there are several floors of artist's studios. A couple of artists, I know, have studios there. Again, it's great to see where the work is produced and there is always a wide range of styles to appreciate. There is also quite a nice atmosphere on open days. These studios are a lot smaller and seem in better repair and certainly warmer. There is also a nice garden centre café in the grounds.
I have sometimes wondered what it would be like to have a studio in one of these places. Would you work more not having other distractions or would you be constantly chatting with other artists?
I actually had a small taste of this when I joined with four other artists in the early 80's and we ran a studio in what as the old Nail Maker's cottage in Worsley. It was called The Lantern gallery and overlooked the Bridgewater canal.
One artist was a wood carver, another did sewing and painting, one did Pyrography and the other specialised in watercolours.
Looking back, this was an enjoyable experience in many ways. We shared manning the studio and mainly opened weekends. We were on the middle floor, upstairs had been another exhibition space and on the bottom floor was a local photographer.
The setting in Worsley was stunning and we had a steady flow of visitors. To pay for the rent I needed to sell one painting a month, which was quite achievable but I did finish up having to paint a lot of local scenes, particularly the Packet House, a local landmark. This did become a little tedious.
Unfortunately, the landlord decided to double the rent after a year and this made the venture not cost effective. We had enjoyed the experience and even looked for a new venue but these were all too expensive and we drifted into different areas.
Below are three pictures from that time. The first one is of Ernest Duffield, the superb woodcarver, who was part of the group. The second one is a small painting I did for a Christmas card and the last one is a poor quality image of a Winter scene of the area.
It's always interesting to visit the mills etc to see the work on show, particularly when I follow some of the artist on Facebook. I am lucky to have a studio in my house and am able to interact with other artists at my local art Club, so have the best of both worlds.
I have sent paintings through the post before, but mainly in the UK. When a client asked could he arrange for one to go to Australia there didn't seem to be any problems. He was paying for the packaging and the company to collect and deliver the painting.
I arranged with a local hardware store, on Irlams o' th' Height, to make a suitable container and the painting was encased in bubble wrap and then placed in a large plywood box and delivered to my house.
The delivery company sent me the paperwork to be completed at my end, all five sheets of it, and shortly afterwards collected the box.
Then, in mid-November, they rang with the first small problem. Apparently, I had not given them certain information, which, when I checked the form, there was no mention that this information was needed. I explained this to the company that if I hadn't been asked for it, how could I have given it. This seemed to be too much for the agent I spoke to but needless to say, it was eventually sorted and a new form with the relevant information was sent.
About two to three weeks later, I was pleased to hear that the box had arrived in Australia. Here, the client just needed to sort out a couple of things before delivery, which, after several emails was also arranged.
The last week in December we had a short break in Iceland. Whilst we were away, a card was pushed through the door about a parcel not being able to be delivered. Being Christmas we had ordered several presents and this was not a surprise, so I rang up and arranged to collect it.
The next day, a van arrived and as I looked out, the driver was trying to deliver a large box which looked exactly like the one I had sent only a few weeks ago! He told me that this had been sent to me from Australia!
I then had to tell him that I had sent it to Australia and that was where it was meant to be. He spoke to someone in the office .
I wondered if it was the confused agent I had spoken to previously. However,he agreed to take it back to the depot.
Several phone calls later and having to explain the mix-up to different people each time, I hoped something had been sorted. Talking to the client, he was obviously upset, as he had emails from the Australian branch of the company, saying that everything had been resolved.
Next, to my surprise, I got an invoice from the UK company asking me to pay an import duty for the painting sent from Australia. You can imagine my disbelief! A few more telephone calls land eventually, they agreed to look into this.
Then, not having heared anything for a few days, I got a text from the client saying that the painting had eventually been delivered to him.
The funny thing about all this, is that when I looked at the tracking, I noticed that the first time it travelled to Australia, it took a couple of weeks to get there, yet only three days to come back!
This was certainly a learning process and I'm glad to say that at least the UK company have cancelled my invoice for it's arrival back here. I know one of the men who works at the Hardware store, who made the box for the painting and keeping him updated, has kept his workmates amused with the on going saga.
Hopefully, the client and his family like the painting, after all the trouble it has caused, and can enjoy it as they sit at the dining table. A nice reminder of England as they enjoy the warmth.
As for me, I think that it looks good1
Whenever I go to Manchester I try to call in at the Art gallery, especially if there is a new exhibition on. Unfortunately, like many galleries, because of cut backs these don't tend to change as often as they used to.
The present exhibition by mother and daughter Caroline Broadhead and Maisie Broadhead is one that I hadn't seen before.
"The exhibition presents new works in response to historic paintings of women by famous male artists who are represented in Manchester Art Gallery’s collections, including Lord Frederic Leighton and John William Waterhouse.
The artists interrogate how the pictorial conventions of historic paintings and their elaborate frames affect our perceptions of the women depicted. By blurring, transgressing and stretching the frames and edges of images, the artists disrupt the relationship between the picture and its surrounding. These interventions raise questions about how the women have been represented and create dialogues between the past and the present."
Maisie uses Digital photography to reference historical paintings and distorts the frames hoping to raise questions about how the women have been represented and create dialogues between the past and the present. The use of these misshapen frames certainly makes the exhibition unique, but begs the question, 'Is this just a gimmick?' This obviously is up to the viewer to interpret for themselves.
In some cases the melting effect of the frame works well and helps the intended interpretation but in others I feel the photograph stands well enough on its own and the frame can distract from this. I liked the pictures best that show a modern interpretation of the historic paintings; others looked very similar to the original era depicted.
However, nowadays, with the difficulty of being accepted by galleries, if one takes a more cynical view, and considered this unusual way of framing to be more of a contrivance to catch the attention of galleries, I wondered if more artists would re visit their own framing techniques!
Caroline uses, "beadwork and found objects to make enigmatic three-dimensional objects which investigate physical and psychological aspects of the paintings."
It was harder to see how some of these related to the historic paintings although the beaded portrait was impressive and must have taken a great deal of time.
I thought that it would be interesting to see this style as an original portrait rather than a copy of an existing piece.
The photographs were impressive and I could have easily believed that they were painted by the Pre Raphaelites. The 3D work was interesting and worth seeing, as is much of the work in the gallery.
Another worthwhile and thought provoking visit.