Two Weeks in Chiang Mai

My second week in Chiang Mai passed rather similarly to the first with the addition of quite a bit of friendly fun!

Class this week was focused on techniques for a client lying on their side or belly, and sitting up. A lot of the techniques were very similar to the ones from the first week for the prone position, with small adjustments for the position change. Along with a number of new techniques. It remains a great practice and a wonderful massage that I look forward to sharing it with many people! The teachers were just delightful and entertaining throughout the whole two weeks, and they topped off our time with a great little graduation ceremony.

Now, onto the rest of the week which you will find undoubtedly more interesting (unless I’m actively giving you a Thai Massage).

Most of the fun that I got to get up to this week was mostly in the Buak Haad Park in the southwest corner of the old city square. I’ve had a ton of fun playing with my hand balance practice, AcroYoga, and a little bit of slack line play. Two particularly special moments in the park this week. Early in the week I went to the park to meet up with some friends, who turned out to be a little late, and while waiting a tall Italian dude came up and asked if I was into acro and wanted to fly. He was a great base. Then, in the middle of the week, late night in the park, a group of AcroYogis showed up from their week long retreat/workshop a little south of the city to the park for the acro jam time which was supposed to be going down then and there. Nobody else was really there jamming, but I managed to build up the courage to ask to join in. It was so worth it! I played with a couple of them, and they were awesome. Took one of them through ninja star roll, star, reverse star, and some therapeutic fun. Then she flew me a bit in reverse star (my first time!) and worked on some four step to near success. Also got to fly and play with the friends I’ve been playing with from the massage school, and its been terrific to see them progress in just the last week! The best part of the night, though, came when another stranger came up to ask to play with us. She was an individual with an extremely bright spirit. So eager and excited to learn new things! Earlier in the evening she tried slack-lining for the first time with a Thai Massage friend. Then, she came up to us flying and slightly shyly asked if she could join us having never tried anything like it before. Obviously, we happily consented. I got to be the one to fly her and it was just magically joyful as she lit up with her first, slightly terrified, time in the air. Just took her through bird, throne, and a side plank. Simple, each a little more challenging, all fun, and all of them bring a big smile to your face. It was a really beautiful reminder for why we do this, why we play this way. So much fun!

Wednesday night, and through out the week, I and some other massage students have been trying to try Mango Sticky Rice dishes from as many different stalls restaurants as we can. Partially, with the goal of finding the best Mango Sticky Rice in town, but mostly to just eat a LOT of Mango Sticky Rice because it is incredibly delicious. The sweet, melt in your mouth mango, the slightly salty sticky rice, the sweet and creamy coconut milk, and, occasionally, the crisp and crunchy split mung bean bits sprinkled on top. A simple, magical dish. Everyone’s got their own preferences, but, for me, the best has the rice should be cooked with coconut milk served hot, or at least warm. The mangoes here are all amazing – green or yellow and ripe – but there are some different varieties, some sweeter and some a little more tart. Again, all good. Always. A little tart does make a nice contrast, some other flavor beyond just sweet. I like it then fairly bathed in coconut milk and definitely sprinkled with the crispy crunchy mung bean halves for texture contrast. The key is the mango, though, definitely. Our findings, otherwise, show that street stalls offer a much greater portion of mango for lower price – gotta love me some street food.

Thursday night, the school took us to an annual party to honor all of the Thai Massage teachers of the city (which, it turns out their are many). There were some dance performances, speeches and blessings from the teachers (heads of schools), and lots and lots of food that each school brought. Best surprise, for me, was the Rose Apple, a fruit I hadn’t had before. Similar texture to an apple, but a little softer, with a waxier skin, and more mild taste, shaped more like a cylinder with one bulbous end.

Saturday became an afternoon and evening of great adventure. The morning was spent simply and pleasantly enjoying a cafe with a really cool and lovely garden. The food was tasty, too, but it was really nice to sit somewhere cool and green for a while. Then the rain started to threaten, which was worrisome because we had afternoon plans for a bike ride down to the “Grand Canyon”. Fortunately, it only rained briefly and cooled off the air, which ended up making the 15k bike ride significantly more pleasant. But, a single gear bike is still not the best option for a 15k ride, except for just how flat the land is here. The ride went surprisingly smoothly, except for one little incident.

The screw that gave me a flat.

The screw that gave me a flat.

I got a flat. Of course without any sort of measures to fix it on our own (four of us went). Luckily, I noticed it right in front of a motor bike shop which pointed us back up the street to a guy who had cycle shop. Of course, by cycle shop I mean a garage with a bunch of tires and inner tubes, a compressor, and all kinds of tools that you need for fixing bikes. 20 baht and maybe 5 minutes he had the inter tube patched a refilled with air. Boom, just like that. Even better, the rest of the ride went smoothly. The “Grand Canyon” is a quarry here, now full of water.

The "Grand Canyon" quarry near Chiang Mai

The “Grand Canyon” quarry near Chiang Mai

The water is quite warm for a quarry, at least compared to US quarries. It was perfect for swimming. Plus, there are platforms to jump off of. It’s a cool place. At the quarry, we met up with some other massage students who house/pet sit near the Canyon (the internet is an amazing place). When the swimming closed down, we rode our bikes a few k back to their house for a yummy pad thai dinner they made, and then rode back to town noticeably after dark. It was a great fun night!

Planning to make it up to Pai early this week before flying out too soon, but not too soon. Talk to you in a week once I’m home, ciao.

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