Developing Cool Arts South Sea Cultural & ECommerce Portal, 1998

In development, to be located at  

Presenting a feverish vista onto Southeast Asia, from the Age of Discovery through the Golden Age of Travel….spiked with the delirium only a good bout of malaria can provide!  A site of resource and entertainment for Western nostalgia-seeking Baby Boomer travellers to their Generation X backpacking cultural tourism children.  A window into this part of the world both past and present, through the atmospheric and romantic filter of history, art and literature (COOL ARTS): summoning up awesome adventure, the pursuit of commerce and spirit of exploration that once characterized the Western world's relationship with these Crossroads of the East.


Our upscale, well-educated English-speaking target clientele are historically- and aesthetically- saavy people as well as others enchanted by our handsome, substantial, well-read and humorous rendering of the region.  They include both people who voyage in the flesh and those who visit this part of the world virtually.  We'll provide the attractive, entertaining context for their explorations, as well as provide access to select products, suppliers, resources, establishments and destinations which currently celebrate South East Asia's colorful legacies and legends.    Cool Arts South Sea will offer a comprehensive and contemporary look at an old place, all the while having a little fun with the history, art and literature generated both in the West about this place, and here in Asia.


For instance, the first edition of the site might feature in its TERRA INCOGNITA Tales section a piece about the tea trade and how pidgin english originated from the Europeans' need to communicate with the Chinese in some language they could both understand; and in the Hot Spot section, a spotlight on a Bangkok-based publisher of quirky travelogue reprints from the 19th century and reprints of antique books about Asian elephants. This publisher currently sells online and we would want to get involved with that, perhaps offering his wares in our ARCHIPELAGO TRADING section, or operating as a portal to his site.  In further additions we would add archives, a searchable timeline, more products and vendors, information about resources and destinations featured in TERRA INCOGNITA and ARCHIPELAGO TRADING.


Also for instance in the first edition, the more rollickingly interpretative COOL ARTS section:  in the Literature section EX LIBRIS we might feature excerpts of turn of the century British Malaya newspaper items along with jocular contemporary criticism and images in GALLERY section to illustrate the points.  These artistic, computer-assisted images (and sometimes the images of the literature itself) and their wacky explanatory captions could be sent to one's friends via our POSTAL CARDS section.  In PANDEMONIUM we may start compilation of a series of famous people who've had malaria, and the outcomes of some of their bouts, such as the esteemed naturalist Alfred Wallace, who originated the theory of Natural Selection while in a malarial fever in this part of the world.  The fact that Darwin is better known for his Origin of Species may be directly related to that debilitating but illuminating fever.  We might explore this in more detail in our NATURALIST'S CORNER which will highlight the natural world and the people who came here to study it, a subsection most likely of TERRA INCOGNITA.  We might also ask our audience to nominate other worthy parties for inclusion in the MALARIA HALL OF FAME which may be set up in Pandemonium.


In any case, we want input from our visitors, we want to know what they know, what they love, what they want to know more about and we'll give them every opportunity to tell us, as well as offer them a GLOSSARY to explain the terms and phrases we use, some of which are not used very often any more.  We want to bring them back in all their mystique and style.  We'll also ask our visitors to sign our GUESTBOOK to build our database, vote on the first items to be offered in ARCHIPELAGO TRADING (some of which we may produce ourselves in our COOL ARTS product line) and tell us what they want defined in GLOSSARY, as well as suggest venues or tales they'd like to see featured in TERRA INCOGNITA.  Very interactive.


By the third incarnation of the site we hope to have a virtual community beginning, as well as some ecommerce structure in place, and a more fully-fleshed portal-like directory growing.



What follows here:

1) The company philosophy as it was written for the ABOUT US section, an introduction for our visitors

2) The site map

3) A description of the design theme for the site and logo

4) Directions for home page and directory page with design and mouseover information

5) Extended definitions of bracketing periods to be placed in site's glossary

6) Materials and Labor: breakdown of what we have, what we don't








"The part of the world that lies around the South China Sea", as one European narrator so circuitously  referred to it, was once immersed in an illustrious mystique.  Pirates and monsoons held sway on the seas while headhunters and mosquitos did their part in the interior.  Yet over several centuries an international set of adventurers, traders, colonizing industrialists and pleasure travellers risked these and a slew of other tropical hazards.  Along with Asiatic goods and unimaginable riches, fanciful tales filtered home: of ancient races, shining temples and blue, impenetrable jungle.  Even the air was different here, as the east wind apparently came laden with the aroma of silks, sandalwood, spices and camphor.  Well, no longer.



