Tag Archives: Tourist attraction

Vincent vanGogh museum ( 7th may 2018)

I visited van Gogh museum today without any information prior. I love arts but I have no sense of understanding about complicated art . So I bought a ticket from online and thought I would meet a tour guide at the entrance but I found none in the end. It was a chaos as I was also five minutes late for my entrance time. I texted to the tourguide but did not get any . I was panic when I did not get reply from the tour guide.I thought the guide would leave me alone and I would not be able to enter into museum. People were queing outside and it was such a lovely day as the temperature was 27C . One of the ladies even arrived ten minutes later than her arrival time. But the museum staff welcomed us and said its ok to arrive a bit late .  I went inside the museum with other people after showing my online ticket. For audio guide, I needed to pay extra 5 euros as it was not included in my online purchase.

Since from the beginning, I opened audio and I was blown away by detailed collections of his art work plus letters written by him to his brother and other artist. In the end, someone like me who knew nothing about Van goGh ended up being emotional after reading and observing all his work.

The fact that he only sold one painting during his short life span did not console me either. I listened to every audio and I was teary in the end. The ticket mentioned it was one and half hour tour but I spent three hours there looking at his paintings . So I recommend the visitors to have proper rest before going there so that you can spend more time there with clear mind.

In brief, Van goGh was born in 1853 and died in 1890 at the age of 37.  His Father was a pastor who was a devoted protestant.
Vangoh had two brothers and three sisters. His inappropriate behavior as the eldest son made his parents worried. He was a child who spent many hours outdoors observing nature. His parents tried to instill their values of hardwork and getting good reputation as a family into their children. Van Gogh uncle was an art dealer and Vangoh tried to work with him with little success and he was asked to leave the business. His honesty did not give benefit to the business. However his brother became a successful art dealer in Paris and Theo supported Van Gogh both financially and emotionally.
Vangoh and his dad had different opinions on religion and in his letter to Theo, he wrote his reluctance to move back into parents house . He wrote they would regard him as a big dirty shaggy dog which barks all the time. However, he drew the picture of his dad worn out bible one year after his dad’s death.

After his failure in business as an art dealer, his dad tried to put him under religious guidance to follow his footstep as a pastor. Van gogh studied Theology and moved to  , a poor mining village in Belgium. He became emotionally too involved with minors and his religious leaders decided he was not fit to become a pastor.

His true calling as an artist came only when he was 27 and he started studying arts by reading books about colors and observing other people works. He used pen, pencils, chalks and inks. Sometimes, he made his own pencil with great satisfaction. He drew 1100 artworks and only half of them is now in his museum. Theo saw his sketches and encouraged him to devote to painting. Instead of paying him monthly, Theo accepted his paintings and paid him for them or exchanged his paintings with other artists paintings.

His systematic planning and observation contrasted with his impulsive and emotional life of artists. He was also not a solitary artist and wanted to be in touch with other artists whom he greatly admired especially Paul Gaugin and Emile Bernard. He wrote letter to another artist Paul Sgnac with affection and gratitude in 1889   after Paul’s visit to him while he was unwell. He wrote that “ the best consolation, if not the only remedy , is , it still seems to me, profound friendships. Thank you again for your visit, which gave me so much pleasure”.

He lived with his parents in Nuenen, a rural poor countryside as he had nowhere to go when he turned 30 which was 3 years after his artist life.
Van Gogh loved rural life. He wrote to his parents that “a peasant who work hard and fight during his work is a civilized person. The more you go into urban life, the more you go into darkness of uncivilization, stupidity and wickedness. Peasant life is quieter , more peaceful and better. Even if they can be cheap to each other, they do not do as badly as they do in cities”.

The reason why we know everything about Van Gogh was he wrote 820 letters and most of them towards Theo, his confidant. VAN goGh was not only a great artist but also a talented writer. In his letters, Van Gogh emerges as an intelligent , impassioned man with a great thirst for art and literature. Sometimes; his enthusiasm got the better of him, such as in his religious period ( 1876-1879) . He could hold forth with great zeal, and in so doing lost sight of reality. In vincent days, letters were delivered 2 to 3 times per day and he replied his brother immediately the day after he received his letter in Hague. He sometimes was totally out of money and could afford to buy stamp only with support from Theo.

In Nuenen, Vangoh was 30 plus and he drew everyday pictures of countrymen and women and their children. He said the country women who are exposed to sand, wind and sun are prettier than ladies. He admired their strength , simple life  and earthy life.

