12 June, 2011

One Week ... and Change

I have now been in Thailand a little over one week. It's already going by so quickly. I feel like this place is sneaking up on me. I was having a really difficult time getting into the rhythm of my visit here for most of this past week. I had been enjoying myself well enough, but wasn't feeling any kind of real connection to the culture, or to myself in it. I tried researching what adventurous activities I might participate in while here, hoping that would help me get excited about this part of my journey.

During this time I was also having a somewhat heated debate with my body. I wanted to dive in and really enjoy the food of Thailand en masse ... in all its spicy, ricey, noodley, sugary, fruity glory. And I wanted to enjoy all that food with lovely wines. And I wanted to go out for drinks should the occasion arise. These are things I enjoy. However, my body seems to have other plans for me here. She wants to eradicate this candida that has been running around unchecked for far too long. She wants to get healthy. She wants to exercise and stretch and feel good. She wants to be radiant and vital and alive again. And She can be very persuasive when she wants. After every delicious meal I devoured, and after every glass of wine (or gin) I imbibed, I began to feel worse and worse. I was still taking my Anti-Candida herbs, my probiotics, my Para-Free tincture, and my ume plum balls, but it didn't seem to be helping. In fact I started feeling worse. And I kept getting a little worse every day until about Thursday. Thursday wasn't great, but it was a noticeable improvement. My nightmares are still happening, but I started feeling less tired. My breath was a little sweeter and my armpits didn't get nearly as funky as they had been all week. Even my bloating seemed to be lessening, though I would prefer it to lessen even more.

It was improvement.

I believe this improvement happened for two reasons: 1.) My body was simply purging a little more efficiently during the "worse" days thanks to the aforementioned medications, the intense sweating that happens when one walks anywhere in Thailand, and the daily Thai massage work; and 2.) I made the intentional decision to make my time in Thailand about healing and self-care rather than adventure.

Self-care is a recurring Life Theme for me. I am a classic healer type: I focus all my energy on helping other people feel good and find balance without devoting enough time and energy to doing the same for myself. It seems ridiculous that, knowing what I know, I could allow myself to be so unhealthy and so uncared for by the one person over whom I have control - my Self. So, I find this lesson is facing me yet again. It is time to take care of me for a while ... well, hopefully, forever.

In retrospect I can see that this lesson has been coming to me in whispers for quite some time now. In fact, I feel that the seed of this lesson was the catalyst for the selling of the house, etc., and even for this journey into the world. I have been feeling within myself a kind of gentle tugging drawing me back to more spiritual and healing practices and studies. Back home I was able to ignore these whispers in the midst of all my self-imposed busy-ness, but here the quiet voice has become deafening.

In the spirit of this healing awakening, I have decided to book myself some detoxifying and relaxing spa treatments. I am planning three visits, each to a different spa, for a series of treatments. Some will be the more traditional relaxing fare of oil (table) massage, Thai massage, and facial. Others will be more aggressively detoxifying treatments like colonic therapy, herbal steams, infrared saunas, and exfoliation treatments. I am really excited about these spa days. And what's even better is that a friend from ITM (Thai massage school) is also interested in doing these treatments with me. I'm not sure we'll be doing all spa days together, yet, or just one or two. I am planning on visiting Spa Mantra, Janrawee House, and the spa at Tao Garden Health Spa & Resort. I will, of course, write all about my experience so you can join me during my healing process (and vicariously enjoy some spa treatments from home).

Friday was the last day of our Level 1 course at school. We learned the positions and sequences during class Monday through Thursday with opportunities to practice independently after class each day. On Friday we each had to perform the entire sequence while we were examined by the teachers. I passed with no real difficulties, but I did gain a real appreciation for having had prior massage therapy training and a natural affinity for the work. A couple of the other students were really nervous and uncomfortable about the testing. But, everyone in our class passed. Monday is the beginning of Level 2. I'm looking forward to it. I have really been enjoying school. I've made some really lovely friends there. Of particular note, I have befriended an American woman named Charlye, a Dutch woman named Eugenie, and a British woman named Sapphire. Although, I like everyone I've met there so far. It's a very special place, and I am really looking forward to putting these new skills to practice. Mom and Dad are going to get lots of bodywork when I arrive on Pohnpei - with their permission, of course!

