A few crafty and design photos from Malaysia, a thank you and a couple of book reviews today.
Malaysia, Melaka and the Silk Route
We went to Melaka in Malaysia over Christmas. Partly because we had itchy travel feet and also because Melaka sounded really interesting. During the 14th and 15th century it was part of the maritime silk route. Everyone knows about the overland Silk Road but Melaka was the meeting spot for many trading ships from China, India, South-East Asia and the Arabian Penisula. Visiting a couple of the many museums in Melaka, it sounded to me like almost everything was traded there!
My personal interest is of course craft, textiles and designs so here are a few photos from Melaka on those themes.
I remember doing batik at primary school but nothing like this! We went to the Batik House which is a centre for keeping the traditional craft alive. They have an enormous shop and underneath a huge workspace to teach the art. I enjoyed watching the artist's smooth sweeping strokes as he poured the wax outline on and then filled it with ink.
There was a hole in the wall kind of shop just down from our hotel. One day it was packed with Christmas decorations, the next day they had completely replaced it with Chinese new year: lanterns and red paper cut outs.
Melaka has a river running up through the side of it where at one point (before it silted up) 2000 trading ships would come to rest. Now it is much smaller and lined with houses and gorgeous tiled bridges. Melaka's bridges, buildings and steps are dotted with many lovely almost art noveaux tiles like this one.
And the last thing I was expecting to find was a craft shop that would have fitted perfectly into my Australian country town! It was a truly lovely handmade craft store full of divine bags, purses, patterns, dolls and fabric. They also ran classes. It is called Heart Handy, just off Jonker St in China Town. I spoke with the proprietor who said that she and her friends found a lot of their inspiration in magazines and showed me a bookcase full of them!
Two short book reviews keeping with the theme of writing and traveling for you this week. These are both books I have read in the last few months in preparation for going to Malaysia and of course, for my work as an author.
APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch.
You wouldn't believe how many times I've had people tell me they want to write a book. It usually happens after I quietly mention that I write books! So for anyone interested in what you need to do to actually get those words down, then edit them, then either self-publish or find a mainstream publisher this book is pretty much the best I've ever read on the topic. (And I have read a few.) It covers the whole life cycle, you could say of an author's work and is an invaluable resource.
The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw
I read this novel in preparation for going to Melaka. I couldn't put it down, it was perhaps not so strangely really compelling reading. I think this was for two reasons. I haven't really read that much about Malaysia so it was a fairly new story and history for me. And I really enjoyed the plot device Tash Aw used. It is a plot device I would aspire to one day after I have had a lot more writing experience I suspect! The story is told in three parts by three different people. It is each person's view of what happened and what the main character, Johnny is like. I found it thought provoking and insightful.