Sketches of South East Asia – Part One


It’s nice to be part this global network of people who are linked only by their fleeting time together during what feels like a whole life lived in experience ‘pon da road’.  A tribe of wandering spirits who cross paths with each other briefly, before promising to visit each other’s respective countries, or to plan a trip together in the future.  All sincerely meant but rarely achieved.

On more than one occasion I met stupendous people who went on to connect with other tremendous people that I’d met previously.  Social media is a great way to witness this take place.  The world is truly shrinking.


A scorched temple in the old capital of Ayutthaya, burned during a war with the Burmese.

I met so many people who had quit their jobs and were flinging themselves out into the great blue yonder.  This is was an everyday occurrence and a great source of comradery. So being around these vagabond traveling types for so long it takes a little bit of brain power to gain some perspective on what it is I’m doing.  Is this not normal?

There’s also a lot that has happened to me in the past year and I’ve drafted and redrafted this post to start as I mean to go on…succinct and to the point.  Although I feel that’s like trying to ask a fish to climb a tree.

Anyway. I digress.  Of course.


I left England on July 5th 2016. I wanted to leave on independence day,  it would have had a nice poetry to it but anyway,  it was my independence day.

It was Stupid O’Clock on a typical English morning in July – nail bitingly cold.  I said my last goodbyes and catch a coach to London, Victoria Station.  It was quite an incredible feeling, if you like feeling sick and aggressively nervous.


The modern day equivalent of a spotted handkerchief tied to a stick.

I get to the airport and there’s some vague issue with the fact that I only have a one-way flight to Bangkok and no forward travel plans.  I tried to explain that I didn’t know where I was going  but I did have a visa for Australia that needed to be used before June 2017, 11 months away. So, there was that.

This seemed to appease them and I was let on the plane.

I remember crying, hard, when boarding and for about 30 minutes during the first flight from London to Dubai.  I couldn’t talk to anyone I knew and I was totally alone.  Utterly. Alone.

After a two bloody long flights, including a stop off in Dubai airport that felt more like a smoke-room dream, I landed in Bangkok.


From the top of a sky bar in Bangkok.  As poor and lowly travelers this was an extremely scandalous thing to do but we put on our best elephant pants and enjoyed the view.

Arrival – Bangkok

It was hot as hell and I had no idea what to do.  I’d read books, blogs, forums but when presented with the reality of navigating myself around a world labelled with writing that appears to be made of flowers, I found myself at a loss.

So I jumped in a taxi and said, ‘Khao San Road’.  The only concrete thing I had for the rest of my life was a 3 night booking in a hostel in that area.  Hoping that he was actually taking me there I blearily took my place on the back seat, clutching my money and passport, ready to bail at the first sign of trouble.

I do remember there being some kind of kerfuffle with him because he tried to overcharge. (Thus emerged a pattern of bad luck I would always have with people picking me up from airports)


Khao San Road.  Chaos from dawn til dusk.

Writing this now is bringing back to me the overwhelming sensual experience that is Bangkok.  Honestly, it’s profound.  The smell is the first thing that hits you, directly followed by the pulsating heat and then the ocular chaos of frenzied activity in every corner of your vision.

It’s magnificent and I miss it.

I stayed in the crummiest little hostel called the Sawasdee Bunglumpoo Inn, but in my naivety I thought that this is what I was to expect.  My overarching memory of it was that it was blue.  Blue walls, blue tables, blue bed.  Blue.

Everything was grimy and the free breakfast left a lot to be desired.  The eggs made me feel bad for the chicken.


The Sawasdee Bunglumpoo Inn.  There were about 5 things withing a one mile radius called Bunglumpoo and another 5 called Sawasdee which meant finding the damn place was just a treat.

To access it you had to walk down a dark sticky alley plastered in malnourished kittens and gilded spirit houses, dusted by decades of burnt incense.  A very kind Thai man showed me where the hostel was.  Graciously, he told me to wait with my bag while he found the correct alleyway.  He left me with a smile and a feeling of hope that I wasn’t in fact, on an alien planet.

How much could be said about this week in Bangkok?  I could go into great detail about all the people I met at the hostels and how profound it was especially in those first few days.  I had finally found my tribe.

An inter-changeable web of faces presented me with different stories and ideas and places to go and things to see.  ‘You should totally avoid that, it’s a waste of time, but this place, nobody knows about it, it’s awesome.’  ‘Don’t worry you can find a sim card here and it’s right next to the best Pad Thai place in the city.’

