Thai Massage Circus 2/11/16

The door fell off my bungalow but, David fixed it.  The morning course was rather difficult with spinal twists and hip movements.  All of the hip work is pretty intense.  When we were working on the QL someone missed and pushed down hard on my floating rib that had been broken several years back – I cried after that and promised a swap back that probably won’t happen but, that’s ok.

Mali worked with me in the afternoon and we were playing around in Gecko pose.  I have not yet worked with the same person twice in massage. There are about 30 people in the class so its possible to work with everyone a couple of times.

All of the meals were delicious again.  The kitchen is a giant bungalow open air.  I have no idea how they make the food so awesome.  There are two refrigerators and they store all our drinking water in barrels under the kitchen.

The locals take the laundry into town two days a week but it takes too long to come back and I didn’t bring enough to use the service so I am still washing in the river.

I have started to read the manual for the circus and its very entertaining so far.

Today the german phrase was : What is for breakfast = Vas kip ist sum fru schtuck. (probably not spelled correctly). OISHI is the Japanese word of the day.

Fire spinning is definitely happening tomorrow.  I worked it out with David and it will be at 7pm.  It is the same day as the sauna and I’m excited to do that again.  David and I talked about the logistics of how to set it up and it will come together quite nicely.

Whatever was bothering me after lunch (broken rib irritation) has passed but the feeling o being on a boat remains.

Chatted at length with Marty tonight.

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Additional notes:

David is the general handy man at the circus.  He is usually walking around through the circus with a hatchet in hand and a bounce in his step.  When I first arrived he was working on the constructing a drain pipe for the sauna.  He is the go to guy for fixing things at the land.  I should note also that he is always wearing the baggy Thai style pants and is allergic to shoes.

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Thai Massage Circus 2/10/16

The morning starts with 1/2 hour meditation followed by playful yoga for one hour.  The teacher – Baba – is very funny and helpful. This morning’s class we reviewed the previous days work.

I admitted to my partner that I had a biopsy and had not told anyone or spoken about it since I left.  They old me that their grandmother had passed three days prior.  We shared stories, built trust, relaxed and felt better.  We share a good practice.

After the morning practice we went over some of the moves that were more difficult.  Khao ran over my feet-cheeky little dog.

The people on the land say she will probably only live a few months because no one owns her and when we leave the locals will probably eat her.

p.s. there are no drains in the toilet or shower floors, the water that misses the toilet travels toward the river.  The whole structure is slanted for this to occur.  Its kind of gross to walk through so I wash my feet after and plan to get sandals in town on Saturday.

Sometime this morning I finally arrived.  All the headaches and body pains evaporated.  Thank God!  Its so beautiful here.  I’m getting more and more adventurous as time passes. Planning a fire show.  Everyone is so patient and forgiving of one another – I think it has something to do with the language differences.  All conversations are slower, much slower than at home.  I love body workers too they are very conscientious of their touch and in general more gentle.

I am so grateful to Arno today, his knowledge and expertise is so valuable, totally worth the price of admission.

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Laos Country 2016

Thai Massage Circus, Laos 2/9/16

The land is beautiful here.  The camp is set between two rivers.  You cannot escape the sound of the rivers.  The water is very soft and buoyant.  I have been washing my clothing in the river in the mornings.  I brought just enough clothes for two days before ending to wash.  It’s an amazing ritual to wash in natural flowing water.  You can see the circle of dirt collect and dirt returned.

After washing I hang the clothes on my bungalow’s window.  Its a very small room made of bamboo and built on a raised platform.  I picked the one closest to the garden.  They grow a lot of food here.  Every day i see the Lao gardener tending to the plants.  He is wearing American clothes and I wonder about his life.  How did he come to be a gardener?

I am very slowly learning Lao, Thai and German.  There are so many different languages here and so much time, its good to practice and hear the language and have it corrected on the spot.

“Ich bin fier und trisand yarra alt” is the phrase I learned tonight.  I’m sure it’s not spelled correctly here.

I should mention the toilets since they made the news today.  They are squatting toilets like India.  Better for shitting, that’s for sure.  We are not to use toilet paper and put it in the toilet, we are to put the toilet paper in the basket.

To flush, there is a garbage in with water and a cup.  Lastly there is a small spray hose for cleaning your butt.  All of this is new to me and very interesting.

The showers look like the one at the hostel but day 1 was ice cod and day 2 was not much improved.

Tonight they had a sauna instead of a bonfire.  It is a homemade sauna, the engineering is pretty amazing.  It looked to me like they built a coal fire under two oil barrels that were filled with water.  The barrels are connected to the sauna room via pipes.  It is very hot and raised my core temperature back up.  Much needed after the last two nights.


Additional notes:

The spray gun had been dubbed a “bum gun” by a fellow circus goer.  After the first two days of trying to shower in icy water I determined it was easier to jump in the river, soap up and jump back in to rinse off.  I did that for the remaining days at the circus.

