Month: February 2014

Feels Like Forever

That phrase applies to several things today.

It feels like forever that I’ve been in Chiang Mai, although it has only been 2 weeks today. Obviously, I have only explored a tiny part of the city, since I’m mostly in classes, but the ones that I have explored feel like home. I see many of the same faces every day on my walks, and we greet each other, as you do in many small towns. I have favorite places for breakfast, for quick snacks, for lounging with WiFi. I know what I should pay for a tuktuk, as opposed to what the driver will ask.

Of course all this changes this weekend, as I’ll be renting a motorcycle to get to the next 2 locations. I will discover new routes and new convenient places.

I felt a little nervous this morning, calling Ajahn Pichest (teacher Pichet) about attending his classes next week. I’ve heard so many things about studying with him, and I had originally planned to do my first week with him, in case I decided to stay with him for all 3.5 weeks here. My plans changed due to schedules of the other courses I wanted as well, and he’s been relegated to my final week. I think 1 week will not be enough, but I usually feel that. There is always next time!

I would also like to return to Loi Kroh school in the future. I feel very at home there, very welcome, very much like family. I also feel like I was able to learn very well from both Coocky and Napa. They were excellent teachers, for one thing, but also, I feel like what they have to offer really speaks to me. And I like their senses of humor. They are both good to joke around with too, as is Pare, as are all the other wonderful people I met there. I’ve only spent a total of 9 days there, but it feels like forever in a really good way. I felt sad to say goodbye. Maybe I’ll stop in for a visit before I leave. If I can! Otherwise, next time for sure!

This is the shrine there. Napa tells me that the reclining Buddha is the Tuesday meditation pose, for people born on Tuesdays. I’m a Tuesday child. I’ve always hated this position!! 🙂


Here is a detail of the shrine. This is Dr. Shivaka, the founder of ancient Thai massage. Yes, there are 2 of him there. No, I don’t know why. It’s always like that, duplicates. I keep meaning to ask someone, but I always forget. Good reason to go to a monk chat one evening.


These are my classmates.


Next to me, Chiya, who was my partner today. This girl is crazy strong (in that she can take a lot) and crazy hungry all the time. Beside her, Coockie, the awesome teacher. Beside Coocky, Kei, who had a lot to juggle this week and amazingly never seemed to get crabby. In white, Keiko, the monk. Apparently, she’s on a travel pass and can dress “freestyle.” She was wonderful. The girl front center is studying foot reflexology. I think she is French. I never met her. We were all getting silly.

Ta da! My certificate:


For the most part, my goal this trip was to deepen my understanding of Thai massage. This was the exception. This was the only course I’m taking for new techniques. And I think it was a very good decision. I learned far more than techniques.

After school, I had an iced tea and exchanged a few messages with Pepijn. He and his wife Pear, and their absolute charmer of a little boy, Navin, are up from Bangkok for the weekend. We made plans.

It seems like forever since I’ve seen Pepijn, but he pointed out that we actually hung out about a year ago when he got stuck in Amsterdam on the same day as Matt’s birthday party. Funny!

Dinner was great, I’m in bed. I have a free day tomorrow and I’m going to spend it with those guys. 🙂

Nerve Touch Massage

I’m sorry, because unless I take some pictures today and pretend they are from yesterday (which is fine) before I post this (could happen), then there will be no photos today.

I had THE BEST massage yesterday after class. Over lunch I rushed over to Lek Chaiya massage school and made an appointment for 16:00, the latest they would take. We finished class at 15:45 and I scooted over there.

It was a little old lady who massaged me (not Mama Lek, who passed away some time ago), and at first I thought she was going soft on the farang. Nerve Touch massage is known as a sort of acupressure massage, using Northern style techniques. I expected something like Wat Pho style, quite hard. Instead, it was more like she was warming me up. She went over and over the same lines, first soft then harder until quite hard. And pretty fast.

Her technique was double thumb press, mostly, like Wat Pho, but with a rocking motion, like what I’m learning with Coocky this week. Mama Lek was Coocky’s first teacher, so there may be a connection.

