Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year

The year is over? I almost forgot its another end of the year. I've been so busy trying to upload some books to Kindle. Don't you love Youtube University, you can learn a lot from these young people. I'm amazed at what they know and I'm trying to learn from them. One thing about ebooks especially Kindle books is they should be short and sweet and to be the point. We're not writing our opus so why does it take so long. True, true, I'll get it. I'll take tomorrow off to cook and then its back to the books! Happy New Year. Here am I years and years ago, maybe more than ten, in Carcassone, France.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Kindle, buy with i-click

My first book is now on Amazon's Kindle. Buy with i-click and for $2.99 you can download it to read it. OMG, after 9 years of writing, the times are finally ripe, no need for book proposals, no agents, with just a pc and a program to format the manuscript and I'm being published. This is so awesome. I have 4 other manuscripts being formatted as I write with many more to come. I even designed the cover. How great is that?

Matera, Italy

It's official, just booked my flight to Rome leaving Feb 1 and then heading down South to Matera. I have a reservation to see 'the crypt of original sin' on Feb 4th. I'm excited.

Kindle publishing

I have a mac and a new pc. The Kindle publishing software only works with the pc. I have five manuscripts waiting to be formatted and uploaded into Kindle. I completed the uploading of one a few minutes ago. Kindle says it will take 12 to 48 hours before it'll appear on Kindle. This is so exciting. I've been too excited to sleep lately. Got to get back to work to upload the rest of the manuscripts.... what a year it has been, full of new and strange things. I hope I'll be able to share what happened to me lately. It's too painful to share right now.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Matera, Italy

Picture of Matera taken in 1951 by the French photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson. This picture, at a recent Christie's auction has the price tag of 20,000 euros on it. Matera was poor and miserable but his photos of it raised the impression of Matera that a group of locals decided to search and document all the cave churches in the area. They discovered at least 147 and most of them still has frescoes in them. Their most important find is the 'cave of hundred saints' or the 'crypt of the original sin. A lot of the frescoes were fast disappearing because of climatic conditions and a group of Germans were suspected of stripping the walls of the frescoes, it became a case for Interpol. Now Matera is protected under a UN charter being a Unesco World Heritage site. Now everyone wants to return to live in Matera when once they couldn't wait to leave. I was in Matera in 2007 after watching the movie 'the Passion of the Christ' which was filmed on location here. I'm returning on February 1st and I have a reservation to see the crypt of the original sin on February 4th.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

This is not my picture but I got it from Seventeen doors at Thanks.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Kindle publishing

I just now signed up to be published on Kindle. I now have my own account. How great is that. Now all that is needed is to format all the manuscripts I have already made ready onto the Kindle format. These are exciting times.

Merry Christmas

Have a very merry Christmas.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Monreale, Palermo

I made this sketch in 2007 while on a trip to Sicily. This is the exterior of the cloisters of Monreale cathedral. They closed for lunch, we had already eaten and am waiting for the church to reopen. I made a quick drawing. Three things I learned about goes on! This year is almost over. In spite of whatever is happening in my life, its been a great year.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Morocco, a sensual journey

The manuscript is ready, need to type it out on word then convert into KDP and it'll be ready. Phew, what work!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Kasbah Ait ben Haddou, Ouarzazate, Morocco

Kasbah like this dot the Moroccan countryside. They are made from rammed earth, the same earth where they are situated, consisting of clusters of houses built closely together and surrounded by high walls. Inside is a self contained village with water supply and whatever is needed for daily life. This is the famous Ait Ben Haddou just a few miles outside Ouarzazate and is a Unesco World Heritage site, fully restored.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Berbers of Morocco

I'm doing research on Morocco for my book. Fascinating history that I found on Youtube. The Berbers ruled the Maghreb long before the Arabs. They were the Moors who conquered Southern Spain. One time they had two capitals, Marrakech and Seville. Now they are relegated  to the fringes of society. Their language and cultured is being wiped out and they are being arabized. Berber means 'wild' or 'from the forest.' They prefer to call themselves 'Amazigh' which means 'free' or in Taureg  'noble'. Now they've become tourist attractions, both them and their culture. I remember running after them to take their pictures. Now I feel very ashamed.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Rabat, Morocco

Today I'm starting my ebook on Morocco.