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Bamboo hut in Laos

Luang Prabang, Lao 2/7/16

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Journal:

The first thing that stands out in Luang Prabang, after its epic beauty, is the motorbikes.  Seems everyone has one.  There is a minimal amount of street signs – I have yet to see one that indicates a road name.  The vehicles pass each other and ride close without signaling.  There are no cross-walks.  I love it because it is so different.  I’ve always felt that people back home don’t pay attention anymore because we are so coddled by all the street signs.

The place is dirty – garbage and dirt, construction and general disorder – not at all like home.

The thing I love the most about this city is the people are TOGETHER.  They’re out in the street walking, talking, working TOGETHER.

There are no skyscrapers and the gigantic river roars past just off the city center.  This feels so much more real than being at home ever has.  The only thing that comes close is living at the trailer park when I was young.

This morning I’m awoken by sounds of people showering and venture down to write and have tea.  Breakfast is included as well as coffee and tea all day long.  I have most certainly thrown caution to the wind and dover right in.  Last night I took a shower in what felt like unclean water, ate food from the open market and paid less mind to sanitation.  It feels so liberating to be out of the sterile environment in the US.  I’m just grateful that my home near Brady Street is basically the American version of this (if you add police and a lot more people).

Roosters are crowing all night.

This place makes me wonder what we gained in civilizing ourselves.  I am also very curious about the Vietnam side of the Vietnam war – the people here are so kind and generous.

A dog from the street has come up into our hostel’s outside dining area and begun to quietly beg for food.  A very cute dog, if a little banged up.

Luang Prabang smells like a firecracker.  A mix of motorbike exhaust, campfire and strange food smells invade the sense.

I had completely forgotten about the biopsy until the shower – it brought a wave of sadness and remembrance of the last day in the States.  I feel somber about it – stuck somewhere between a statistic and my own head.  (Had a biopsy done the day before leaving and it was a bit rushed but came back benign).

I am in love with this place but, being here and living here would be two very different things.  Sitting and enjoying the sun play on my face has me thinking again about the life I really want to live.

In this moment everything seems so perfectly set in place.

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Additional Notes:

There were two journal entries with the same date but a different location-Not sure what happened there but they’re both being posted regardless.

The trailer park where I grew up was in Lake Geneva and it had rolling hills infant of a pine forest and a secret hidden gravel pit complete with old broken tractors.  It was what I’d call an Idyllic outdoorsy childhood.  All the neighbors knew each other and we would have our own community holiday parties in the summer.

Thai Massage Circus, Lao 2/7/16

Journal:

Still not entirely sure what to expect on this adventure.  The morning enjoyed a homemade omelette at the hostel – its included in the stay.  Then ventured out to find the Mekong river and book on Lao.  Did not find either, got lost and then went into a volunteer organization that directed me to a school “Big Brother Mouse” where they have free english classes.  Spoke with a gentleman “Lam” for a while about the classes.

Then ventured to find food – a delicious chicken sandwich.  Also bought a beautiful Lao handcrafted blanket to help stay warm at night.  Juggled for a bit in the market and drew a crowd.  A lady and gentleman said I could easily teach classes to the local people and make a living that way in Luang Prabang.

Found the bus to camp easily – many people were going.  The ride was about an hour.  At camp I napped – nothing really happened the first night.  Missed a delicious dinner but still ate.  Joined the fire circle and the dog came over and laid in my lap “Khau” like sticky rice but not like “cow” but they sound the same.  I’m now writing by candle-light.  My little bungalow has no running water or electricity.  I absolutely love this! Can’t wait to see what its like when it warms up.

You can hear the rivers from  everywhere on the land.

Additional Notes:

The dogs name is pronounced Cow – oo .  One the last day of the retreat someone pointed out that the dog’s name was actually “White” not sticky rice but the words sound similar.  Sticky rice sounds like cow and white sounds like cow oo.  But when you say sticky rice/cow it’s not flat, you raise up and down during the vowel and cut it short. For white you raise up and extend the oo at the end for a bit longer.

The bus ride was in the back of a pick up with a top on it…they’re called Tuk Tuk’s.  There are different sizes with different names and they go for various rates. The circus had pre arranged Tuk Tuk rides for the days off.

The land is on the way to the Kuang Xi  Waterfall so it is very easy to get a ride to/from the circus and Luang Prabang.  You just go to the main road and wait for a Tuk Tuk and flag them down.  Some of our group took free rides with other tourists.  Some of the circus goers were even brave enough to thumb motor bike rides.  The motor bikes are not taxis in Laos like they are in Thailand.  In Thailand they have special certifications to taxi on the motor bike.