He  tried to go to Antwerp , Belgium and Paris to study arts . He met great artists in Paris and realized his Dutch work was too simple. He tried to learn from other artists about modern arts  and he also bought many graphic arts from Japan to study then in details. The japanese artists greatly influenced his work.

He appointed a house called My little Yellow house in Arles , France with the aim of inviting various artists to have art community. Only Paul Gauguin came after many invitations and lived with him in 1888. The yellow house is one of his famous paintings and it depicited how much he enjoyed life that time. There was a restaurant left to his studio where he ate supper everyday. His friend ,a post man lived with family near to his yellow house and all family members became his subjects for portrait painting. He became close to post office staff as he needed to communicate with his brother by post .

Van gogh had done many self portraits for economical reason. At that time, it was expensive to use live models.He used different colors for his eyes . He also painted flowers, fruits, landscapes and trees. He also painted sculptures.He wanted to become a painter of peasant life when he was in Nuenen. He once painted sunflowes in three different tints of yellows. The job had the best result and he was very satisfied and announced that he should be a painter of  sunflowers. Sunflowers are earthy and vibrant. When he died, his brother put sunflowers in his coffin.

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Apart from ordinary people, he painted prostitutes in dignity and admiration. He also asked his brother to buy a painting of prostitue drawn by another artist.

Paul Gaugin and Vangoh  relationship clashed when thry lived together. Two artists had different approach to arts. Paul made arts based on imagination and Van Gogh painted from real life. They had several rows although they admired each other. Paul left yellow house after a serious argument with Van Gogh. Van gogh developed hallucinations and cut his left ear after his friend departure. He presented his ear to a prostitute who called a police. His doctor diagnosed him as having epilepsy with acute mania. His neighbours made a petition to expel him out of yellow house as they found him wandering neighborhood confused. He admitted himself to Mental Institution after second attacks . Even when he was being admitted, he painted landscape of neighborhood such as orchards in blossoms. He wrote that he was allowed to roam neighborhood when he was not very ill.
Van Gogh spent final months of his life in rural Auvers- sur-Oise, near Paris . He painted 75 paintins in 70 days Van Gogh portrayed nature in all of its manifestations; gardens with full of flowers, a close up of waving wheat, and panoramic landscapes filled with emotion  For him, nature was sacred, a sanctuary from which to draw solace, or region strength. He created his masterpiece called starry night while he was not allowed to go outside the room. He painted starry night observing stars behind the iron barred window. It was phenomenal, blue sky mixed with yellow.

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After his hospitalization in the asylum in Saint-Remy, van gogh felt like ‘broken pitcher’ which cannot be amended even so, in between his bouts of mental illness; he worked on steadily and courageously to become a better artist. If he was not allowed to work outside, he painted the view from his room through iton barred window. Or he explored garden where he found endless subjects.

In 1890, he shot himself at chest with a pistol in a field near Auvers and died two days after that with Theo beside him. Twenty people of his acquaintances and friends attended funeral. His family could not due to short notice. It was a chaotic event as the pastor refused to make religious event for his funeral as he took his own life. VAN Gogh who was the son of the pastor did not have a pastor at his funeral. However, he claimed he was lucid when he shot himself and he always wanted to end the life that way. It was a bit strange for me but he kept painting even with his deadly injury.
THE LAST painting he drew was named the roots and it showed his confidence and ability to find beauty and magic in daily life. He was found dead hoding his easel.
My favorite painting is called wheatfield with crows. Van gogh regard wheat as a symbol of eternal cycle of life. Its being sown and grown and reaped in day life. Its like human death.

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Unfortunately, his brother died only six months after his death with syphilis at the age of 32. Theo behaved as the owner of the drawings and paintings that his brother sent him . Theo was distressed by Van Gogh death in july 1890. His widow 28 year old Jo Van Gogh_ bonger inherited collection of arts and with her effort of selling and lending his paintings to museum, his arts became well known . After Jo death in 1925, Vincent williem, the nephew of Van Gogh  created the Vincent vanGogh foundation and devoted himself to realising the Van Gogh museum , where the family collection found their permanent home in Amsterdam.

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Mandalay palace,U Bein Bridge, Burma

The palace of Manday was constructed between 1857-1859 by King Mindone , the second last king of Burma. He loved Mandalay mountain and built the palace near the mountain and named his emperor Mandalay based on the name of the mountain.