She went through all 5 positions, and included stretching and hot compress. I think we went over the hour that I paid for. I’m not sure. I was in heaven when I left.

This is the most expensive Thai massage (not including Chi Nei Tsang, which isn’t the same) I’ve had here, but well worth it. If I can think of a way to fit in another before I go, I will!

Two interesting techniques I’ve learned from receiving massages while here:

Super slow but extreme pressure, using full full body weight at the blind.
Super fast with rocking and repetition until intense at Lek Chaiya.

Wow. Plus some elbow, feet and knee alternatives that will come in handy with a couple of people I can think of.

After that, I had some food then haggled with a tuktuk driver to take me home.

Exhausted & Grumpy

I had a good day yesterday, but the late nights and early mornings are starting to wear on me. It isn’t my choice. I’m back & trying to sleep by 9:00, I’m so tired (often earlier), but other guests are not on the same schedule. Then the staff gets busy at just before 6:00 every morning, starting with an old man who stands next to my window to cough and hack (I looked out to see this time), but moving on to a whole symphony of people and noises: talking, cooking, a child playing, etc. All right outside my window. Thanks.

So I’m getting grumpy.

But let’s hear about yesterday, which was fun.

At breakfast I ran into one of my former ITM classmates. He’s nice, but strangely motivated. After a lifetime as as builder, he’s decided to become a massage therapist. Years ago, he began a shiatsu course which he never finished. He’s here learning Thai because it’s cheap to be here learning. Here’s where it gets weird: he’s never had a Thai massage. Not even in the month he’s been here.

Anyway, we had a coffee before hurrying off to our various schools. Here are some small household shrines on my way:



At class, I very much rocked everything we learned the day before. I practiced on the monk, and she said it was great. Yay! I definitely still need practice, but I really feel comfortable with it.

There’s an older man at school who is taking the beginner course. He’s from outside Kelso, in southwest Washington, although he lives in Ecuador now. I think I forgot to mention the girl from Port Orchard I met last week. Actually, Port Orchard is funny. Every time I travel, I meet someone from Port Orchard. Those people don’t stay home! They’re usually equally surprised to meet someone from Centralia. And they’re always friendly. One time, I met a woman from Yelm at a backyard party in Amsterdam, but she actually seemed grumpy to run into someone else from the region. Weirdo.

At lunch, I wanted a little downtime, but the Japanese girls wanted to join me for lunch and walk. They are very nice, and I didn’t know how to tell them that I really wanted a little alone time. Last week, although I ate with classmates, I usually had a good half hour of quiet time afterwards. We have a two-hour lunch break this week (hard to push on full stomachs), and I’d love to just hole up with my tablet and a coffee. Today I need to run an errand over lunch, so I’ll need to ditch the ladies. Here’s the Mae Ping river, at the Iron Bridge, where we walked:


We’ve been told that coconut is very good to help our detox after abdominal massage, so Coockie gave us all fresh coconuts after class. Yum!


After class I wandered north a bit before winding back towards the center. There were some very peaceful, obviously richer neighborhoods, then eventually I crossed into a very practical area, with furniture shops, hardware, electronics, etc.

Back in the center, I stopped at one of the branches of Lila Massage and Spa. Lila was established by a former director at the women’s prison, for ex-convicts to work after release. Daan had told me she used to work there. It was very nice, mostly very professional. I had the Lila Complete package, which involved:
30 min foot reflexology
30 min back and shoulders
15 min arms and hands
15 min head and face
30 min hot compress.

She sort of thumped me with the compresses, which wasn’t very nice, but otherwise it was good. The abdominal massage includes hot compress, too, and Pare wielded them as I was taught to do.

After that, I was tired. I found an Indian restaurant where I had a delicious palak paneer with saffron rice and garlic naan, one of my favorite dishes, then went home. And was treated to screaming baby and loud stomping until almost midnight. Ugh.

Chi Nei Tsang, abdominal detox massage

My brain might just explode. We started class today, and thank goodness I have massage experience, not just Thai, but also some Swedish and Ayurvedic. It helps!

