Painted landscapes in Lhasa, Tibet
Like Noma on a foodie’s wish list, Tibet is pretty much on every wanderer’s bucket list. For Skii, it wasn’t when or why, but how. The answer presented itself through her painting teacher (Cultural Medallion recipient Ong Kim Seng), who plans one overseas painting trip each year. In 2017, it was Tibet. (For three years prior, Skii had devoted one day of each weekend to learn the art of painting from Ong.) Here, finally, was this in-house counsel’s opportunity not just to go to Tibet but to also paint landscapes and villages as part of a painting entourage.
“I decided to take up the challenge of going to a high-altitude region to paint because aside from the scenic surroundings, it was steep in culture and I wanted to venture to different surroundings to gain more perspective,” Skii elaborates.
She managed 10 paintings while traversing the monasteries, hilly regions and the vast Lulang Forest. “We even got to set foot in the Potala Palace, previously home to the Dalai Lamas,” she says. Skii’s biggest takeaway? Her encounters with the monks and villagers.
“Though we could not converse with them, we felt their warmth through their gestures and smiles. One thing that struck me was how content they were. The calmness exuded by the people we interacted with definitely made me question what ‘progress’ does to people’s inner psyches,” she muses.
Travel tips: “The altitude can be challenging; we had to acclimatise and choose painting spots that were accessible. The average age of the painting group was 50-60 years and special care had to be taken to ensure that there were enough oxygen canisters and extra buses had to be chartered in case of an emergency repatriation.”
Philosophically, Skii offers this: “Taking a break from (our city life) helps. Only when you are able to somewhat distance yourself from the hustle and bustle, and find an inner oasis in your mind will you be able to gain contentment and a deeper sense of what happiness means.”
Tibetan travel packages can easily be found online. Unfortunately, painting master Ong isn’t planning any more Tibetan trips.