Hands and Faces - 2 - Meet Von

 Hands and Faces - 2 - Meet Von Tonsai main street - Thailand The Story The hippie-esque climbing village of Tonsai is a beautifu...

 Hands and Faces - 2 - Meet Von
Tonsai main street - Thailand

The Story

The hippie-esque climbing village of Tonsai is a beautiful place riddled with shortcomings that define it, and many instances give it its character.
For example: there is no easy access, everything must come in by boat due to the band of cliffs that isolate it from the local towns, resulting in a reduction in the kind of tourists that breeze through a place for a day with little real interest and care for it. Power is intermittent at best, running only through the night via generators meaning...no wifi. People put down those awful smart devices are are open to conversation with strangers!

The latest such instance is the future construction of a luxury resort between the beach front and the main street of Tonsai. To keep the locals back, and huge ugly grey concrete wall was built this year running one side of the main street.

The one upside to this, is the beach is no longer a place of activities. It's a quiet and beautiful natural place where you can enjoy the sea and t's starkly contrasted to the bustling shores of next-door Railay, where music pumps, vendors walk and tourists happily sunburn their puffy bodies.

Even though Tonsai is a touristic place it maintains a strong sense of community. People tend to stay a few weeks and care for the place. The ugly wall of Tonsai has had a surprising reaction. Its existence is taken as a given, there is no talk of breaking down the wall. Instead the wall has brought people closer together into the community. It's only been up a few months but already colourful and upbeat art work is sprawled over great sections of it.


Von had started painting the day she turned up to Tonsai. Slight build, wrapped in loose fabric she was laying down an outline of a beautiful portrait onto the grey canvas. I told her it was beautiful and she turned. I was equally surprised by her intense eyes and Australian accent. She had borrowed paint from the local businesses to put up her work.

I spoke with Von at length about her painting. I took the instant photo fairly early in the conversation and she showed me her sketchbook filled with colourful intense portraits. As someone with experience with both concrete and paint I passed on a few ideas of how they might interact. She's an impressive artist with a strong stylised look to her work, yet I was taken by the value she gave to other peoples opinions. I've realised that its a virtue I really admire in people: when they are masters of their art but not beyond seeking council of others

Three days she toiled on the work. I'd walk past many times a day, to go to and from climbing, lunch, out drinking and Von was there making something beautiful for the sake of it being something beautiful. I spent some time with this beautiful soul both in Tonsai and later in Pai in the north of Thailand. Ever graceful, beautiful and kind.

Von's work cane see here:

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