I did very well in the first half today, because it wasn’t very complicated and I took copious notes while our teacher, Coockie, who is also the boss lady at Loi Kroh school, explained. But in the afternoon, I was the model, so when it came time to practice, I had almost no idea! I had been busy hoping, “ahhh…” the whole time.

My classmates are 4 Japanese women, two very young, a third my age, and the last in her 60’s, a monk. I’m now confused about Japanese women monks. Keiko has had 3 children. Perhaps before she became a monk? Her English is almost non-existent, and it’s very difficult for the other 3 to translate. Theirs is at varying levels.

We went to lunch together, at the Japanese-run guesthouse across their street. I had Japanese food and my classmates all had western food. 🙂 They were impressed by how well I handled my chopsticks, and thought it was funny when I made a mess because the rolls fell apart. It was funny.

Matt wants to understand this massage better. He wants to know, other than constipation, what it helps with. So I will begin to explain (and I will continue to learn).

It is a massage of the internal organs. Today, we worked on the small and large intestines, the liver, the pancreas, the gall bladder, the gall duct, the pericardium (never heard of this before), reflex points for the heart and lungs, as well as the psoas muscles, the lumbar sacral plexus, the pelvic tendon, and the iliacus muscle.

In practice we are stimulating circulation in these areas. We are also stimulating the growth of good bacteria. We are seeking blockages (poop, energy, trigger points, what-have-you) and encouraging them out.

From a philosophical perspective, all Sen lines originate in the navel and extend to all the natural holes in the body. So working on the navel and abdominal cavity addresses the source of problems in the rest of the line.

This massage is quite different from others I do (and yes, there is oiled stomach massage in Swedish, but it is very different). It uses oils on the belly, and as a result the client must be exposed from lower rib cage to pelvic bone, not just the hip bones, but the full round hollow. Or not hollow, as the case may be. When Pare performed it on me last weekend, she gave me a loose tank top to wear, no bra, and used the elastic of my panties to hold a sheet over my lower body, which she positioned quite low. During some parts, pressure is given on the upper chest, or on the sternum, and having salon-supplied clothing protects the client’s clothing from oil stains.

This picture does not show the hips as exposed as they should be. Let me put it this way: the Japanese girls don’t wax. It also doesn’t show just how deep we are pushing. No eating before!!


I think I will need to feel this on many people (like with anything) to really get it right. But that’s true of everything. It’s not very protocol-based, though. You need to know what techniques can be used and where, but you have to be able to feel the things there that need to be loosened.

Anyway, after class I went back home, picked up my clean laundry, and took a shower. Then I took a tuk tuk back to Tha Pae gate. I wanted to try a Nerve Touch massage from Mama Lek’s protégés.

Unfortunately, Lek Chaiya massage closes at 17:00, and it was 18:30, so I went next door and had a one-hour massage.

My masseuse was Daan (or it could have been Taan, hard to tell), and she has been massaging for 2 years. She is recently out of prison, which is where she learned. She was very curious about me. I was the first farang she had massaged who liked hard pressure. Actually, she couldn’t massage me as hard as I would have liked. She needs to work on her body mechanics a bit more. She is using too much muscle strength and not enough body weight, but she did very well. It will come. I have had many far worse massages than what she did, and it was the first textbook massage I’ve had this trip. Really, it was straight out of the ITM level 1 text, with maybe 3 moves from level 2 and 1 from level 3. I was familiar with every thing she did to me, and could feel which ones she got a little wrong (always body mechanics). I didn’t tell her. We had a fun chat.

She was a dealer and addict before she went to prison. Maybe because of the addiction, she was first in a treatment program for a few months, meditating silently with the monks. Then later, 3 days a week massage courses then work, 2 days English, 2 days helping with cooking and cafe. The money they earn they keep for their release, and they have a new career possibility, in massage or restaurant.

Since leaving prison, she is also learning about cosmetics and herbal facial remedies. She very earnestly told me several tricks I tell my own skincare clients. She is very excited about her new life. It was nice to meet her. I wish her success and happiness.

