Working holiday!

It’s a matter of perspective, I guess.

This morning, I left “home” (I’m going to call it “home” from now on, since “home” is a shorter word than “the guesthouse.”) around 07:30. This was the perfect time to see the kids arriving at school, which is on my way to Loi Kroh Massage School. They were so cute. Some of them reminded me very much, physically, of my students back at Frost Lake Elementary. Those ones were probably Hmong as well.

After the school, I passed the blind massage place, so I took a picture of it.

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The massage by blind people is next door to the tourist information, and the man there called out to me as I walked by.

-Good morning! How are you?
-Morning! Good, you? (Sharon)
-Not as good as you!
-Why?
-I’m working! You’re on holiday!
-I’m working, too!

Amazingly, I am. Wow. I love my job. I love my job normally, but this? This is great. I get to come to Thailand to study, and it’s technically work!

Later on, I was walking around and saw (another) sign advertising Muay Thai schools. I remember how Mike, my teacher when I was training, would talk about his time in Thailand at a training camp. I remember how exotic that sounded, how unreal. Now it feels so obvious. If you aspire to proficiency in something, and that something has a home base, yes, absolutely, you should go there. Studying a thing where it comes from adds depth and understanding, as well as proficiency, to your practice.

Today, and for the next 2 days, as well as next weekend, my work is to practice Ruesri Datton, or hermit stretching. This is yoga in the Thai massage tradition. I thought that doing this first would help locate me here, and prepare me for my massage trainings.

My teacher is Napa, at Loi Kroh Massage School, just a short way southeast of the eastern gate of the city. I like her. She agreed to do this class during MY available dates, which means they are finding strange mixes of people to share the class with me, and it will be only me taking it for certification. I pay the group price, and receive almost private instruction. How generous of her, and the school!

Napa is very quiet and slow-moving/speaking, but funny. She makes jokes you have to be listening closely to in order to get. After the 2 Japanese tourists (they are here only for the weekend) left, she explained everything again in detail. Then we practiced a few more poses. She talks a lot about your intent as well as the purpose of each pose. I didn’t write that part down, but now I think I should have. I will try to correct that tomorrow.

After class ended, I asked about the abdominal detox massage. This massage is one of the specialties of this school, and I’m curious. I have deliberately left one week here unplanned, in order to decide between that and one or two others. Napa asked her colleague if there was time to massage me today, and told me to come back in a couple of hours.

I wandered around that neighborhood, which is also near the Night Market, and stopped in at a temple (Wat Loi Kroh) before heading back.

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Unfortunately, when I returned, my period started, which meant no massage for me. Certainly no abdominal detox, anyway. I haven’t decided what massage I’ll have instead, but maybe I will try out as foot massage in the market. We’ll see.

So after, I thought I’d see if I could find the various guesthouses where Matt and I stayed last time. Then I could think about the price and whether I wanted to argue out of my place.

It took me a while. I wasn’t really sure where to look, and was orienting myself upside down on the map, thinking they must have been down when they were really up.

I found them, and inquired. The rates were nearly 3 times what I’m paying, and one of therm is booked all month. The other is booked for another week. So I decided to relax about it for now.

Leaving, I got turned around again, and stopped in another temple. I think it must have been Wat Duang Di, as I study the map now. I found the anus and scrotum amusing on this lion/dog/whatever.

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After the wat, I followed a narrow road but was turned back by a man in the road. I had wondered why he was standing there, staring at me as he was. I got close enough and he shouted out, pointing at the ground. About 20 paces from me, was a medium-sized pale snake, moving around on the ground in the direct center of the road. A bicycle was between me and it, so I hadn’t seen it before. I wonder if it was his bicycle. He wandered off, looking agitated, then back again. I turned back the way I had come, and warned two other tourists, who also turned back. A scooter passed us going that direction, but a moment later she returned as well.

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Funny thing about being here so long. I don’t NEED to do anything right away. I realized that, and decided to head back for a rest. Then I really got lost.

During all of this wandering, I was dressed in my training clothes: Thai fisherman pants, sports bra, and T-shirt. Most of the tourists were wearing hippy clothes or shorts and tucked-in polo shirts (vacation clothes of the Baby Boomers). Locals wear anything from really traditional stuff, to hippy stuff, to the same sorts of modern clothes you’d see anywhere. Not many westerners were wearing Thai pants. Strangely, I felt out of place, like a poser. Which is funny, since this is an outfit I wear quite often, most every day in the summer, for work as well as on the beach, and sometimes in the winter. In fact, on this trip I’m planning on buying better-quality ones that I’ll wear in the winter as well.

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So. I stopped writing in order to go eat at the Saturday market. Unfortunately, it’s only Friday. I’m so confused. Fortunately, I went alongside the small market at the Chiang Mai Gate, which I mostly walked right past, until I saw the yummy snack I remember so fondly from last time: sticky rice in bamboo! There were 3 varieties, which meant that I had no ideas which to choose, so I took the most expensive one. It was amazing, with a core of egg custard! Wow! How’d they even DO that?

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After wandering around for another hour, realizing that I didn’t want a sit-down meal, I actually went back to the same stand, where I bought sticky rice and meat wrapped in banana leaf. This I took back home, to eat on the roof terrace.

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I have concluded from the roof terrace experience that there are indeed better rooms, and that perhaps I should ask about changing. I will do so tomorrow afternoon. Now it’s time for a little more reading, then sleep. 6:30 comes early!

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