Letters from Thailand 2012 (Geni flies solo), part 4

July 11th

For those of us that strive to maintain a healthy life style while watching our diets and with regular exercise, unless an avid yogi, Thai Massage Therapy could be complimentary component. Needless to say massage is ubiquitous in this country and is preferred over most other forms of exercise including yoga! It's pretty difficult to find a full spectrum yoga studio in Bangkok.

I am studying traditional Wat Po Thai Yoga Massage Therapy as an only student under the instruction of Jing and Tom of which offer 25 years of combined experience. The philosophical theory of Thai Yoga Massage Therapy is similar to that of Ayurvedic Massage which is based on the life energy channels and the belief that a person's health and wellbeing relies on the balance and flow of our own life's energy? Likening to a regular yoga practice, when Thai Yoga Massage if applied properly, can help to decrease blockages and increase the energy flow bringing into balance body, mind and spirit. A huge added benefit is that it also assists in a journey towards more flexibility. So, just in case you may have been wondered why I have been in Bangkok besides falling in love with the Thai culture that could be a large part of it ;)

I wasn't sure what I was searching for when I opted to travel alone. Initially I had thought perhaps it was because I had never had really flown solo, or it could have been because the past year had dealt me some not so welcoming hand of cards. All that now aside, this has become a wide open door offering endless opportunity for experiences and friendships. There is such a lesson in treating folks the way you expect to be treated...with respect and dignity. It can be "oh so unfortunate" (that one's for you, Bank), that this does not always translate in our day to day interchanges and possibly within our own family dynamics. When traveling though, this is a valuable tool to have tucked away in your back pocket. Now that's how you yogis should be thinking anyway ;)

Morning hours with the teachers have proven to be wonderful and the comfort level is running high. For the past two days, I have decided to stay local or close to the catacombs. Meandering the alleys and streets, getting massages and view shopping (that's what the Thai girls told it was called here as opposed to window shopping) the outdoor markets can be an overwhelming experience. Life in Old Bangkok appears to be on a twenty four hour moving carousel ride...except for the guy sleeping on the other side of the alley from Madam Joe's who hasn't moved since my arrival. I honestly have been wondering.

Yesterday, I was astonished that I had not noticed the majestic temple at the end of Kahn Son Street which spans about four square blocks. I'm the peaceful oasis which offered a great deal of solace in the middle of this circus ride.  The soft streaming echo of monks chanting from the temple, pulled me through the heavily golden laid doors only to join devout practitioners in a meditative practice. I sat for about twenty minutes and then sheepishly exited the scene when I realized that I had been sitting in the temple sleeveless and in shorts. Covering shoulders and knees is protocol in temple, and I was feeling a little naked as I made my way to my little Havaianas at the bottom of the grand marble steps.

As I continued my exploration, there was a whole new world to be had existing in the allies around the temple. I'm not sure of the zoning regulations here, but anything seems to be permissible. Ten outdoor vendors within a ten foot radius seems very typical. But today I found a added delight in the mix of goods, an official Muay Thai boxing event. This is not my passing fancy by any means, but I did take some pictures for you, Leith! A very chatty gent from Belgium was sitting next to me as we watched the alley boxing debate. I wasn't so sure why he felt the need to tell me that, "it was a good thing we were too old for this sport" as he gave me a 'you know what I mean' smile. Departed from that bench shortly thereafter.

Today, my teachers gave me a special treat...over three hours of Thai and fresh herbal massages. I hadn't worked that hard in a long time (at least since I've been here...involved a great deal of moving and bending). I was feeling more limber and detoxed, even more so than after a two hour hot yoga class with Maria! Tomorrow we will be visiting Wat Po which is the temple that holds the original ancient scriptures documenting the birth of Wat Po Medical Thai Massage, and then to the market where we procure the proper herbs for treatment and application in massage therapy.

Although tomorrow is my last day of class, Madam Joe (being short for a very long Thai name by the way) had the underground posse track me down as I was tucked away in a seedy little joint making email connections? She was so excited as she babbling only in Thai (because she does know a bit of English...sort of like when Ricky can't control only speaking in Spanish when overwhelmed with Lucy) that my certificate had arrived from The Thailand Ministry of Health. No, I am not going to skip my last class tomorrow despite the early honorary presentation. 

Heading to Kanchanaburi tomorrow which is river town located north of Bangkok. Looking forward to a reprieve from the crazy business of the city! 

Kanchanaburi is infamous for the Bridge on the River Kwai which was erected during the construction of the Burma Railway during World War II while under Japanese occupation. The town is chalked full of history and natural beauty while located at the foothills of a fabulous mountain range.

And by the way on a quick note, I am reading a great book, "Classic Indian Philosophy" by Somparm Pomta. It's a comparative perspective that discusses the disciplines of the world in relation to their ethical views. Although the book is chalked with so much to ponder, I love when the author notes T.D. Suzuki as saying, "the West talks while the East keeps silent." Doesn't that seem to ring so true?