After that, I had a yummy dinner at 3 Sis, on the way home and unchallenging. And now I’m lying in bed. Goodnight! Sorry no pics today!

Sunday in the Park

In the southwest corner of the old city (that square walled bit in the map I posted the other day), not more than a couple of minutes from my guesthouse, is a small park. This park is host to the flower show of the Flower Festival.

So, after Ruesri Datton this morning, I went.

Ruesri Datton was excellent as usual. We had a new student, a man from Japan, probably about my age, definitely alternative. After class, I received my certificate, as well as a small gift from Napa: a beautiful calendar with photos of Ruesri Datton postures. It’s last year’s calendar, but it can be laid out to display only the photos, and is quite pretty. Napa said I’m welcome to join for her classes this week as well, if I have any energy left after massage classes. I will try!!



I have probably achieved my first sunburn today. I can feel it on my skin as I sit in a cafe writing this. I think it’s quite mild, fortunately. I was careful to reapply sunscreen and seek shade as much as possible. (Yep, definitely burned, but not too badly.)

Outside of the park, on one side, there was an atmosphere of State Fair: displays of competition exhibits in many categories, the floats from yesterday’s parade, food stalls, and miscellaneous other vendors formed a long row.




I am disappointed in my fellow foreigners. Every time that I stand at a stall to order something that looks or smells interesting, a westerner walks up and asks me what it is. I don’t usually know. I tell them I’ll tell them when I’ve had the first bite. They seem shocked. Some of them ask the vendor. If the vendor can’t tell them in English, they walk away. I’ve noticed this for days.

Today I had coffee with cubes of black gelatin, then some kind of grilled seafood, stuffed with what turned out to be egg, then dipped in spicy sauce. I think cuttlefish? It was delicious.


Then I drank some coconut water and wandered for a while, finally sitting in the grass to read. When the sun changed angle to reach me, I wandered again, finding another place to read. This second place was just across from a massage stand, so when the sun got me again, I went over and enjoyed an hour foot massage, and a short neck, shoulders and arms massage. Wonderful. She went quite gently, but considering the bruises in lines all up and down my arms and legs, I’m glad. It was nice to have a relaxing massage after all these more therapeutic massages.

After the massage, I was hungry, and I remembered seeing a mango sticky rice stall, so I went looking for it. Near it, there was another stand of strange sea-beasties, this time smaller, grilled, and served with as spicy sauce. It turns out I think they’re the same beasties. Cuttlefish? Awesome yummy texture.


To eat, I sat in a patch of grass by the water. Across were various hippies and theater geeks: jugglers, tightrope-walkers, etc. The tightrope walkers strung a cord between a coconut palm and a fan palm, and everyone got in on trying it, including a group of teenage schoolgirls in uniform. There was a giant dragon floating in the water. It was very nice.



Eventually, I got sleepy and thirsty. There is an air conditioned cafe in the park, with WiFi, and I’m writing this there, where I can still watch the park activities out the window. I will leave shortly.

I was going to head home, but noticed the ethnic dancing exhibition. The first ones were 3-4 years old, but so very elegant, doing their complicated hand motions.


Listening to the announcements between performers, I learned that the flag/banner I bought is called a tung, and is a Lanna (local majority ethnic group) tradition, for celebrations and good fortune.

Here are many of them hanging at Loi Kroh school:


Two Days Compressed

It felt like that, too. After a not-so-great night’s sleep, I awoke and went to ITM. Exam day! I took a different route, which took me past another lovely wat. (Chiang Mai is rather full of wats.)


In order to have time for everything, we began our mantra, warmup, tai chi, and dance routine a quarter hour earlier.

A short note on this. The mantra is a prayer to begin. At ITM we chant it, and at Loi Kroh we sing it. Amazingly, I prefer to sing it. Yeah, I’m surprised as well. These are the words, translation to follow each part:

Om Namo Shivago Silasa Ahang Karuniko
Sapasatanang Osata Tipa Mantang Papaso
Suriya Jantang. Gomalapato Paka-sesi Wantami
Bantito Sumetaso Aroka Sumana-homi

We invite the spirit of our Founder, the Father Doctor Shivago, who comes to us through his saintly life. Please bring to us the knowledge of all nature, that this mantra will show us the true medicine of the Universe. In the name of this mantra, we respect your help and pray that through our bodies you will bring wholeness and health to the body of our client.

