In the past week I’ve been decompressing.
“Decompressing? What do you mean by that?”
Well, kind of like a diver, who’s been under high pressure, has to slowly return to the “top,” I too have been rising step-by-step, a few feet at a time, heading to that place called “normalcy.”
“What the heck is *normalcy?” I have no clue. But I can feel that I’m just about there. I think it’ll hit me upside the head when my friend for over 30-years shows up this evening at her own doorstep. (Remember, I’ve been crashing at her beautiful Bangkok pad while she’s been slaving away at her demanding job in Singapore.) She’s practically a sister (even though it’s been almost 9-years since I last saw her in the flesh). Anyone who backpacks across Europe together and uses each other’s feet as pillows while sleeping on a train (in order to save the cost of a hostel so that there’d be money for food) is family. And family has a way of bringing you back into “normalcy.” Yeah, you get it now. I can see it on your faces. (don’t ask me how, but I can) : )
So what have been the decompression stages? (oh, that rings just too, too similarly to “and what are the lesson plan stages?”)
Well, first there was celebrating with friends. You saw the shot of me with my renegade certificate. You saw the glow of relief on my face. Here’s another shot from a birthday party the following day with my new ex-pat friends.
The beautiful blonde woman’s husband was celebrating his 50th
Yeah, pretty cool “Miami/Bangkok Vice” bday cake.
And somewhere in there was: watching movies. What movies? I have no idea. That wasn’t really the point now was it?
And lots of meditating. “Meditating?” Yes, meditating. If that word makes you uncomfortable, just plug in “praying” instead. And if that makes you uncomfortable, just plug in “sitting or lying quietly and giving thanks.” ‘Cause I gave lots of thanks that the intensive course was over and that I passed. And yes, of course I gave thanks for plenty more than that . . . but that was the first item which bubbled up to the top.
And then there was shopping. Yes, shopping. I went to the huge and legendary Chatuchak market at the end of the BTS line. I didn’t follow the advice of the guidebooks and go early. It was about 1 p.m. on Sunday when I arrived. “It’ll be too hot and crowded!” all the guidebooks state with such confidence. It didn’t deter me one bit from having fun.
My first stop was at a massage place just by the art area. For 150 BHT (remember, a dollar is worth about 30 BHT) I had a foot and leg massage; it was heavenly. And I sat right next to the fan, so the temperature was pleasant.
I had a rough sketch of a shopping list imprinted in my head: rubber slippers, a skirt that goes past my knees (for when I teach in Cambodia, it’s one of their rules), and white clothes for Kundalini yoga .
(which btw are currently pink and hopefully less so as they wash again with lots of bleach added! Being the tomboy that I am, I threw in my fav red t-shirt I got for my birthday from my big sis–it says on it: “Not all who wander are lost.” Tolkien said that apparently; yeah, I like it too. I’ve had the shirt for over 6-months. I didn’t think it’d do its thing! But it did, not too heavily, but still. You’re supposed to wear white when you do Kundalini yoga. Is slightly not white but slightly pink okay? I’ll let you know what I find out.)
Somehow I managed to maneuver my way through that massive, massive market and return to my “starting point,” find the route to the BTS and head on back home. It was a grand day.
“What’d I see at the market?” You name it. And I’m serious. Fine art to cheesy crap. (Literally, this woman was throwing down these amazing plastic things, which would almost immediately reconstitute themselves into their original shape. And yes, one of them was, um excuse me, crap!)
There was clothing of every style, shape, color . . . things for dogs, puppies, lots and lots of puppies, yes, live puppies . . . beads, jewelry, food booths . . . musicians, a boy bouncing a soccer ball almost non-stop on his head, knees and feet . . . this is your chance to plug in a n y t h i n g . . . I betcha it was there!
And then came the yoga (in the then white clothes). I managed to go several times this past week; it was very, very enjoyable. It’s nice to have met some more people who live here. “Where are they from?” you ask. The teacher is originally from Canada, several ladies are Thai, one lady moved here from Korea, another from the U.S., another from France, and one lady is passing through who is from Austria. She graciously offered to put me up if I visit Vienna; sounds like a wonderful gesture, doesn’t it?!
This was followed by hanging at the pool
with other CELTA trainee women. We had a lovely afternoon flipping through stacks of English language women’s magazines, which were in the apartment when my new friend moved in. We visited and ate lychee, chips and rambutan—followed by lunch at a local Thai place.
