Thursday, 5 April 2012

Two weeks in Thailand

What a fabulous trip with no email, no writing, no blogging, no phone - and I didn't miss it for a moment. Always nice to return home but as nice to be away.

I had two days in Bangkok and I used the time to do a lot of walking around checking out temples. I bought a map of the city and did some good mileage between the Grand Palace, Khaosan Road, the Golden Mount, a food market and a half dozen other temples. Two days was enough.

Loads of buddhas (interesting to learn of the seven hand gestures), cloud trees in the Grand Palace gardens, deep-fried chicken heads and necks (top centre) and other sights.

Khaosan Road at night - taken from bus as we were leaving Bangkok
A bus and ferry trip took me overnight from the city to the island of Koh Phangan (pronounced ko-puh-nung - ko as in 'cough').

Koh Phangan
I stayed in the quieter North-west of the island in Haad Salad. I was booked for a Thai massage course so I made this my base so that I could walk to class. I got to the island on the Sunday noon and started the course the next morning, finishing 10 days later - straight through the weekend (all days are very much the same here, whether weekend or week day). Over this time I did a few runs, a yoga class, and acroyoga session, three cooking classes and I went to a festival thing at a recently opened temple.

The rest of the time - lots of reading.

I loved the massage course - so much to learn and remember. Very rewarding. I'm now in practice mode and needing bodies. Take a number - the queue is long! After the course I went for two Thai massages (different places) to compare what we learned with what is done in practice - I prefer what we learned ;) Athicha is good, really, really good.

My massage class (photo unfortunately out of focus).
Back - Taki (Leslie's husband - he was a 'body' on our last day).
Front: Tanya (she did the class previously and lives nearby - she was a 'body' for us on most days), Leslie, me, Athicha (our teacher) and Pasha. Photo taken by Athicha's long-suffering husband, Ted, who was also a regular 'body'.
View of Haad Salad from Athicha's place. I stayed down below, almost on the beach (to the right of the photo).
I didn't run as much as I thought I would (only four one-hour runs); although I did a lot of walking around every day.

I didn't do as much yoga as I'd intended. A guru dude (Sri V. Sheshadri) was out from Mysore, India (home of Ashtanga) for two weeks (exactly over the time I was there) so instead of being 300 baht a class (little over R100) it was 1000 Baht (R400) a class. Craz-e! I went to one class (the one guy I know said, "Come, come" - but he didn't say the price so I went thinking it was 300B!). Class at 7am was packed - about 35 students.

Sheshadri is totally charming and I'd be hard pressed to find anyone on this planet who didn't take a shine to him immediately. I thoroughly enjoyed the class; one was enough for my budget. Yes, yoga is indeed all about money, just like so many other things.

I also attended an acroyoga session - I do so enjoy acroyoga.

I did one cooking class at a cooking school. Very neat and tidy and professional (  A highlight was definitely the trip to the market in town to get ingredients.

The three dishes that I made at MyWokandMe, with Chef Oi. In the back (purple plate) is a stir-fry veg with tofu; next is a phad thai (traditional and popular dish) and in the front, deep-fried fish cakes - the first time in my life that I have deep fried anything!
I did another cooking class with Jang (she has a small restaurant) just down the beach in Haad Salad from where I was staying. This was one-on-one with her (I was the only one there on the day) and we made four dishes. I cooked in her restaurant kitchen and learned so many little tricks. Fabulous. Two nights later I went there for dinner so Jang asks, "Do you want to cook your own dinner?". We chose something and she taught me how to cook it. A total treat and superb fun.

And then I went back to My Wok and Me for a 'fruit and vegetable carving' class with Chef Oi. Helluva tricky. I spent five hours there! I was expecting some simple, novelty-type carvings. Not a chance! These were difficult and complicated.

I took the melon and watermelon 'home'. I gave the melon to the sweet lady that I bought a fruit shake from every day, after massage class, to use as a display; and I shared the watermelon with people at the place where I stayed.

Would I be able to replicate these again at home? Oh goodness! I bought a melon this week to carve up this weekend so we'll see...

I spent two weeks sweating non-stop! Hot and humid. It's fine if you're sitting still, in front of a fan, but if you move... The route up to my massage class was a walk along the road and then a steep stairway up a steep hill. By the time I got to the top I was drenched and would sit in front of the fan for five minutes to dry off!

Five-minute walk - lots of sweat!

Not quite as good as we have here but still fun to catch for photos in the evening. The sun rarely touches the sea as it usually disappears behind a bank of cloud.

It was a good trip and I really needed the time away for a good break, which this was. Nice to have learned a number of new things and to have had a lot of time to walk around, read many books and to enjoy a number of afternoon naps. Just right.


Staci said...

Welcome back!
Fantastic sunset pictures. Love the fruit and carvings, trying to work out what the white one was. Hope the melon carving worked well this weekend.

Andrew said...

Glad you had fun and a good break. So I take it you also must have used your photography classes to good use.

adventurelisa said...

Thanks for your messages.

Staci - the white one is a gourd - part of the squash and melon family. I've seen it here in China town. It's a veg and must be cooked. It's a light green on the outside and white on the inside. I haven't yet attacked my melon - it's on the cards for later today ;)

Andrew - I didn't take many photos at all, especially of the island. But yes, the course certainly did help when playing with exposures for the sunset. Interestingly, I tried a time exposure for a night scene on the beach where there were lots of lovely lights. Even though the camera was on a solid cement wall, the photos came out fuzzy, even at four to six seconds. There must have been some kind of vibration on the beach? It did work for a time exposure I did of where I was staying, barely 100m off the beach. Odd eh?

adventurelisa said...

Staci - correction; the green-white one is the gourd. The very white, smaller 'flower'... Chef Oi called it a turnip but it isn't a turnip. I think it may have been a Chinese Radish. Long, white. This was a cross section of it that was turned into the flower.