Two years ago, I started bringing a sketchbook and watercolor pencils with me on the road -- now I can't imagine traveling without them (though I've since upgraded to a travel-sized set of watercolor paints).
There's something about slowing down and letting the sights, sounds and smells of a new place sink in as I sketch it. Or as travel writer Pico Iyer put it in a 2012 conversation with Don George:
I always found that when I didn't take notes, I would return home and I'd really wonder where I'd been or why I'd been, and I would have nothing tangible...I was happy for the notebook, as the camera or the sketchbook -- it doesn't have to be writing. If you give yourself a project somewhere, instantly it becomes a much richer experience and you actually see more of the place even though you imagine you're just looking into your viewfinder or looking at the sketchbook.
Below are twelve sketches from two years of seeing the world through the lens of my sketchbook -- you can also visit my travel blog, The Great Affair, to follow along my upcoming trip, "Sketching Southeast Asia: Six weeks. Seven countries. One adventure with a sketchbook."
The many restaurants lining the Duoro River are the perfect place to watch traditional <em>barcos rabelos</em> boats float by and eat your weight in <em>francesinhas</em>, Porto’s signature sandwich.
This well-known square in Kathmandu is an intriguing mix of Newari-style pagodas and temples dating to the 16th century and the Hanuman Dhoka royal palace.
Over 100 years old, the Tha Ka floating market is one of the less touristy such markets to visit around Bangkok, where a fair share of locals still do their weekend shopping.
This temple is tucked away on the Jimbaran Puri Bali Resort located along Jimbaran Bay – the perfect place for a sundowner and seafood dinner served straight from that morning’s catch.
If you don't mind the early morning wake-up call, head to Mumbai’s Dadar flower market, which is at its busiest between 4-9am and makes for a pretty fascinating cultural experience.
Just six hours east of Marrakech by bus, Dades Valley (also known as the Valley of Roses) is home to the Festival of Roses every May, in celebration of the annual rose harvest.
This mile-long path circuits the hill on which the Dalai Lama’s home and temple complex sits and is lined with fluttering prayer flags and hand-carved <em>mani</em> stones.
The Royal Botanic Gardens just outside Kandy feature a spice garden, Japanese garden, orchid house, and, as pictured, a bamboo garden full of towering giant bamboo.
The local staff at a bird sanctuary on the island of Nusa Penida (about ten miles southeast of Bali) also happen to be talented musicians – join in on their daily jam sessions.
Portuguese settlers left behind more than Vasco de Gama’s grave in this old colonial fort city in southern India – their architecture is still equally as impressive.
Catch a ferry from Zadar to Dugi Otok, which translates as “Long Island” – a fitting name given it’s the biggest island in the Zadar Archipelago and seventh largest in the Adriatic Sea.
This small five-island archipelago is a world away from the crowded beaches you’ll find elsewhere in Thailand – think crystal blue coves and superb snorkeling spots.
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