During the month of December my husband, Warren, and I took an extended journey overseas. Southeast Asia had been on our “Bucket List” for a long time, and luckily, we work with an amazing travel agent who is an expert on travel in that region.
I like to travel in small group tours and I love to meet local people. I also loved the idea of going to Indonesia where the17,000 islands (at high tide) are awash in the culture of batik art. Myanmar had finally lifted travel restrictions and there are lots of available river cruises, train journeys and larger cruises from companies like National Geographic Expeditions. We searched through all the possibilities and came across a ten-day cruise on a small ship from Azamara Club Cruises, which left from Singapore, cruised among the islands of Indonesia and finished in Bali. Once we selected that cruise, we dovetailed the visit to Myanmar around it.
One of our other criteria was that we wanted to fly a foreign carrier in business class. This ended up being Korean Air, so we booked to fly from San Francisco to Myanmar via Seoul, Korea. There would be a layover in Seoul between planes, so we thought we might as well take the opportunity to stop and explore Seoul for two nights before flying south for another six hours. We then spent five nights at two different locations in Myanmar before flying eastward to Singapore to join the ship. The opportunity to explore Singapore while we were there was too good to pass up, so we spent three nights there. After the cruise we spent a little more time in Bali, then traveled to Jakarta so I could visit the National Textile Museum and see batik exhibitions and galleries before flying back to San Francisco.
Indonesia is filled with color which really spoke to my artist’s heart. The traditional clothing of all of the countries I visited was very bright and colorful. They were all bright blues, pinks, reds, oranges, violets and yellows. The colors, the scenery and the people were brilliant. The amount of gold used in sacred buildings in Myanmar and in Indonesia was stunning. I took tons of photographs of people, especially the typical Balinese dancers. I soaked the colors up like a sponge and dreamed at night in bright colors.
I loved learning about the native styles of clothing and fabric and seeing all of the creative batiks!
Historically, the Burmese native people of Myanmar had over 35 different tribes who all wore different styles of colorful clothing. It was amazing to see them all represented in the National Museum in Yangon (formerly Rangoon). There are so many different ethnic groups in Indonesia and they all dress differently. The people from the island of Lombok as well as some of the tribes from Myanmar and Bali wove their clothing by hand on floor looms using a technique known as Ikat. Batiks from the Island of Java or Malaysia for that matter are all differently styled than those from Bali. There are factories in Bali that also function as boutiques for batik.
I was so shocked to see all of these designer brands of batik while shopping in Jakarta and at the airport!
The images and colors from my trip have inspired me to start planning some new paintings. Two are already in the early stages and I hope to start them in the next week. It has been a lot of work cataloging the pictures I took of this beautiful part of the world, but the task has kept my creative juices flowing. One of these new paintings features dancers, and another features flowers adrift.
As always, my journeys move the artist in me towards new, creative work. I know that the colors of Indonesia will never leave me and will continue to motivate me to new and brighter things.