These gems of information become your IV drip whilst you’re traveling.  It means you don’t have to worry about missing out or getting ripped off or staying in a bad hostel because the knowledge is out there.  By way of this information swapping there’s such a sense of family, community and caring that becomes a soothing balm for homesickness.

One of the first things to learn is that you should never pay what they ask for first time.  Haggling is a huge thing there.  There’s an art to it.

Firstly, you walk up to a store, find something you’re interested in, ask for the price, smile and nod, walk away nonchalantly.  They’ll call after you with a massive reduction, take a ‘baht’ off that (sorry, currency joke) and then you’re a true local.


Gemstones in China Town.  There’s a booming jewellery market in Bangkok, all of these are genuine.

I remember learning some key lessons about Thai life from two amazing people.  Sue and John, British ex-pats, retirees, who had spent most of their life working in Bangkok in the silver industry.

They now live in glorious apartments on the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok, shared by members of the royal family.  I was granted the opportunity to visit them, taken for Dim Sum and then to China Town by the firey Sue.  She would strike for bargins on muted fabric that she’d have made into tailored dresses and two-piece outfits.  Our other shopping target was a suitable wig for one of her friends.

They had spent two years in the early 90’s cycling around the globe.  Literally.

They encouraged me to see the beauty of Bangkok, their home. Truly incredible people.


Luxury living.  It was fantastic to have the chance to see another side of Bangkok.

My first week was like being reborn.  I had to learn how to get around, how to use money, what to eat and what not to eat.  I spent a lot of time just wandering around, flabbergasted by how different life can be, realising how much of the world there is in the world and surrendering to how little I know of it.

But, where are the sketches?

I will sum up this first post by explaining the title.

I would like to invite you on a visual journey through Thailand and Vietnam.  This will be focused around my sketches supplemented with photographs.  I didn’t open my sketch book and paint palette until Koh Lanta, my next stop on the journey, hence no sketches in this post.

Other creatives will understand that sometimes you have to wander through the desert of denial, self doubt and lackluster inspiration before entering into full production mode.  I had done my time.  Years.  I was finally ready.


Panorama of Bangkok from the Golden Mount.

One last thing.

If you’re ever wondering whether to just leave it all and head off into the world, I know how you feel.  I agonised over it for years.

Yes, it’s scary, but the one thing I learned from all of this is that cliches are always right, and nothing worth having isn’t scary or worth fighting for.

So do it.  By God.  Do it.



Everything Happens for a Reason

Miscellaneous Ramblings

Within a few weeks of leaving England in July 2016 I had already come to terms with myself.  Or at least, I’d come to terms with the fact that I hadn’t, up until that point, attempted to come to terms with myself.  I realized that through all my years quibbling about what I was going to do with my life, I’d actually known all along what I was here for.

I’m an artist.

I was born an artist and although I’ve struggled to find the confidence in the past to really get to grips with this, I finally realized.  It is my path. And all it took was to board a plane to Bangkok on my own, alone, psychologically wobbly and with nothing to lose.  I was petrified, but jumping into the darkness of the unknown is a surefire way to clarify any immediate problems you may have.  Not that this method will solve them, it’ll just help you take a good look at what you’re capable of and what you should do with all your new found wonderfulness.

So, after continued exposure to totally stupendous people from all over the world, I finally found a new resonance for who I was.  It’s like, looking in the same mirror your entire life, a nice mirror, well lit, gilded frame, but possibly a little cracked from overuse so the reflection is familiar but not entirely accurate.  All of a sudden I met a hundred new mirrors, all different colours and shapes but all built the same way, with a longing to reflect as much as they could of the world and open their internal horizons.


Freya, Jason, Josh and I – Probably one of the happiest moments of my life

Anyway, metaphors aside for now, after accepting what I wanted, I was taken on a journey of affirmation.  By letting go completely of control, plans, worries and fears, I managed to traverse my way through life in South East Asia, which was beginning to feel more and more like a fantasy novel wherein the next creature I met would offer me a bag of coins that I could give to the Gyspy lady who would read my palm and after tripping on her scarf I’d fall into the arms of the wise man who would tell me that the treasure was buried under the hill that has a cave that…etc.

I now realise that life is both pushing from behind and pulling from the front, and the less wiggling you do the quicker you end up in the place you were supposed to be.  But sometimes, the wiggling is important too because you end up going sideways, which can lead you to all sorts of interesting places.  Just don’t get stuck there for too long and forget the point.


Driving through the Vietnamese countryside – Quite outstanding

Talking of points, I do have one and if you’re still with me then I shall certainly come to it very soon.

