Mike Smith (Illustrator)

Tag Archives: sketch

020117

Tin years

040116

Sleep drawing

050115

Some late night sketching

Vietnam

We spent a few days in Hanoi in the north. The original plan was to travel to Ho Chi Minh City in the south — it being the furthest point by rail that we could reach from London — but we realised we would then run out of time to get to Singapore. So we decided to go half way down the country to Dong Ha, where we stopped for a day to visit the amazing Vinh Moc tunnels, then cut across to Laos.

Travel sketchbook diary, London-Singapore by train: Hanoi street view

Travel sketchbook diary, London-Singapore by train: Hanoi shop front

Travel sketchbook diary, London-Singapore by train: Hanoi temple of literature

Looking back at my little journal, I thought it was hilarious that I wrote this when we arrived in Hanoi:

Travel sketchbook diary, London-Singapore by train: I like Hanoi

Then just three days later, this:

Travel sketchbook diary, London-Singapore by train: I hate Hanoi

China

Here are some pictures from our trip through China, from 14th-24th October. We stopped at Beijing, Yangshuo and Nanning. I’d learned some Mandarin from CDs before we came, which meant that on the Chinese trains, instead of being completely misunderstood, I could be a comedy feature and be completely misunderstood.

Travel sketchbook diary, London-Singapore by train: Chinese pagoda

Travel sketchbook diary, London-Singapore by train: view from hostel

Travel sketchbook diary, London-Singapore by train: Yangshuo mountains

Travel sketchbook diary, London-Singapore by train: Chinese stall watercolour

Travel sketchbook diary, London-Singapore by train: Chinese street, Yangshuo

Special memories: seeing someone flying a kite in Beijing with such a long line that you couldn’t see the kite; hiring bikes in Yangshuo then getting stuck on the wrong side of a river and getting rafted across by a bunch of old ladies; the train trip where we sat at the back in the special gobbing/smoking compartment.

Mongolia

On the train to Mongolia we met a Russian man who said he was a lama. He took an unhealthy interest in whether we had children, and told us we ought to. To help us along he drew me a picture of the sun and told me I must keep it close to my heart. I didn’t take his advice, which is perhaps why it took so long.

Travel sketchbook diary, London-Singapore by train: Mongolian national park

Like many tourists we stayed in a traditional ger in the national park and ate some unidentifiable meat. We also went for a horse ride. That was the third time in my life that I have sat on a horse, and also the last. (I said that the other two times, but this time I meant it.)

Travel sketchbook diary, London-Singapore by train: Buddhist temple, Ulan Bataar

In this temple I was in the dog-house (as opposed to the god-house I suppose) by walking around it anticlockwise instead of clockwise.

Olkhon Island

We spent 4th-7th October on this island, which was a detour off the train line. It’s in the middle of Lake Baikal, which is the deepest lake in the world and supposedly contains 20% of the world’s freshwater.

(I decided to crop out the text on grounds of pointlessness, and just put some of the pictures up.)

Travel sketchbook diary, London-Singapore by train: Russia: Olkhon Island, Khuzhir

Travel sketchbook diary, London-Singapore by train: Russia: Olkhon Island, banya on the beach

Travel sketchbook diary, London-Singapore by train: Russia: Olkhon Island, fishing boat

Taiga Forest

In Tomsk we met someone called Gregory who got together some of his mates with carrier bags full of vodka bottles, and took us into the Taiga Forest to murder us for a barbecue.

Travel sketchbook diary, London-Singapore by train: Russia: Taiga forest

Gregory turned out to be the perfect host, guiding us back out of the forest in the small hours.

Travel sketchbook diary, London-Singapore by train: Russia: Tomsk

The trouble with staying in hostels is that you get on a kind of treadmill, meeting only other tourists. (We tried to correct this by using the couchsurfing website.) I wish I’d done more cartoons like the one below, but the trains and buses were too clattery to draw in.

Travel sketchbook diary, London-Singapore by train: cartoon of international hostellers

Omsk and Tomsk

When Caz was little there was a world map their kitchen wall, and she found it hilarious that there was a place called Omsk and a place called Tomsk. Her Dad said they must go there one day, so we took a diversion to Tomsk, which is a small branch line (ie several hours in Russian terms) off the trans-Siberian railway. Caz’s Dad flew in to Moscow and joined us especially for that bit.

Travel diary, London-Singapore by train: Moscow to Omsk

Travel diary, London-Singapore by train: Omsk

“The lady said she knows 3 expressions in English: ‘Thank you,’ ‘I love you,’ and ‘It’s a miracle!’”

Travel diary, London-Singapore by train: Taiga and Tomsk

London to Singapore

Posting the sketchbook images from Beijing the other day made me realise it’s exactly four years since Caz and I made the trip from London to Singapore by train. We left on 17th September, arrived on 13th November, then spent 6 weeks in New Zealand. I thought it would be nice to post each page here on the same day four years later.

The text was intended just to jog my memory for writing it all up later, but of course I never did. Some of the drawings are truly awful but because I’m a completeness freak I’m going to scan them all.

Er, including the first one where the pencil got smudged into oblivion. No-one will ever know what we got up to in Minsk.

Travel diary, London-Singapore by train: Minsk and Moscow

Travel diary, London-Singapore by train: Moscow

More Telegraph Poles

Talking about messy telegraph poles at Dungeness made me think of these biro sketches I did in a Beijing back street about four years ago. Every time I see one I get an ache to draw it. I dread to think why.

Sketch: telegraph poles in Beijing street

What this reminds me of more than anything is the sound of people hacking and gobbing in the street.

Dungeness

Dungeness lighthouse painting

Pencil sketch of a house at Dungeness

Dungeness lighthouse and nuclear power station painting

While we were on the south coast I did some sketching at Dungeness. It’s got to be one of the best places in the UK to go with a pad and pencil. It’s got everything, including loads of messy telegraph poles, which I particularly love drawing.

Caz’s dad is responsible for the design of part of the nuclear power station, but I can’t remember which bit.