Thursday, December 04, 2014


 I've become an author, an illustrator and a publisher. I've become my own startup! I'm making my own zines, with just paper, ink, water colors, a copier and a long reach stapler and you're in business. Its a lot of work and also a lot of fun.
Don't log in yet. I hope by January 1, 2015 it will be online. I've owned my own name for 8 years. Each time I call to renew the registration, I'm always asked what I do. Nothing yet but its coming soon.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Working on a few zines

There's a lot of avenues for the selling and trading of zines even in Los Angeles. I just found this out and I'm hard at work making more. It's a lot of fun.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Zine fest Los Angeles, Feb 15, 2015

What's a 'zine"? It is a handmade book. With just paper, a long reach stapler, some color and pen, we can write anything to make a zine. Some are comics, it could be anything. They are usually sold on websites and at fairs. There is going to be one on February 2015 which I'm going to participate in. I'm hard at work now truing to finish at least 5 for the show and for sale. I'm really excited.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Pope Francis is visiting the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul right now.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy thanksgiving

I saw this cute picture and just had to swipe it. Contrary to popular belief that French bread is the best, I choose to disagree. Sicilian bread is the best because of the durum wheat flour grown only in Sicily. I remember being in Catania and saw the bread makers putting freshly baked bread in the late afternoon and you know that the bread at dinner just came out of the oven. In any restaurant you'll find a selection of bread. I miss Sicily. Anyway have a wonderful thanksgiving tomorrow.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Israel, a travel journal

In Israel, on the trail of the wild anemones, the journey

continues. I'm finishing the illustrations, the writing is done.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Petersham nurseries, England

The trip to Petersham nurseries in Richmond, England was in 2011 but it looked like so long ago. I looked so young then but it was only 3 years ago. Time flies and this year is almost over.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Matera, Italy

 I was here in 2006, imagine almost 10 years ago, after the release of the movie, 'the Passion of the Christ' which was filmed on location here. After seeing the movie, I just had to come here and visit. We stayed in a cave hotel, a very beautiful place. We wandered up and down the Sassi and was so enthralled by it. The thing we didn't get to do was visit the Ruprestrian churches, numerous rock cut churches with beautiful frescoes.
Recently a German friend reminded me of the numerous frescoed churches in Matera. I think its time to return to Matera.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Israel, my next project

I've already started my next project, a zine on my trip to Israel. My new work schedule has allowed me to do a lot more work on my private projects. Its a lot of work, I have a full time job and I have my zine projects and am thinking up more to do.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Essaouira, Morocco

A restaurant without a menu, how great is that? Well, here we were a few years ago at just that restaurant in Essaouira, Morocco, a nondescript fishing village with more atmosphere than monuments. We took the local bus from Marrakesh, the grand taxis and the tours were just too expensive. The bus costs us a couple pf Dirhams but it took forever. We finally reached it, walked around a little bit and sat down for lunch. The only food available were platefuls of fried fish. You can order as many plates as you want and just eat with your fingers, dipped the fish in a chili sauce. It was the greatest experience. You don't even need to clean up, just wipe the bones down to the floor, the stray cats will help you clean up. We saw some fishermen come in with more fish. So you know these fish just came from the sea outside.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

The tannery, Fez, Morocco

The souk or market in Fez, Morocco is about the oldest in continual use in the world. Nothing has changed, its still a maze of narrow lanes, only large enough for a donkey to pass through. That's how stuff are hauled in and out of it, by donkeys. Once in a while one has to make way for the donkeys to pass. The place is crowded and I became claustrophobic, I had to run out of it. That was a few years ago but its a memory I shouldn't soon forget. In it is also the age old tannery, dirty and smelly. One climbs up a viewing area to see the action where cow hides are being processed in vats containing  chemicals, pigeon shit and animal urine. The stench was so nauseating. Mint leaves are handed out to mitigate the foul smell. Its a wonder to see, a one of its kind still at work in todays' modern age.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

A sky burial in Tibet

Here I was a few years ago in a Tibetan part of China, witnessing a sky burial. For years I've read about what happens during a sky burial and what it is. Upon arrival at a little dingy hotel in Litang, we were asked if we want to witness a sky burial, its now become a tourist attraction. My previous reading of it was more respectful. So some 17 of us were waiting the next morning at the reception desk in the hotel. We came from England, Holland, Israel, the USA, Hong Kong, Poland and China. we went in 2 mini vans to the site, a small hill where colorful prayer flags flap in the breeze. It was a clear and pristine morning, the air was so clean, at that altitude, unlike the air in the big cities of Chengdu where we originated from. We waited for 2 hours not knowing if there will be a sky burial. Then in the horizon a few mini vans appeared but towards the back of us a solo mini van also appeared. This was the van that carried the body. The Tibetan Buddhists believed that the soul if it has done enough good deeds on earth goes into nirvana and no longer inhabits the body. The body is now being used to feed another living thing, in this case, the vultures. The body breaker then comes over, slices the body and called on the vultures to feed. He then breaks the bones, mix it with tsampa and continues to feed the vultures until the whole corpse is consumed. Strewn all over that hill are pieces of human hair, fragments of skull and other bones, knives and scissors. The whole area where we were standing to witness the sky burial was an open cemetery. None of us could speak after what we saw. As I explained to some in our party, they felt better, asked if I was a believer. No, I am not, I'm not a very curious person. So what do you think?