So with all this new found, deep knowledge and faith in the things that will and won’t be, I’m more content than I’ve ever been and when life starts to rub me up the wrong way, I remember, it’s because I’m the one wiggling too much.



The universe forced my hand today and although at first I felt anxious that I had lost out on potential painting time, I then realized there was a reason.  There always is.

I have recently acquired a studio space which I have utilized as much as I can whilst working 35-50 hour week to afford said studio.  And like, you know, food.

I have been very dedicated to my painting which is an intricate mixed media piece in the new style that I’m experimenting with.  It feels almost masochistically detailed sometimes.


‘Sea of Consciouness’ – Work in Progress – 2017

This style came in a flash of inspiration when trying to draw together concepts that I find fascinating and techniques that I adore using.  The initial idea was to acknowledge the conscious realm and the unseen energies that exist around us.  This is not intended to sound arty farty or even, heaven forbid, airy fairy.  I would like to remind you that the very fact that you can read this right now relies on a complex set of wires and wireless technology, floating in the air around you.  Still, very real.

Also, let’s not forget the spectrums of energy we can’t see or hear but we use every time we change the channel on our TV or glide our computer mouse across the table.  Not to mention the fact that I can transmit my thoughts this way. Electricity forms ideas inside my brain, transforms to computational electricity outside of my brain to then reforms itself back into cognitive electricity and then finally (hopefully) understanding in yours.  Amazing.

Now here’s a quote to bolster my ever elusive point.

“I don’t think you could discover consciousness if you didn’t perturb it.  Whoever discovered water it certainly wasn’t a fish, well, we are fish swimming in consciousness and yet we know it’s there.  Well the reason we know it’s there is because if you perturb it then you see it, and you perturb it by perturbing the engine that generates it which is the mind/brain system resting behind your eyebrows.” You can find the two minute audio clip here which is an excerpt of a longer talk.



‘Terence Mckenna’ – 2017 – Mixed Media


I love this concept by Terence Mckenna. I love Terence Mckenna, (which is why I chose him for one of my first experimental pieces, blog to follow on this).  We cannot be outside of consciousness because it’s what we are.  It’s ad infinitum everything that we can ever behold.  It is and therefore we are the universe because everything anyone has ever known about the universe has been seen through the sea of consciousness.  Or the lens of conscious observation.  Not to mention we’re physically made of the stuff of the universe too.  I feel these very basic points are not talked or even thought about on a day to day basis but really do help put things into perspective.

So sometimes we can’t see the wood for the trees but the more we surrender to the idea that by knowing what you truly want and focusing your conscious energy on it, you can paddle your way through life towards it.  And by doing this you change the currents.


WiFi and Enlightment


I couldn’t work tonight on my painting due to circumstances that were out of my control and alongside that I was painting myself towards what I thought was a dead end, but actually, it was perfectly in sync with itself, just not in the way that I had initially imagined.

Firstly, due to not being able to hide in painting anymore I was forced to start considering where the hell I’m going with all of this, because for a while, I was relying on mostly gut instinct with a blurry concept that was pretty flakey.

This was important though.  As an artist, gut instinct is essential.  It’s what makes you put the line down in exactly the right place and at the right time.  But it will only get you so far when you actually want to say something, not just express inner turmoil or something.  (which is still valid)

So I sat down tonight, at the right time, in the right head-space and the volcano of ideas and concepts and readings and podcasts and conversations and experiences and aesthetics, plumed into an almost perfectly formed concept and statement that quite synchronistically-ly does tie into the current piece which I’ve ploughed 30+ hours into so far.  No wonder I couldn’t sleep.

And the reason I’ve spent so long explaining this is because, this is it.  We do create our own universes.  We focus our prospective lens’ on the external world and form it into… something.  There is a balance to be found between the physical realms and the unseen metaphysical realms.  We must try let go of so much physical control and acknowledge our gut.  You’ll know when you’ve found the balance because the co-incidences and alignments make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside (or as Terence puts it – the cosmic giggle).

My work will focus on this fact – that consciousness exists, it’s real somewhere.  We have entire universes inside our minds.  Infinite.  Eternal.  We forgot this at some point and forewent it for our shiny toys, (which ironically, as mentioned before, utilize the invisible realms of energy almost entirely).

So yes, all I have to do now is put these words and thoughts into images that will visually strike and conceptually resonate with as many people as possible in order to bring about some kind of conscious stability in the world and draw in (see what I did there) a new era of world peace and contentment for all personages.