teaching yoga, studying massage & lots & lots of amazing food!
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|Chang Mai pics|
The title of this blog pretty much sums up my month in Chang Mai. It is known to be a place to study massage & also for its large quantity of amazing restaurants! The old town, which is maybe 20 x 20 city blocks is surrounded by a huge brick wall & moat in the shape of a square - this dates back to the year 1295. Inside the moat is tourist heaven, where you find these restaurants that serve delicious food of all kinds (Thai, Indian, even good Mexican!) - all for about $1-3 a meal! My food obsession has been growing steadily as I am eating out three times a day, but still not gaining any weight! My current guesthouse has no kitchen so no cooking 90% of the meals as I did in Koh Phangan on the island. Here, the food eating makes up alot of our free-time!
Besides that, you can find 101 little massage parlors that give you a full body hour massage for about $5! Can you say 'bargain'? BARGAIN! I must have had 2 dozen since i've been in Thailand. So many, that I decided to learn how to do it myself & if I payed attention while I was getting them, I could have learned to do Thai massage that way! Instead, I choose to go to a 10 day massage course that specializes in "Thai yoga massage", a style that performs assisted stretches that often get you wrapped up like a pretzel, but feel very nice as you cannot do this on your own! The course was 60 hours & included a certification. I will be practicing alot when I get to Hawaii & hope to get good at this series of complicated confangled twisting & torturing, I mean massaging Thai style. It will take alot of practice...any takers to be my model this year???
I came to Chang Mai, number one, to help with the Agama Yoga school that reopened here. I taught about 2-3 classes a week, including some with lectures on various topics of yoga & health. It was a great experience...getting my feet wet in this new career path of the role as 'yoga teacher'. I met some great people who were my 'students', more like peers, who were excited to have this type of yoga in Chang Mai. I did this work as 'karma yoga', meaning volunteer work not paid - for the benefit of the larger Agama school. It just felt good being involved & part of the community here, as opposed to being just another tourist (not to say there is anything wrong with that, plenty of them here having fun). I met other yoga studio owners & got offers to teach in the future! There must be 10 yoga studios or more here as its really an active healthy community!
To escape the urban mini-jungle of Chang Mai's bad traffic & exhaust issue, my Turkish yogini friend Maneesha & I signed up for a two day jungle trek, a pseudo-safari! We chose the walking only tour, instead of all the activities such as elephant rides & rafting, as we both wanted to just get plenty of green time in the jungle. There was a group of 12 of us who walked about 3 hours the first day, had a basic Thai food late lunch of egg fried rice, then hung out at a so called hill-tribe. We had been told we would visit 3 hill-tribes that was listed on the brochure, but were a bit surprised that they were not so spectacular. No ancient people wearing ceremonial clothing playing ritual music or anything like that. Just regular Thai folks (although some come from Burma, Yunnan, Tibet, etc..) wearing jeans & t-shirts, living simple lives in poor villages, in modern times. Most houses where bamboo huts, very basic, but I always noticed that everywhere I have traveled in the world the poorest people somehow have satellite television! Guess it keeps them from being bored (see my photo of guy sleeping watching tv). I reckon they all pitch in to buy this 'necessity' of life. The trek took us to amazing places though, that is for certain. We went to see the elephants, swam at waterfalls & they even let me go rafting for no extra charge! I love white-water river rafting, especially when the rapids are so large that you
feel as though you are really risking your life!!! These were not quite that big, like my other time
doing this in Rishikesh for the 2 hour ride...now that was a thrill! After these rubber rafts, we got onto old style bamboo rafts & I was the leader to stroll us along the now quiet river, using a long bamboo pole to push us along. Fun times...
The next adventure I went on was to visit the famous Tao Garden resort, of Mantak Chia fame. He is an author of over 20 books on Tao, QiGong, sexual tantra for men/women, chi/energy & healing with these things. The center is about 20 buildings, a few meditation halls where they do retreats & workshops, an organic garden, an amazing oasis of a restaurant floating circular building surrounded by a pond, a juice bar, spa & book store. Inspiring place.
Reminded me a bit of Auroville spiritual community in India.