Oh, Southeast Asia (and the scattered bits all around and around...)continues its enveloping assault on the senses; its roots are as deep as ever; and its jungles, untouched by the Ice Age (although mauled by Cro-Magnon's less-hirsute relatives), still encompass a greater diversity of species than any other place on earth. But in today's shrinking world we have lost a most colorful naivete, the uncensored awe and attendant romantic notions that once swirled like a thick fog around exotic new lands.



COOL ARTS SOUTH SEA seeks to renew the wonder that existed in these watery crossroads of the East from the Renaissance's Age of Discovery with its ambitious empire-building and search for profitable trade-routes, through the impossibly sophisticated steamer trunks-and-servants Golden Age of Travel, and beyond. By conjuring the senses and sentiments of those vaporous days, as well as helping you access suppliers, establishments and destinations which celebrate those colorful legacies and legends, we propose to take a new look at an old place.



Cool Arts South Sea intends to amass both modern and ancient resources, for today's more historically-saavy traveller, whether you voyage by virtual-armchair, in the flesh, or both. A wide array of avenues will aid in enriching your trip, and assure the mementos you bring home to loved ones reflect your most adventurous notions of the place. From firsthand accounts of Asiatic travels, to the hippest opportunities for capturing a vanishing slice of South China Sea life, Cool Arts South Sea marks the spot.



Fear not.  Cool Arts South Sea is the perfect place to begin exploring uncharted territories, an introduction to the mysterious world that lies at the intersection of the East and the West, the past and the present.  We aim to provide general explanations and further references for all newcomers whose interest is aroused. (with GLOSSARY and mouseover texts)  If you don't see an explanation already on the site, refuse to be daunted in the face of the unknown (like all good explorers) and ask us for one -- we will do our best to supply it.



We are the intersection of old and new; east and west; straight-ahead historical fact and irreverent revisionist fantasy; gravity and levity. So in addition to straight-ahead historical representations, you will also see hybrid ventures and fusion perceptions, those with meaningful East-West elements and contemporary slants on ancient motifs.



Our particular interest lies in the rediscovered and reinvented treasures of the region -- and our modern, tongue-in-cheek spin on the region's events and customs (of natives and foreigners alike) not only memorializes the lives and livelihoods past, but also wickedly tweaks the follies of the day.   Our romantic fog banks burn off when the sun gets hot enough!



We invite all you world-class explorers and armchair historians, landlubbers and seapuppies to be active participants in our search for meaningful destinations and quality purveyors of flaming east mystique -- by nominating for our ever-growing roster the unique gems you have mined in your own South China Sea escapades.



…includes a full-fledged virtual community and ebusiness. Meet others with similar interests -- and debate esoterics or tropical topicals-- as well as access an unusual collection of products, services and other instruments tailored for the historically and artistically astute Cool Arts South Sea crowd.  See our PRODUCTS page for more information and to vote on the products, services and other instruments you want to see first. If you would like to be kept abreast of this site's advances check that box in the guestbook.








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CONTACT US             |                  |                   ____ __|_______                                                             GUESTBOOK

Hot Spots            Tales             |          |          |

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(Fine Arts  Philosophy  Literature)




MAIN THEME:  Artistic, aesthetic, historically-based but funky and contemporary



Burnished, old-timey feel - no bright, clear jewel tones, no mcdonald's yellow or corporate blue

Mysterious and spicy colors, muted or "dusty-looking" (like burnt orange, maroon, teal and seafoam green, cream, white, black, dusty rose, dusty purple)





Two Typefaces for Headings and subheadings:

1) EASTERN/ASIAN (like current Rickshaw)

2) WESTERN/EUROPEAN COLONIAL (like current Caslon Antique)



  1. SOMETHING GEOGRAPHICAL (whether explorers, traders or luxury travellers)

Old maps, cartography symbols like galleons and compasses, nautical symbols, yellowing parchment paper, clipper ship, fancy cruise luggage labels from grand old hotels


  1. SOMETHING ARTISTIC (local art forms)

Architectural details (like shophouses, temples, atap villages); Sculptural details (like Angkor Wat figures): Textile patterns, fancy borders, wood carvings


  1. SOMETHING JUNGLY (plant or animal or both)

Bamboo, Palms, beaches, Padi fields, jungle, tropical fruits, spices, orchids; Elephants, tigers, cobras, monkeys, butterflies


And if can find a place:



Trademarks from defunct businesses, matchbook covers, old photos, stamps, money, advertisements, signboards with different languages, old newspaper and book excerpts




HOME PAGE - Centered Logo on Map background, with  copyright and viewing info.  All fits on one screen


Above logo, medium font Caslon Antique intro:


"Ahoy there!  You've run aground in the Flaming East…

prime territory for world-class explorers, swashbuckling privateers and [sniff!] the most discriminating of gentility's travellers."