Piyo-tewa Manussanang Piyo-proma Namuttamo
Piyo Nakha Supananang Pininsiyang Nama-mihang
Namo-Puttaya Navon-Navien Nasatit-nasatien
Ehi-mama navien-nawae Napai-tang-vien
Navien-mahaku Ehi-mama Piyong-mama

The goddess of healing dwells in the heavens high, while mankind stays in the world below. In the name of the Founder, may the heavens be reflected in the earth below so that this healing medicine may encompass the world.

3x, and this is what I’m supposed to whisper at the end of the massage as well, and seldom do:

Na-a Na-wa Rokha Payati Vina-santi

We pray for the one whom we touch, that he will be happy and that any illness will be released from him.

So. That’s how days begin at school. At ITM, this is followed by a warm up sequence of exercises, then a tai chi sequence, then some very marchy music comes on, and we combine these movements into a dance. I’ve seen all the children, in their uniforms at their schools, do the same thing.

Many of the movements are very graceful, and I think we would normally associate them with feminine attributes. The muscular young men doing them far more gracefully that I can is a shift in perspective.

After this, yesterday, we were feasted. Huge stacks of fruit and mangoes with sticky rice & coconut cream were waiting where we usually enjoy bananas, in the garden. I have finally eaten mangosteen, which is absolutely scrumptious. When I see some in the market, I will buy it and get a picture. I will also need a knife.

We drew numbers for partners, and I was paired with a stinky young backpacker named Sean, from the CAPT class. The CAPT class is basically all the levels at once, including teacher training and anatomy. I don’t embrace the concept because I think you need times to learn in real experiences before you teach. I would like to do it, perhaps, but I am quite unimpressed with the students in that course, in general.

Sean, however stinky, was an easy model for my exam, and I passed. Then we broke for lunch. We went to our same place, but this time it was just me, Bianca and Bert (the two Dutch artists who live in Antwerp). I may have made a mistake in choosing the mussels from the selection. They didn’t taste “off,” but I know that they’d been in the selection all week, and most other things had been replaced. Actually, they were delicious.


After lunch I received a massage from Sean, but his smell and the deep abdomen work combined to leave me feeling queasy. After, I found myself in the WC over & over while we waited for the certificates ceremony. When the school’s director called my name, he had to call it 3 times. People had been talking and laughing after the person before me, and I had my eyes closed, trying not to vomit.


After school, I went straight back to the guesthouse, and to bed. I slept for 5 hours, then woke up around 21:00, then fell asleep again, aside from occasional disturbances, until my alarm went off this morning at 06:30.

So today, I went back to Loi Kroh school. I love it there. It is so peaceful, and feels so warm & welcoming. There are more mosquitos, though. No closed buildings, lots of beautiful plants and water gardens, and no airco. I really still prefer it. ITM feels a little like a factory, and very much a beginning of one’s massage learning, but not an ideal ground for growth. Or so is my first impression. I was very impressed by the teachers there, who were very knowledgeable, but less by the students, who for the most part felt like tourists, rather than motivated professionals.

My stomach, which already felt better, was even more normal after 3 hours of Ruesri Datton with Napa. I felt so peaceful. Tomorrow is review. I will go through the book, pose by pose, and do them as well as I can, and she will correct me when necessary.

At noon I went away for a while, but no lunch. Pare was going to give me an abdominal detox massage, and she advised that I eat afterward. So I went and sat in a cafe for a while, having one coffee.


I am SO excited that I will be learning this massage next week. It was flipping amazing. It hurt, quite a lot sometimes, but it also felt so good! So clean! I felt like a paragon of health afterwards, like everything had melted away.