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Death and dying

 This is how much wood needed to burn an average size corpse.
Unless we travel we'll never experience these events. Here I was in Kathmandu 2 years ago and my first day to a famous temple had me seeing these images. I saw dead bodies being carried on the streets towards the temple. I saw bodies reposing by the river, to be cleansed before the burning.I saw corpses being burned. To us this might be strange and squeamish but to the believers this is the right and honorable thing to do. The Hindus believe in it. Here in Nepal, Hindus and Buddhists live and practice their religion alongside each other.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Lijiang, China

This was the outskirts of Lijiang, a quaint little village in Southern China with a Unesco world heritage site designation. The younger woman was pulling the cart full of rice stalks, the older one was running behind and here am I running after them to take their picture. I couldn't keep up, I was so out of shape, I was panting so hard. This was a few years ago. Today I'm fitter than I was then. Thank God.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


We takes many things for granted as Americans, that our government will take care of us, take care of the security concerns and keep us safe. Keep us free from diseases like Ebola. In Israel, there are so many concerns that most of us are not even aware of. There are terrorists threats every day and at every corner. In the old city of Jerusalem especially, Jewish women and children are aware of the dangers they face everyday. Three Jewish boys were kidnapped by Hamas and murdered and that sparked a war between the Palestinians and the Jewish people. I took a visit to the underground city under the Western wall. Here is an unexposed part of the Western wall and Jewish women and children come down here to pray. Our visit took us the whole length of the wall and we emerged on the other side into the Arab quarter. While we tourists can do that, the Jewish women and children are not allowed to come out into the Arab quarter, they must walk back where they entered into the Jewish quarter for safety reasons.

Monday, October 27, 2014

My book

 5 am Sunday morning I was at a printing store making copies. I don't recommend this, the cost was too prohibitive. I'm looking for cheaper options, much cheaper options.

 Here am I using my home printer. The only thing is I have to flip the second page over and feed the same copy back into the machine to print the other side. Its a lot more work but cheaper and I found some cheap generic ink which I have yet to try. This would be a more viable option!
 I have 10 copies of this, its more like a prototype.
After months of work, I finally have the finished product. Wow, what an achievement. Now its on to other projects. Don't try this at home, its tedious unless you're really interested in books and reading but writing and publishing and doing it all by yourself is an entirely different experience. Why am I doing it? I just want to write stuff that I want to read. Here is Charleston and the Bloomsbury group condensed into 8,000 words. I need my head examined!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

St Emilion, France

UPS, France is shipping wine from France to all over the world. There are even Chinese signs here replacing Japanese ones. Its now the Chinese that are buying and drinking more wine. The Chinese are even buying vineyards and wine makers. This was taken 2 years ago.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Not your French brocante, that's for sure. Mornings in Jaffa can be spent checking out housewares at an open market in downtown, just minutes walk away from Tel Aviv. Its right next to the waterfront, the Mediterranean sea. This is the Levant, of ancient days. Travel is so incredible.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Temple mount, Jerusalem

New research says the Jewish temples were not built on the temple mount as has been long postulated. In the Old Testament, the temple was in the city of David. The city of David is a little lower down from the temple mount where there was a spring, the pool of Siloam, where the High Priests could do their ablutions before worship. Today the city of David is being excavated. They may very well find remnants of the old temple here in the city of David. The Jewish people wants to rebuild the temple. It wouldn't be possible on the temple mount but it could be definitely possible if it was at the city of David. The search continues in the Holy land.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A love letter

 I was checking some illustrated letters on the Internet when I came across something called the Cuban letters. During the Cuban crisis, a burlesque dancer was writing some graphic letters to JFK in the White House. JFK is known for his philandering and this dancer's name was 'Blaze' and here is one of those letters. Imagine getting a letter like this!
 Before I set out to visit Charleston this last May I did this page and after looking at it for a while, I thought to myself 'would it be fun if this was like 100 pages and there are more illustrations and writing. This was what I've been doing the past few weeks and I'm almost finishing the project.
 My dining table is just inundated with all my work.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Tagong grassland, China

'Do not disturb, dreamer at work'.
Here I was 2 years ago in China, sitting on the Tagong grassland and writing. It was an amazing trip, there was nothing there, just a few Tibetans caught in a country, China, which was not theirs and practicing a form of Buddhism not found anywhere in the Buddhist world. I feel their pain for I myself have no country to call my own. Born as Chinese in Malaysia which was then under the British and today lives in the USA. Who am I?