What’s a Few Earthquakes and a Coup d’etat?

May 27, 2014 § 2 Comments

Mike.Schultz.Family.travel.1

A tuk tuk near the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

Thank you to everyone who reached out to me this past week after the Thai military ousted the government in a surprise coup d’etat. For now, all television and radio stations are down (excepting military run channels), there is a nighttime curfew from 10pm-5am, and small street scuffles continue in Bangkok. We shall see what unfolds, but whatever happens next, I hope it is what is best for Thailand.

The lush gardens at the Jim Thompson House. He was Thailand’s silk baron who mysteriously disappeared into the Malaysian jungle in1967.

The lush gardens at the Jim Thompson House. He was Thailand’s silk baron who mysteriously disappeared into the Malaysian jungle in 1967.

Family Visit + Chiang Mai

Prints – It’s been a busy few weeks! Recently, I moved to Chiang Mai, the second largest city in Thailand, to hunker down and focus on the final print designs for the Flora Fauna project. The work is going really well, and I am currently figuring my way through a particularly tricky drawing depicting the Asian Elephant. Once it is resolved, I’ll be sure to share that image with you!

Family – My parents came for a visit and we had a great time touring the country together. It was an important trip so that they will have an understanding of where I have been. Someday we’ll laugh about when they forgot their passports in Mae Sot, and we only realized it on a bus stopped at a military checkpoint leaving town. It is possible they did this just for a little excitement.

Flora – During our travels, we got to see an array of fascinating plants and animals. As usual, I took a lot of photographs- some of which have already proven to be important visual aides for the remaining print designs. 

My parents in Yaowarat, Bangkok’s Chinatown.

My parents in Yaowarat, Bangkok’s Chinatown.

The countryside outside of Chiang Mai.

The countryside outside of Chiang Mai.

What Comes Next 

In one week I’m headed to Bangkok to fly out to Portland, OR. I cannot believe how fast my time here has gone! So far, this has been a fulfilling and fruitful experience, and I am excited about the next stage of the project.

Back in Portland, I’ll be finishing up the final designs, and preparing the images for the next step. I’ve already been in talks with some dynamic, professional printmakers about the best way to see this project to completion.

THANK YOU again for your continued support with my project! Here are a few photographs from recent travels with my family.

Early flora fauna painting in the extensive murals at Wat Phra Kaew, the temple located at the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

Early flora fauna painting in the extensive murals at Wat Phra Kaew, the temple located at the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

Bananas and flowers in Mae Sa National park, outside of Chiang Mai.

Bananas and flowers in Mae Sa National park, outside of Chiang Mai.

Expansive greenhouses at the Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden, outside of Chiang Mai.

Expansive greenhouses at the Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden, outside of Chiang Mai.

Palms and wires at near Wat Phra Singh in Chiang Mai.

Palms and wires at near Wat Phra Singh in Chiang Mai.

Farmland outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Farmland outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The massive Golden Buddha at Wat Traimit.

The massive Golden Buddha at Wat Traimit.

The Golden Buddha at Wat Traimit (aka The Temple of the Golden Buddha) in Bangkok, is said to be the largest solid gold statue in the world (3.9 meters tall, and weighs 5.5 tons). It boasts a fascinating history, and was believed to have been made during the 13-14 century in Sukhothai, the ancient capital of Siam.

At some point before the Burmese armies invaded and destroyed the Kingdom of Ayutthaya in 1767*, the golden Buddha was covered in a thick layer of plaster and mosaic glass and therefore hidden in plain sight from the invading army. Thought to be a large statue of little value, it was left untouched in the ruins of Ayutthaya and remained lost for nearly 200 years until it was being moved to a new temple in Bangkok in 1954. While it was being moved the deceptively heavy statue broke the ropes that were being used to hoist it, revealing its true nature underneath the plaster.  

*An interesting side note that I learned is that much of northern Thailand, including the city of Chiang Mai, once belonged to Burma. Also, during the invading Burmese army’s retreat in 1767 they marched through the previous incarnation Mae Sot, now located on the Thai-Burma border. The question remains: did they stop at Canadian Dave’s restaurant?

Also, I was told by a Thai friend that ancient Thailand used to boast an abundance of gold, much of which was looted by the invading Burmese Army. The gold cache was then taken back to Burma only to be liberated by the Colonial British while Burma was part of the British Raj or British India.

This photo of the backside of The Golden Buddha illustrates the amazing seams where the nine interlocking pieces that make the Buddha perfectly join together.

This photo of the backside of the Golden Buddha illustrates the seams where the nine perfectly interlocking pieces that make the statue fit together.

Flowers in Mae Sa National park, outside of Chiang Mai.

Flowers in Mae Sa National park, outside of Chiang Mai.

During a brief, final workshop student SKP drew a cute “lady lion”. The assignment was to focus on mammals in movement, and I loved this drawing in particular.

During a brief, final workshop student SKP drew a cute “lady lion”. The assignment was to focus on mammals in movement, and I loved this drawing in particular.

Thailand is known for many things, but not necessarily for the removal of outdated wires. They’re like the vines of the urban jungle, right?

Thailand is known for many things, but not for the removal of defunct wires.

My eyes prefer flowering trees in Mae Sa National Forest to the wires in the city.

Flowering trees in Mae Sa National Forest.

Student PD working on his piece during a teacher training workshop at Mae Sot's Kick-Start ART program.

Student PD working on his piece during a flora fauna workshop at Kick-Start ART.

One of the groups I taught drawing workshops with in Mae Sot is Kick-Start ART. I was  happy to see they are closing in on their recent fundraising endeavors. The people who run Kick-Start ART are incredible, enthusiastic, and motivated group. They did everything they could to make my involvement as a volunteer teacher a positive experience.

Check out their fantastic video to get a glimpse of what they provide and the situation that many of the migrant Burmese students are coming from. The teachers in the video were some of my favorite students, and were such a joy to work with!

A rare glimpse of parents in the wild.

A rare glimpse of parents in the wild.

Thank you for your support!

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§ 2 Responses to What’s a Few Earthquakes and a Coup d’etat?

  • jackbaumgartner says:

    Its good to see your family, Mikey, if only in photos. That Buddha is one massive maltese falcon. Thank you for all of the updates. I appreciate being able to see what you are seeing. Safe travels home, my friend.

    • Mike Schultz Paintings says:

      Thank you for the comment, my friend. That Buddha really is incredible. It’s huge too, when you stand in front of it. And to imagine the genius of how it was hidden in plain sight, and the solemn and silent oaths that kept it so- it’s fascinating. Or it is possible that every monk who knew of its whereabouts was killed / or relocated by the invading army? Because then once the Burmese army went back to Burma, why did the statue then remain in hiding for centuries to come? We’ll never know.

      One detail I did not include is that there was a “key” that was also found in the plaster sheathing hiding the Buddha, which is used to assemble and disconnect all of the pieces. I thought that you in particular would enjoy seeing the seams on the backside. I quite like seeing the parts with nicks and scuffs, where it is a bit unpolished. It’s a little more human.

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