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The palace ceased to be the resident for royal family in 1885 when British leading Anglo Indian army invaded the palace and sent the royal family to India. The last king was King Thibaw who got the throne when he was barely 20. His wife x a 19 year old Queen Suphayalat was a fearless and fierce lady despite her small figure. She masterminded to get  position of the king for her husband by assassinating the senior royal members who were elderly siblings of King Thibaw. It was documented that the massacre involved 80-100 royal family members.

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King Thibaw and Queen Suphayalat

Queen Suphayalat was interesting and she broke all the Burmese royal culture..For example, she intervened the marriage of king Thibaw to her elder sister Suphaya Gyi at the wedding ceremony by sitting in between the couple. Later her sister was cancelled as the Queen and she took over her sister’s position .

She also forced the king not to marry any other women in contrary to Burmese royal tradition in which a King could choose many women as much as he desires.

It is also interesting to know that Thibaw and Suphayalat were the half siblings born from the same father and different mothers. Among all sons,Thibaw was King Mindone’s favorite as he was mentored not only by Royal Burmese teachers but also by a British tutor. King Thibaw could speak English fluently and also interested in modern gadgets. When he was in exile at Ratnagiri, India, King Thibaw used his binoculars and predicted weather as well as ship wreck to the villagers.

He lost a lot of his jewels as he needed to sell them to pay for the workers they brought from Burma. Eventually, his precious jewels were sold with miserable price. King Thibaw passed away in Ratnagiri and later the Queen and two daughters returned to Burma. Out of four daughters, one of them married to a Local Indian who was their servant from Ratnagiri. The Queen fiercely protected scandals of her daughter by saying that it was not the fault of her daughter and The Brits should be blamed for detaining the royals in a place where the girls could not be exposed to good suitors aka other Burmese Royal blood.

If you want further detail of the exciled , you can read the following book called “the glass palace” written by Amitav Ghosh..

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King Thibaw was well known  as a soft and indecisive person who was puppetted by his fierce wife. It was difficult for them to manage the country by the young and inexperienced couple as they also sent a lot of wise national advisors into excile as there were afraid of retaliation after the massacre.

After getting the throne for a few years, British government invaded Burma and cut down trees to get timber without paying any taxation to royal family . When the king ordered to pay tax, the British army invaded and took away jewels belong to the palace. Burmese army who did not have advanced weapons could not defend the colonial army.

At the same time, the looters came inside the palace to take advantage of situation. The Queen was mad and ordered the looters to back off from her room which they surprisingly obeyed. She had that sort of aura.

When the royal family was sent to the harbour in carriage led by horses, thousands of Burmese followed them on foot in tears. By that time, they had forgotten the fact that the royal couple had cost a lot of mortality in the palace. The only thing they had in mind is they do not want to lose their king and queen.

Mandalay mountain has lots of big trees and many wild animals that time. Later the pagoda was constructed by a hermit at the top of the mountain and it became one of the famous pilgrims’ attractions.

There was a legend that two big snakes came to the pagoda and stayed there for years looked after by the monks..After they passed, the pilgrims put the statues of the snakes there.

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It is nice to see sunset at the top of the Mandalay hill and you can enjoy the panorama view of the town. Here are the photos

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I was lucky enough to see blossoms of red color flowers at that time which make the scenery with red patches in lush green forest.

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The pagoda is named “sutaungpyae phayar” meaning whoever pray and wishes at pagoda will be granted with their wishes.

Its very common to see college students in group trying to engage conversation with tourists to practice their speaking skill. Similarly tourists ask lots of questions to monks regarding Buddhism

If you ever drop a visit to Mandalay hill, do not be alarmed if the youth approach you and speak to you. They are harmless and will be happy if you can spare a few minutes for them.

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For people who like shoping, you can buy souvenirs along the stairs.

As it is a great place to see the sunset, you should pay a visit to Mandalay hill.

Another interesting place to visit in Mandalay is U Bein  bridge which was built by a Burmese mayor  called U Bein more than 100 years ago. (1849-1851)

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You can watch lots of birds and observe the fishermen fishing in various ways. Some use boats and fishing nets. Some use fishing rods and some use bare hands.

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a man catching fish with bare hands

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You can also hire a boat with cheap price. The bridge is the most beautiful at the time of monsoon.

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It was the oldest and the longest (1.2km ) teak wood bridge in the world.

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Thank you for reading.

Ps. Thanks to wikipedia and facebook photos

Hninn