I am writing this while waiting for the Flower Festival parade to begin, and it has been a couple of hours since that massage. I still feel amazing!!! Hopefully I will be more able to describe it while I’m learning it next week. I think it could be done with slightly less pressure for new western clients. I don’t think that level of pressure in those places will be very welcome until people are a little more accustomed to it. I’m used to deep massage, and there were moments when I was truly gasping. Pare has excellent bedside manners, though. I felt very trusting in her hands. I’m glad she was my masseuse for this. The other teacher, who would have done it for me last week, seemed a little cranky. Probably just that day, but I’m glad it worked out this way.

So, here are pictures from the 38th Chiang Mai Flower Festival, brought to you by the Province of Chiang Mai and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.











And now I’m off to bed!

Sleep deprivation

Everyone is tired today. The class isn’t making any jokes. Everyone is just staring drowsily at Alain, our teacher.

For most, it’s for a similar reason as for me: noisy noisy co-inhabitants in our guesthouses. For some, it’s jetlag, homesickness, up too late, or a combination. Anyway. I have a killer headache. After class, if I haven’t heard back from Loi Kroh School by email, I will need to go there and ask about the class next week. Otherwise I have to call Pichet tomorrow to make arrangements for next week there. Either way, I have to know tonight. After that, I’ll go for a massage and dinner then bed.

I can’t wait.

I skipped the practice this afternoon. I went one time through all the oldest stuff & the newest stuff with my lovely partner from South Africa, who was very easy to work with. I feel not perfect, but adequate. It will do for the test. I will do my homework tonight and relax. Good energy and well-rested is a better way to prepare.

So I walked a different route around the city to Loi Kroh School. I always get lucky with walk up food. Best coffee shack yet. Awesome. Best prices, too.

I shelled out 15,000 baht (3x the cost of most massage courses) for the Abdominal Detox massage course. I’m super excited. This week, working the Sen lines at ITM just made me want even more abdominal skills. Most of my classmates complained about abdomen work, but I love it. I’ve been using it more and more frequently with my clients in the past months and have had very positive responses.

So the upcoming weeks’ schedule is as follows:

Tomorrow (Friday): exam Advanced Sen Lines at ITM
Sat/Sun: finish Ruesri Datton at Loi Kroh
Mon-thurs: Abdominal Detox at Loi Kroh
Thursday afternoon: rent motorcycle for rest of trip
Friday: drive to Pichet’s to observe/ ask permission to join next week
sat/sun: Pregnancy Massage at ITM
Monday-Friday: Pichet or if I can’t, then Advanced Elbows & Knees at ITM
Saturday: fly to Bangkok, meet up with Matt at gorgeous-looking, highly reviewed historic Chinese mansion
Monday: go to Koh Chang for one week
Monday following: return to Bangkok
Wednesday: fly home.

You see that Monday to Monday stretch on Koh Chang? That’s my vacation.

Here are some pictures to amuse you. I’m sorry for the quality of visual content this week. I’ve just mostly been sitting in a classroom.


That’s my bedroom. The rug is the entrance to my WC. The window opens onto the kitchen. But I’m only paying 450 baht per night.

Here’s a delicious snack, seaweed sesame crackers:


And here’s a store made for Dick Willems:


All helmets and guitars. 🙂

Here and there

I’m writing this the next morning. I was too tired last night. So let’s see. It was a pretty good day yesterday. I woke up and walked to school, stopping for steamed bun and coffee on the way.

I worked with a woman from Montenegro. We didn’t talk much. At lunch a couple more joined our lunch group. During afternoon free practice I worked with the Irish girl, Emma, from level 1. I ripped my hippy pants, though, so we stopped early.

After, we went for some food. Then I went walking for clothes. I bought 2 new fisherman pants, a T-shirt, a jacket, a blouse, and a dress. I needed the fisherman pants & T-shirt for class. I packed almost nothing, since I have very little for warm weather & it’s cheap here.

Then I rewarded myself for successful errand with a lime icee and a tiny mango ice cream on the wonderful terrace of 3 Sis B&B. I’m totally staying there next time. They have lettuce for beautiful plants.


After some hotel planning (bangkok & koh Chang), I wandered south to Chiang Mai Gate to pick up bamboo sticky rice for breakfast. I think that’s the best place for street food in town. If it weren’t so inconvenient, I’d eat there every day.