About this time I decided to take my role as a tourist much more seriously and go explore Bangkok! Wednesday I headed first to the Jim Thompson museum followed by a stroll along the adjacent canal. (That was how one used to enter Mr.-former-CIA-agent-turned-entrepreneur-who-single-handedly-brought-Thailand’s-sinking-silk-market-back-to-life’s home during its hey day. Boats still travel along the canal at amazingly HIGH speeds!)
Then I went on a search for a jewelry shop that would fix my turquoise/citrine bracelet that I had broken (for the 2nd
time!). A new friend and savvy shopper told me to just keep walking down the same street where the school is and I’d find a place; I did. They gave me their card and the receipt showing the deposit I made, but I also took a picture of the store and street signs . . . just in case. One way or another, I’ll find my way back to this very same store! (BKK is really, really big, if you haven’t been here before, but yes, of course it has street names and numbers like anywhere else . . . ).
Then I hopped in a tuk tuk and got taken, uh, I mean I driven around town.
First stop was a “friend’s” store, second stop was the Golden Buddha,
third stop was another “friend’s” store, and the fourth stop was the pier, where I hopped on a boat (which runs like a bus going from stop to stop).
***This was the highlight of my non-school portion of the trip thus far! I paid 19 BHT (remember $1-30BHT) for a “round-trip” ticket, i.e. I got on where the BTS stop is and went to the end of the line and back for 19 BHT (it’s normally all of 14 for a “normal” ride one-way). From 5 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. I sat, listened to music and enjoyed being on the water. It is so very, very healing to be on the water—even if it is full of trash and is “chocolate.” It was still very soothing. I did have to hop off at the “first” end (along with a large group of Chinese kids who rode both ways as well) and get on another boat for the return trip. We had so much fun watching a storm come in, complete with thunder and lightning. Fortunately we didn’t get too wet before the side-walls were lowered.
You could see through them, but I chose to stand in the back where I had an even more clear view as the rain continued to fall and the sky slowly darkened. It was sooo much fun. A group of kids from Germany happened to stand next to me, and being the responsible people that they are, they kindly told me the names of some of the wat (temples) along the way.
Yesterday I continued to take my role as tourist seriously and headed to the National Museum for one of the two English speaking tours of the week. It was interesting . . . my Mom’s code word for alright . . . a way to be polite in her genteel Southern style.
The kind tour guide from Brooklyn certainly loved to talk and had lots of stories. On the tour I also met a young Swedish gal who’s heading to Burma for a month where she’s working on her master’s thesis on the Karen people. Now that was really interesting.
Next, I went wandering past the Grand Palace (just wasn’t up for another tour) and made my way to pier #8 and the ferry across the Chao Phraya River to Wat Arun. This was another big-time highlight for me. It was so much fun climbing the steep stairs on the outside of the temple up and up to two different levels. There’s ceramic all around the temple that I was told by a friend was part of the ballast added to ships (which were returning home empty after having shipped other items to China). You can read all about this temple here: http://www.watarun.org/index_en.html
. I took a zillion pictures here, so I’ll do a post with just pictures from there.
I followed that with a delightful lunch at a local dive right on the water and adjacent to the ferry; the food was very good. I heard lots of different languages while I ate (besides Thai). I met South Africans and heard Scandinavians.
Then I wandered through the flower market where I was obviously too late for purchasing flowers. It was still intriguing to look at though. The sheer number of stalls and wares sold throughout Bangkok is mind boggling, well, at least for this Kaua‘i-girl, it is.
From there I managed to find the pier by the Memorial Bridge and head on back by boat to the BTS (skytrain) stop and home.
As I’ve done my meandering through this charmingly chaotic city over the past 5-weeks, I’ve stopped and snapped a shot whenever something caught my interest. What interests me (really interests me) isn’t exactly the type of shots that they want to show you in guidebooks. Also, I’ve noticed that with all the pollution here (i.e. lack of blue sky and unobstructed sunshine) that it’s more of a challenge to take a picture that isn’t swallowed up into a harsh lack of contrast. I’ve done my best to include only pictures that I imagine will have a semblance of appeal for you. Some were very obviously taken just for me; those are the ones that you’ll shake your head over and say, “What the?”
Next to follow will be loads and loads of pictures . . .
Best wishes for a great Fourth of July weekend! To my friends kayaking to Miloli‘i, I wish I was there also. If you feel me in the breeze, stop and say hello! In the body, I’m heading to the River Kwai with my gal pal; we’re taking a jungle raft adventure trip (even staying on a floating raft for the 2-nights). Should be fun; I hear it’s beautiful! Looking forward to breathing some none city air : )
* per the dictionary in my computer: Normalcy has been criticized as an uneducated alternative to normality, but actually is a common American usage and can be taken as standard: : we are anticipating a return to normalcy.