Below logo, also medium font:


"Presenting our feverish vista onto the fringes of the South China Sea

-- or "INDIAE ORIENTALIS ET INSULARUM ADIACENTIUM," as those Latin-happy cartographers would have it -- from THE AGE OF DISCOVERY through THE GOLDEN AGE OF TRAVEL…

spiked with the delirium only a solid bout of malaria can provide!"


(* mouseover definition: "the East Indies and adjacent islands")

(*mouseover definition:  (1450-1650) an explosive sea-faring period of world exploration and East-West trade routes)

(*mouseover definition:  (1880-1939) from the Victorian era of the swift steamship to the advent of the modern jet age, when the allure of exotic ports of call dovetailed with technological advances…..and the entire planet became a playground for the rich and famous)



Mouseover box on Logo: "Whether you come via luxurious ocean voyage or that damn bumpy road to Mandalay, by trusty mail steamer from darkest Borneo or the night train to Singapore…all routes lead to the world of COOL ARTS SOUTH SEA. Click to enter."









Each icon has a boldfaced title underneath and beside the icon, a description.  Plus a mouseover-box invitation.


Title: ABOUT US (Lady's head with superimposed compass)

Mouseover: Get oriented!

Description: The swiftest means to orient yourself in this mysterious domain.  Recommended for all maiden voyages.


Title: TERRA INCOGNITA (Steamer ship)

Mouseover:  Explore "unknown territories"!

Description: Investigate select venues and vendors, destinations and diversions, travels and tales.


Title: COOL ARTS (Mosquito)

Mouseover: Succumb to a tropical fever!

Description: Run amok with our biting look at art, literature and philosophy.


Title: ARCHIPELAGO TRADING CO. (Chest of drawers)

Mouseover: Dive into our treasure trove!

Description: Hunt through unearthed treasures and prospect in our jungle motherlode.


Title: GUEST BOOK (Elephant with chops)

Mouseover: Stoke the flames with your opinions!

Description: As a memento of your peregrinations with us, kindly leave your mark.


Title: POSTAL CARDS (Missent Postcard)

Mouseover: 'Wish you were here!

Description: Let your correspondents know how you're managing in the tropics.



Extended definitions of periods (to be placed in glossary)


THE AGE OF DISCOVERY (1450-1650)  Concurrent with the European Renaissance. With access to new sea-faring trade routes pioneered by world-class explorers like the Portuguese Vasco de Gama and Spanish Ferdinand Magellan, Europe enjoyed a massive expansion of trade with the Far East.  Eastern riches flowed into Europe: tea, sugar, cocoa, spices, gems, drugs, silks, embroideries and fine fabrics.



GOLDEN AGE OF TRAVEL (1880-1939)  The Orient's exotic ports of call became pleasurably accessible when two things happened almost concurrently:  the invention of the steam-powered ship (replacing the 19th century's far-ranging but slower sailing ships, the clippers) and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869.  Not long after, a stylish Victorian Age phenomenon began to take shape: Extremely civilized round-the-world cruises complete with servants and steamer trunks became known as "Making the Grand Tour".  New status symbols cropped up: A suitcase full of fancy luggage labels marked the well-heeled and well-traveled person.  Luxury liners circumnavigated the world, disgorging their celebrity and high society passengers into fabled playgrounds, like Asia's grand hotels: Singapore's Raffles, Penang's Eastern and Oriental, Rangoon's Strand and Saigon's Continental Palace.




a great deal of historical and artistic images we can play with

a library of historical travelogues, and books on many far-ranging and pertinent topics

supply of researched materials, topics, phrases, the platforms for expansion into features, etc

our own images ready to go

rudimentary list of companies/ventures to approach for inclusion in the site, both online and off

registered domain names

registered Malaysian company

draft of proposal letter to featured companies to enlist their cooperation/collaboration in portal/ebiz

Site Development schedule in three phases

metatext and comprehensive list of keywords for search engines

writing and design talent/capability

scanner, color printer, photoshop, corel draw, dreamweaver, hotdog web editors



Technical resources and state of the industry experience

Coding:  html, java, cgi and others for all pages including mockup of site theme

Programming for Postal Cards (to send or bring recipients to site to pick up)

Programming and database institution for Guestbook

Server (requirements, location, etc)

Ebiz solutions and related support and guidance, including advertising and promotion