Here are some maps. First, my route to Loi Kroh School.


Then, a route, which I will try today, to ITM.


Then, a map of the old center of Chiang Mai. The blue dot is where my guesthouse is.


Learning the ropes

Actually, that’s a bit of a misnomer. Today I didn’t feel like I was learning the ropes so much as settling in, but that doesn’t have quite so nice a ring to it.

At my guesthouse, what would normally be a nuisance is turning out to be a boon. That is, the fact of my window being open onto the kitchen is becoming useful. My mornings are, by necessity, quite early. My alarm goes off at 06:30. I can take it easy until about 07:00, though, which might lead to falling back asleep. However, the kitchen starts getting noisy at 07:15 at the latest, leaving my best option to get moving and get out.

This morning I changed route to ITM just slightly, and found a lovely steamed bun place open on the way. This took so long, however, that I didn’t have time to eat it there, so I figured I would eat it when I got to school.


Then I passed a Wawee Coffee (Thai Starbucks), so picked up a small one, also to go. I was so happy to have discovered these options, however, that I made a slight error, failing to cross the road and the moat across from Wawee. Had I done so, I would have been right on track for ITM, but the way I went, I ended up circling all the way around to the first northern gate then doubling back to the corner to go north on the street I needed.

I was on time, but barely. No breakfast, then, until after morning mantra and warmup exercises. Oh well.

During our free practice hour, after the break, I discovered that I can remember the entire sequence without error. While the teachers corrected many others, who also needed their books, they merely nodded at me. Yay me. But to be fair, I’m the only one who has been practicing professionally already for a while. Everyone else is either a) learning it all in one big go now (doing class after class in one trip, so has only just begun), b) did it years ago but hasn’t used since, or c) did it years ago, but has only used it for friends, occasionally, and is now thinking of maybe more.

This was important for me to realize because yesterday, due to 2 strange factors, first that I speak Dutch and made the acquaintance of 2 Dutch artists who live in Antwerp (group C of list above), and second that I have a doppelganger, I ended up working with an obnoxious know-it-all Belgian guy of group A. When you are new but serious, you tend to learn everything as gospel. You don’t know that there are many ways to do the same thing (“same, same, different”). This guy is learning that now, in his first class with people who have longer-term experience. Although I’m the only one in class that has practiced Thai massage professionally for some time, there are several people in group C, and they, like I, learned from other teachers. Further, we learned from a different version of this school’s textbook. So yesterday, the teacher would say something like, “do level 1 stomach,” and I would do it. Belgian guy would get agitated and insist it was wrong. I would ask how he learned. He would explain, and I would say that I preferred my way (mine was more efficient, less moving around). He would become angry, call the teacher over. Teacher would see my method, say, “yes, that is another way, but too complicated for beginners, so you learned easier way,” which made Belgian guy angry. Then he would start expounding that he learned his way and this was the test way. Teacher would overhear, and say “no, both OK for test!”

The point is, yesterday made me feel constantly under attack. It happened over and over.

Today, I worked with a lovely young woman from Bermuda. Did you know that Bermuda is nowhere near the Caribbean, but actually much further north, basically on a level with South Carolina? Apparently its a very common misconception. This young woman is a professional masseuse and beautician, but otherwise falls into group A. She has previously only a beautician’s massage training, and is learning Thai massage for the first time, a whole bunch all in one go.

She was willing to learn and willing to let me practice, and that was just fine.

For lunch I joined my usual lunch group at the little family-run stand around the corner. Usual! Only the 2nd day! Anyway, it’s the Dutch artists, an Irish girl (also beautician/massage therapist) in level 1, and a Thai girl from Phuket, also level 1. Nice group, nice place. Super cheap: plate of food with rice and choice of 2 things from the daily selection, free water, plate of fruit, and cup of soup= 35 baht, or about 50 cents. Yesterday it was 42 baht.

After lunch I did my coloring homework in the school garden, where these are:



Side note: I’m confused. Where I’m sitting now, there are 2 separate tables of elderly tourists, on one either side. Both groups keep switching back and forth between Dutch and English. Weird.

