In Siem Reap in Cambodia (the city’s name means Defeat of Thailand – no punches pulled there) we sat in the park with the flying foxes roosting in the trees. Groups of tourists were brought to see them and as the guide spoke , enterprising icecream sales people swooped to feed the stationary tourists.
A few days earlier in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam we sat in another park. A group of children sat to my left painting, Tai Chi sessions were everywhere and one man even washed himself,( sorry, I wasnt quick enough with my camera as he shoved the hose pipe down his shorts to clean the nether regions) then cleaned his bike, changed his clothes and after donning a new hat – he wore a grubby old hat whilst cleaning his bike, – rode off into the traffic.
We left the enchanting town of Luang Prabang on the banks of the Mekong and travelled into the hills on some very dodgy roads to Vang Vieng on the Nam Song River which looks quote impressive with boats going to and fro along it. Then you see people wading across it , sometimes barely knee deep. The town looks down at heel compared to Luang Probang, but I managed to hire a bike and explored the surrounding countryside. This is the dry season and those who cant afford irrigation pumps leave the paddy fields for pasture for their cows. The fields have raised sheltered decks dotted about.
This small roadside farm could have been anywhere in the world, except that the fencing was made of bamboo. I was cycling back to Vang Vieng and had an hour to spare so why not paint it. I like the almost meditative aspect of sitting down painting, pausing a while, and studying the view in front of me. Even if you come out with nothing the time spent in contemplation is worth it.
The second day of navigating the upper reaches of the Mekong. I did these first two in the misty morning.
The afternoon sketches were much brighter when I looked at them – It seemed I was affected by the intense light.
We arrived at Luang Prabang which was once the capital of Laos. Today it is a laid back town on the confluence of two rivers mixing eastern and French styles. A welcome break after some of the frenetic cities we have visited.