Stock Schlueter shares a day-by-day adventure of traveling with his friend, Paul Rickard, to the remote land of Bhutan to paint en plein air for an entire month.
Excerpt From “Bhutan: A Painter’s Dream”
BY STOCK SCHLUETER
San Francisco, Day 1: 1/8/19
Day one. O dark thirty. We are off to the airport before the great spirit rises in the east. We are properly searched, probed, and pestered. We lift off and break the bond of the sleepy redwood curtain. At last we achieve “Escape Velocity,” the most difficult of tasks while getting ready to travel. I tilt my head back and relax.
In the sleepy darkness I can see a hint of the day to come, a glint of color on the horizon. We have the good fortune of timely layovers giving us time to catch our breath, eat, stretch, write, even do a little watercolor action here at the San Francisco airport. From here we are up over the top of the world to Hong Kong and on to Bangkok in the middle of the night. Watching the planes take off one after the other to all parts of the world makes me feel connected to humans everywhere.
We truly are a global village. Like the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a planet.
Bhutan, Day 2: 1/10/19
OMG. Too much time in an airplane can’t be good for the human body or spirit. It is mind-numbing and a kind of slow pain that could drive one mad. We left San Francisco at about 11:00 a.m. for Hong Kong, and we had enough headwinds to turn a 15 hour flight into 17 hours of incarceration. It is strange because you fly the same direction as the sun, so for sixteen hours it stays late afternoon.
We land in Hong Kong at about 8:00 p.m. Then we hooked up with our flight to Bangkok at 11 something p.m., gain another hour or so of new time zones, skip or gain a day by now I don’t know which, I swear by now I could be my own grandpa. By the time we get our luggage, find a taxi, locate our hotel and check in, it is five in the morning. We wake up at 9:00 a.m. and have to scramble to get to the airport on time to do all our stuff.
I go to the desk to have them call a taxi. They say “you don’t check out until tomorrow.” I felt as if the gods had blessed me and I was the golden child of the universe. I have never been so happy to be wrong. What an incredible gift a day can be. Bangkok is like the pulse of Asia on steroids. I am still kind of overwhelmed and will relate more on it in my next post, I want to give it some thought so I can do it justice. Paul and I sat in front of our hotel and did some watercolor stuff.
Bhutan, Day 3: 1/12/19
India from the air: vast deltas like giant snakes sprawling, twisting and squirming out across the lush earth, wetlands and marshes winding their way through open grasslands and forests. The human footprint gets disguised by distance. Waterways spread out like capillaries gathering into serpentine arteries to the sea.
Stepping away and seeing it all from the sky creates a larger view, without the sordid details of everyday life. I guess we could do the same thing by just standing still, but it helps to get away. My first view of the Himalayas out the window, scratch that one off the bucket list. These sleeping stone giants push their way through the clouds and will not be denied the caress of the sun in an otherwise shrouded world. We fly into a huge canyon, bank left, then right, and left again, and set down into a narrow valley.
And here we are, in Bhutan. The contrast between here and Bangkok couldn’t be more stark. Spent the rest of the day settling in and this morning getting some things organized. I want to say more on leaving Bangkok and getting here in the next post.
Additional Paintings and Photos from “Bhutan: A Painter’s Dream”
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