Connections and Bridges over a Bangkok Canal

Candace Rose Rardon is an American writer, photographer and artist who recently returned to the United States after ten months living and traveling in Asia. She sketches as she travels, and these sketches, combined with the stories behind them, charmingly capture those fleeting, layered moments that are the stepping stones of travel. Wanderlust will be presenting her on-the-road sketches-and-stories -- her sketchbook of serendipities -- in the months to come.

They find me nearly as soon as I start sketching above Bangkok’s Sansab Canal – two bright-eyed local children, possibly the cutest kids I could ever hope to meet in this buzzing city of nine million people.

Their names are Masalee and Asamawee, and it isn’t long before we’re all drawing on the bridge together, our pages filling up with scenes of life along the water. For a moment, I forget about my own sketch as I marvel at how deftly they wield first a pen, and then a paintbrush.

If I didn’t believe it after meeting a young boy named Nam in Laos and sketching with him on a Vientiane sidewalk, I believe it now: Art truly is innate in all of us.

It’s my last weekend in the city, and my last weekend before this sketching trip comes to its inevitable end, but this isn’t my first time at the canal. Some three and a half years earlier, I’d visited it on my first trip to Thailand, the same boats plying the narrow channel of water while the same ice cream sellers passed on the sidewalk below, their bells jingling in the air.

Upon returning to the canal today, this time to sketch it, I had expected to feel a sense of connection with this place, having stood here once before. But the connection that moves me the most this Saturday afternoon isn’t with the place itself, but with these two kids I’ve been fortunate enough to meet – who leave their sketch on a chair at the bottom of the bridge.

Because that’s what this time has been as well: a bridge between home and away, a passage that is both beginning and end.

I take their painting with me when I leave some time after them – as a reminder of our serendipitous sketching session, and as a token of my gratitude that something as simple as a sketch could open the door to our encounter.

Here in Southeast Asia, as on every journey, it is the people who have made each place.

 

 


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Don George, Editor

Don George is Editor in Chief of Wanderlust: Literary Journeys for the Discerning Traveler. He has been Travel Editor for the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle and Salon.com, and Global Travel Editor for Lonely Planet Publications. Don has published eight books, including Travel Writing, A Moveable Feast, The Kindness of Strangers, and Tales from Nowhere. E-mail him at [email protected]

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