Ineka, you have to check out that place! It is about 100x inspiring as Tao Garden in what is going on there with various projects, workshops, retreats & such. You'd love it!
Yet another fun thing done this week was the Thai cooking class I did with a group of about 8 of us cooking 5 dishes. Woo laa! Now I can cook Thai without those pre-made packets!
A few other things to mention. I went to my first Muay Thai boxing event. About 7 fights, including one with two ladies and one with two 13 year olds that looked like 9 year olds.
I was quite surprised...I actually enjoyed myself seeing these people beat each other up!
Quite good jolly fun! Very contrasting to my yoga classes & lectures on 'Ahimsa', non-violence. But hey, not me doing the beating! Went to the Jazz club after for some live music. Good times & hey Alyssa..thanks for being my travel buddy that night & those few days hanging out enjoying this wild town! Then, my fantasticly free-spirited friend Squishelle showed up from Vancouver and we rented a scooter & proceeded to scoot up the mountain side to Dui Suthep Buddhist temple -one of the most sacred in this area which has over 500, so thats saying something!
Very nice up there and a view of the whole area. We attempted to hike up to the top of the mountain which was a 2 hour hike, but by 5 minutes into it a dramatic downpour began! After hiding under a big tree for 20 minutes or so, we boogied on down to a campground area with sheltered tables & made fruit salad lunch. Then off to visit another 'hill-tribe' about 15 minute scoot from there. Thats where we found this mysterious slanted hillside hill-tribe toilet!!! What is the meaning of this? I know Asians prefer these squatting style toilets with no seats, but...hmmm...this one is slanted at vertical angle & out in the open on a trail? !@#?
Now, I sit here at my humble guesthouse, with an amazing view from my 'penthouse' suite balcony. The mountain in the background is where I just mentioned we were.
I am preparing to leave Thailand after 6 months here. In 3 days I will be landing on Maui to make a new life in the Land of Aloha Hawaii. It has been a dream since I first visited in 2000, but even longer as I was about 16 & begin thinking I could be a surfer & live the beach life in a warm place. I am soooooo excited! A wee bit disoriented - after 22 months of the past 29 months spent traveling this big beautiful round globe of ours! I feel my mission has been accomplished. Mission complete. Time for this space cowboy to lay down some roots! I aim to find a home I like that is beautiful, with a shared big garden & fruit trees, possibly eco/alternative home with solar panels & off the grid. I have a few offers already from friend there who found some places for me, and Craigslist searching. Wish me luck! I really crave having a home I can stay in for a few years. Ideally build a simple eco-home & deluxe yurt if I can get involved with some shared land with a few other people (maybe even my dad). I look forward to getting involved with this new community in different ways such as teaching yoga, volunteering & offering workshops (I have the founder of Agama Yoga booked to do a workshop on Tantra in October - first of many!). I most likely will be taking the 12 month evening part-time Maui School of Therapeutic Massage course beginning September. That will give me 650 hours, a license to do massage in Hawaii & get me employed in yet another new career path for Adrian's life shape-shifting.
Man...no wonder i've felt a little disoriented lately. Traveled mostly solo to 15+ countries, only home 7 months in 2.5 years, moved all my stuff back to America to a remote island where I know one person and changing careers all at the same time. I read somewhere that stress is almost always a factor when people change jobs, or relationships, or move to another city or country. Or a death of a loved one.
I've experienced all of the above!
But i'm flowing in the direction I know I am meant to go.
The direction of the Heart.
Following the Heart.
Centered in Now.
In these changing times on Earth.
From birth, to the ending, never pretending to be alive!
I hope all my family & friends, aquaintances, travel buddies, ex-lovers & all my relations
are guided towards health, happiness & wholeness and enjoying life in this moment!
Drop me a line & let me know what your up to!
Blessings from S.E. Asia's 'Land of Smiles' Thailand,
ps. I just got word that a travel article I wrote about yoga in Thailand is getting published in a travel magazine & website! woop woop! Small pay, but along with that other piece in the book "To North India With Love"...its another sign to keep writing! They may put some of my amateur photos in there to.
oh and...here is a little video from the Muay Thai boxing event!