Being a tourist

Even though my living in Hong Kong is essentially one big holiday, last week I managed to take a holiday within my holiday and I went to Taipei.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

While I was there I lazed around, did some shopping, eat a lot of food, drank a lot of beer, went to a lot of touristy sights, and very occasionally actually put pen to paper, as is my job. Here is a mismatched collection of things I looked at and drew while I was there, bearing in mind that instead of drawing at many of the most beautiful and interesting sights eating, drinking and being lazy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Taipei is a very different city to Hong Kong. It is has streets and houses like a proper city, whereas than Hong Kong has skyscapers with six-lane motorway flyovers snaking between them. It was quite weird to see the sky everywhere. The one thing Taipei lacks though, is pavements, because everyone there owns a scooter and the pavements have all been relegated to the role of scooter parking areas, or mini-scooter only roads.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe other thing that Taipei has in glorious abundance is temples. The population are a lot more Buddhist than Hong Kong, so not only are there more temples, and more brightly coloured temples, but there are more people in the temples. This is the temple in Shilin night market- which was open late, so we sat on the steps to eat dinner and looked around inside like the tourists we are.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAObviously the other thing that Taipei has, because it is a lovely lovely place, is tourists. Huge numbers of tourists. These are the most fun to draw, more fun than the touristy sights which they swarm around.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANumber one tourist attraction that we went to was a town called Jioufan. It’s up in the mountains outside Taipei, and feels like it’s stacked up on the side of the slope. It has a strangely old-world sort of feel, even though almost all the buildings are kitsch little 1960’s and 70’s designs. It is also, according to Cat, the town that Studio Ghibli’s film Spirited Away is based on.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs well as the tourists, the locals are a lot of fun to draw as well. One thing I noticed there was that most of the younger people are dressed like cool hipsters, but the old people are dressed like young people before young people dressed as hipsters- if that makes any sense. Mutton dressed as lamb, as Cat puts it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut that is my favourite thing to draw! This lady was my favourite favourite. And even without the silly glasses and make-up, old people there are still a joy to draw. We went to some thermal baths in the North of the city and splashed around with a lot of elderly Taiwanese gentlemen who could all withstand incredible temperatures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe also wondered around a lot of markets, lots and lots of markets, so many markets, that I now have no money left. But I made this one drawing in the flower market, or a lady selling orchids, or perhaps she’s hiding in the orchids? Who knows. I liked it so much that she has formed the genesis of a story I’m writing and illustrating for a magazine, which will come out at some point in the future. Watch this space! I will put up some developmental drawings after the weekend.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThat’s the end of all my tourist activities! Suffice to say I’m now back to my usual holiday mode in Hong Kong. On that front, I’m working on this secret-orchid-lady story and also making more and more watercolours. I leave you with this final offering, and there will be more to show soon!

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Filed under Hong Kong, Illustration, Painting, Sketchbook

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