Tuesday, January 6, 2015

First Monday in Chiang Mai

Monday we started some of our regular activities while we are here. Dan headed off to the nearby park to meet up with other pickleball players. The game is just getting started here, but there are a few resident ex-pats who are meeting up a couple of times a week. I've always wanted to do Tai Chi, and there is a school (Body and Mind Healing) within a 15-20 minute walk. The tai chi meets weekdays from 10 to 11, a perfect time for me (I do like not hurrying off in the morning!).

On my walk I passed a Thai boxing studio.

I got to the school quite early, as I wasn't sure how long it would take me. There was a class in Chi Kung from 9 to 10. I glanced in, but couldn't tell exactly what they were doing. I sat on a bench in the courtyard, and gradually more people arrived.

Fountain in courtyard

Entrance to the school
There was a dog barking madly in the yard, which put me off a bit. A young woman came out of the house side of the building and pulled him back. His tail wagged all the time and he actually was somewhat friendly. [I have a fear of unknown dogs, based on the time a friendly-seeming dog at someone's home bit me in the calf.]

The class was very enjoyable. There were six of us beginners and two more advanced. The latter two mostly practiced on their own, with occasional help from the teacher. He was very good and we worked through a number of beginning moves. We traded partners frequently and it was interesting how different people had different energies. I think this is going to be very good for me. I bought five classes and intend to go every day this week. After that we'll see. All the class members were foreign travelers.

On the way back, I passed by the IDI school of massage, which Ming La had recommended to me. I went in and asked if I could have a session with Paew (pron. approx. "paw"). The man at the desk said to come back at 5:00, so I did. It was quite a session. This was not a relaxation massage, it was therapy. She started with my feet, telling me that back problems need to be treated from the bottom up. In addition to kneading and rubbing, she used a kind of scraper and even a wooden hammer with another piece of wood to gently pound on my muscles. She worked her way up to my back muscles. [I feel quite fully recovered from my back surgery just over a year ago, but I have lingering aches in my back, probably due to the muscles there having to work in different ways than before. Also much of the fascia around my muscles has tightened up, giving discomfort when touching certain areas such as calves and thighs.] After each area, she applied hot compresses, which felt wonderful.

Well, my fascia is definitely loosened!! At one point I couldn't stop the tears coming, as it was quite painful. But in the end I felt much better. I *think* this morning my back ached less as I washed the breakfast dishes, but maybe it is wishful hoping. I am going back again this afternoon, as Paew is going away for a week starting Wednesday. Working with her is definitely going to improve my comfort levels (if not during the sessions!).

One of the massage areas; I had a single one
For lunch, Dan and I went to the Smith Residence, our sister building. They have a restaurant in the lobby, which was very good. They also set up various tours; we are probably going to do a day tour to Chiang Rai and the border areas and I will do an all-day cooking lesson at an area farm.

Smith Residence lobby area

Mango lassi with mint and lime–delicious!

On the way back we decided to buy some grilled bananas from the woman we see every day. She stands in her stall from morning until mid-afternoon, grilling these bananas, which looked quite good.

Unfortunately, when we tasted them we didn't like them at all! They were more like plantains, had a kind of crust around the soft part, and had almost no flavor. Someone must like them, though.

Today Dan starts Thai lessons with a tutor at the American University Alumni institute. He did rent a scooter and I had a short ride yesterday. It is a small enough scooter that I can actually get my leg over it, unlike in India where I can't get on. And the traffic here is so much more orderly than India. He says he is glad he is used to driving there, because nowhere else can compare with the chaos; at least nowhere that we have been yet.

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