Since school started I haven't been spending as much time with Patricia. (Patricia is the French woman also staying at Chaba House.) She has been going out a lot and sowing some wild oats while on "mothering sabbatical". (Good for her!) And I've been mostly petering out after school. We did have a light dinner together on Monday night, I think. Then on Tuesday, she was gracious enough to treat me to dinner at a French restaurant in the Old City: La Terrasse. The proprietor is a French man who has lived in Asia for many years. His establishment is very nicely decorated, and the food is delicious. (I did NOT restrict my diet this night!) We shared some tuna carpaccio and pan-fried prawns. Then I had a duck confit leg (YUM!) that came with fried potatoes and lardons. I washed it down with a lovely French Merlot. For dessert we shared a black chocolate mousse and a frozen Grand Marnier souffle. My mouth is watering just typing about it here. It was an excellent meal to appoint as my last big hurrah before limiting my diet. Thank you, Patricia!

Other than that, things have been fairly quiet. I walk pretty much everywhere I go. Oh, and in a previous entry I mentioned that it took me an hour to get to school on foot. That was erroneous. It only takes about 35 minutes. Mr. Pathom did give me a bicycle to ride. I took it to school one day, but it just caused me more stress trying to figure out the flow of traffic on a bicycle that wasn't my own. So, I've been hoofing it ever since. I will, on occasion, take a song taew (red cab) or tuk tuk, but mostly I walk. Today was my longest city trek yet. I walked all the way to the far side of the Old City square in search of a yoga studio I read about online. (I got there only to discover that they are closed for renovation and vacation until July. Boo!) Then I continued on out of the Old City toward an area near the Night Bazaar where a health food store is located. Sapphire had given me a little flier for the store, and I was eager to check it out and get some groceries. It was a pretty small place with equal parts packaged goods, herbals/medicinals, and natural beauty products. I got a few things I needed there, but had to go to the Tops Market (supermarket) to get the rest. I did, however, get a natural beauty gift bag with a full sized facial scrub, facial mask, mineral water toner and foot mask for just over $10. Score. Although, this is how it is here. The dollar goes a very long way. (This is also how I'm able to book three spa days for myself!)

I got groceries with the intention of cooking my dinners at the guest house. I have, however, found a few nice places to eat lunch. One place, which was discovered by Patricia, is just around the corner from Chaba House. It is called Chef Peak's Kitchen. I believe Chef Peak studied cookery in France before opening up this little restaurant. He certainly knows his way around a curry, I can tell you. Everything is made fresh to order. Very good as well as very convenient. Another little jewel of a discovery is the "buffet" style eatery just around the corner from school. I say "buffet" because the menu changes daily, and they keep the dishes under glass so you can choose what you would like. It is run by the cutest little man and woman. I have no idea what the name of the eatery is ... or if it has one, nor do I know the names of the proprietors. Charlye, Eugenie and I went there one day for lunch, and the chef/proprietor was so accommodating to all of us with our weird dining requests: Charlye is vegetarian; I am gluten free. He doesn't speak any English, and none of us speak Thai, but he managed to understand what we wanted and served it to us with a huge smile. As we were near the end of our meals, I tried to use some of the VERY limited Thai phrases I have learned to tell him that it was delicious (aroi)! Then I told him I was finished (set lao), and was full (im). He seemed really pleased that I had tried to speak to him in Thai, (despite my lousy accent, I'm sure), that he brought us out some fruit for the table. It was the pink spiky fruit called Rambutan. (It's very similar to lychee.) We, of course, were very gracious, and ate it up quickly. Then I asked him for the check (cape tang). My noodle soup with a gorgeous fried egg added on top was only 20 baht! That's just under 70 cents! So much delicious food for so little money. We all left extra gratuity for him, and that pleased him as well. The next day we went back and brought along Sapphire and Joel (a French guy in our classes). The proprietor was so happy to see us again. He brought us two platefuls of fruit this time: mangosteen and sala. Both were delicious! And Sapphire, who speaks a little Thai, was able to talk with him a bit. Apparently he doesn't even charge us the full price because he likes us. We will definitely be going back there next week ... many many time. (This is a phrase that our instructor uses, well, many many time!) Another place we have become fond of eating (and drinking) is Satva Yoga. It's a tiny cafe + shop with a yoga studio upstairs. It's run by a gorgeous and super kind Thai woman. She only serves breakfast and lunch, and all the food is vegetarian and very healthy (and delicious!) She also makes amazing juices fresh to order.

So, that's my weekly roundup. After my long walk and grocery shopping, I just came home, tidied my room, gave myself a shower and a facial, and did some computer work. It's raining now, and the rhythmic sounds of the falling water are making a lovely percussive beat for the songs of the frogs, geckos, and other exotic animals I hear everyday outside my windows. What a beautiful symphony. I think I'll sign off and immerse myself in the dreaminess of it all. Bon nuit!

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