Luang Prabang, Laos 2/6/16

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Journal:

The flight was only an hour.  The airline did NOT feed us scorpions – fish in a hot sauce with coconut like yogurt.  The staff was friendly.  As we came in to land the view was breath-taking.  Jungle on the mountains with the Mekong River cutting through them.  I’ve seen these mountains before in my childhood home – the pillow cases my parents had.  And they hung paintings of Laos on the walls of our trailer.

I hadn’t hit the ground yet but I was already in love with the place.  Grabbed a cab with several other foreigners – we all agreed we had been totally ripped off on the fare price.  The cab was a beat up minivan.

The driver took us to Backpackers hostel and I offered the other half of my reservation to a french girl who is also doing the Thai Circus and lost all her money in Chiang Mai (Thailand).  The hostel was full so we were escorted by the owner’s daughter to another one and shown our room.

I locked up my bag and went for a run while there was still daylight.  I jogged the craggy streets along the Mekong river and magically found the hostel again after 30 minutes.

I introduced myself to a couple playing cards and asked to borrow their phone to text home.  It was really funny because the phone was in Swedish and kept autocorrecting the english to indecipherable hilarity.  We laughed hard and I said goodbye as they headed out.  Then a shower. (Little did I know it would be my LAST hot shower for a month).

Not quite hungry yet I ventured out to find a towel and dinner.  Came across a massage parlor and was totally drawn in.  I received a massage similar to what i give and tipped the lady 25% which was around $1-$2 Us.

After the massage my bones were a bit chilled so a fire drew me in and I joined a small group.  We chatted for some time and the older gentleman offered me a beer and I sampled it.  They suggested I call my clubs a religious thing to avoid having them confiscated by customs.

The market was going to close so dinner was a chicken on a stick and a strange but delicious pancake.  I will elaborate more on Lao in the morning… for now the boys wish to sleep.

The two french gentlemen are appalled by the temperature 70 degrees!

Additional Notes:

The cab ride was supposed to be 50,000Kip per 3 people but we each paid 50,000.  (That’s about the equivalent of $5 – much cheaper than a taxi would’ve cost back home.)

That first night I got lost trying to find the hostel again.  Somehow I got turned around after the massage. Thankfully I had a map, however I failed to get the name of the hostel before leaving it so I ended up combing the streets until I figured out where I was (lack of road signs) and from there headed to where the majority of the hostels were located.

When I initially arrived at the Bangkok airport they searched my bags and confiscated the small scissors from my sewing kit and inquired about the juggling clubs.  I have learned since that it’s kind of amazing to have travelled with so much Kevlar.  Most airport customs won’t allow it into the country (or so I heard) but, I had hand stitched wick covers for the clubs before leaving.

Total number of wicks travelled with: 7   – Contact Staff (2) – Poi (2) – Clubs (3)

All of them were covered.

The return trip seemed even more risky though because they’d been soaked in some pretty intense Lao Lamp Oil and smelled like a gas station.  Thankfully there were no “Lamp Oil” sniffing dogs at any of the airports and all the tools have made it back safely to the States.

Bangkok, Thailand 2/5/16

Journal:

4am I woke to a group of japanese children fluttering in and shopping at Suvarnabhumi International airport. I went in search of a city map and a deck of cards.  The cards have beautiful pictures on them-places I might one day like to see. At first I was collecting for my mother but now perhaps I will keep them for myself and get her another set.

The air here smells muggy and dirty – similar to florida but trade the lizard egg smell for burnt rubber. 32 degrees C – I’m told that translates to 80F.

After getting a boarding pass and learning some more Thai phrases from the linguist at the check in desk I ventured to the Bangkok airways long.  I say hello in Thai, they don’t seem to notice – perhaps we are all very tired.  They hand me a wifi passcode and wave me through.

The waiting long is stocked with what looks like an impression of American snack foods – I sample one of everything – twice at least.

Throughout my 12 hour stay I sample each drink and alternate between sleep and reading.

An old couple from Britain tells me of their adventures in Bangkok which inspires a lengthy internet search and map plotting adventure.  That comes to a close with obsessively watching juggling videos and scribing notes on which tricks to drill while in Laos.

Exhaustion supersedes most of the previous spiritual rumination – but there is still a background noise of wonder towards all the people who don’t speak english.  It seems that all our lives are very similar still.  Everyone has a cellphone, there are wifi phone zombies everywhere.  People sleep wherever they cane and smiles are still universal (as well as gestures).

I attempt to feel and intuit those whom I don’t understand but it seems they’re mostly passing the time talking about nothing.  The same that I am doing, texting updates to Sarah via Voxer.  Curious what kind of snacks we will receive on the flight – hopefully not fried scorpions!

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Additional Notes:

I made the mistake of filling my water bottle from the fountain at the airport.  It made me ill for a half a day and the flight was a bit woozy but it wasn’t too bad.  Later I learned that the airport has really really bad water.  That was the only time where I accidentally drank anything other than bottled water.

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