Lessons end at 15:00 with student-led mantra then announcements. However, after that is more free practice time until 17:00. I made plans with the Irish girl to leave together after for dinner and more practice, but the practice room was full, so I ended up practicing upstairs with a level 1 Brazilian who lives in Australia, and I think the Irish didn’t know I was up there. She probably thought I ditched her, because I had just missed her when I came down to go. Oops.

Anyway, I walked back to the guest house, dropped my things off, and am now sitting in my 2nd cafe. At the first, I had a delicious pad siew, Matt’s favorite, although it had been made tourist-mild, so I had to add lots of chilies in vinegar, but I love chilies in vinegar, so that’s just fine.


Statues on a wat wall:



A man on the street stopped me to ask if I knew about the parade and fireworks tonight. Apparently it’s a two-in-one, a celebration for the boys being initiated as full monks, and the 350-year anniversary of Chiang Mai. Thai people are starting to crowd the street where I’m sitting, with cameras, so perhaps I’ve chanced upon just the right spot! I just have to wait another 45 minutes. That’s going to be the challenge. I’m sleepy!

Nope, it wasn’t tonight, but will be on the 14th. Good to know. I will plan on it. I had a nice walk instead. The city is so busy at night! I walked for as while with a québécoise man whose eye has been blackened during a scuffle in Bangkok. Nice guy, I think he would have liked to have as drink, but I wanted to head home for a little Ruesri Datton practice before bed.

On the subject of men, actually, an observation: I see a lot of foreign men with Thai partners, male or female, but very very few foreign women with Thai partners. Why is that? Many Thai men are quite good-looking, and many are tall. Many are tall AND good-looking. I spoke to a fine example of one of those this evening, in fact, which is why I started wondering. (Intelligence and good personality aren’t as visually apparent, but I’m sure they’re just as represented as in any other population.)

When we took our cooking lessons 3 years ago, the teacher’s ex-wife was English and current wife Chinese. So i know these matches also happen, but I’m just not seeing as much of it. Food for thought, as it were… Food. Hahaha. Bad joke. Sorry. Goodnight!

Now it really begins!

It’s very very lucky that I woke up before my alarm again this morning, because THIS morning it didn’t go off. Or rather, it did, but silently. I needed to leave by 7:30 this morning because registration was at 8:30. I wasn’t sure how long the walk would take. It took 40 minutes. Honestly, I can’t decide if I should keep walking, because the exercise is good for me, rent something for transport, or take a truck or tuk tuk, at least 1 direction. I think that last option sounds best.

So. Today was my first day at the original ITM, which is the school through which I’m certified, via their Amsterdam affiliate, Thai Hand. It’s a very nice building, but really far from me. Crossing morning traffic out of the center was insane. Here are a couple of pictures from the way home, and it was lighter then. No crosswalks, very scary.



None of those vehicles are stopped, or even slow. Just for your better comprehension.

So, class. Well, truthfully, my head is a bit full, so I’m not sure I’m up for full descriptions today. It was good. I’ll explain better next time.

After class, so after 17:00, I wanted to be massaged at the women’s prison, but it was closed. So instead I found a patio and had a light meal. I wandered into a way and photographed some Buddhas.




Then I went to the blind massage place again, but had to wait 30 minutes, just enough time to drop my stuff off at home and come back.

This masseur wasn’t quite as awesome as the one the other day, but I was also his last client for the day, so perhaps that’s it. It was still very good, and I came home after instead of going out to sit somewhere and color my textbook, which is homework.

My grandiose plan for this evening was:
2 hour massage
Pick up bamboo sticky rice for tomorrow morning
1 hour coloring and blogging while sitting in a cafe
1 hour practice Ruesri Datton
Shower and bed

In actuality, I decided my hair also needed washing and my nails were too long, so this is what happened:
2 hour massage
Long shower and hair washing
Nail filing
Facebook reading
This sub-par blog entry

I’m exhausted. I’ll try to do the blogging right after class tomorrow, so that I have energy to write it!