A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about dancing

Pink Granola

Helping and healing in Chiang Mai

sunny 90 °F

It's amazing how quickly 5 weeks of your life can pass you by. It seems like just yesterday that I was whisked away to the bus station on the back of motorbike, streaming tears as I waved good-bye to Micah. Now, I'm excitedly awaiting our reunion in India! There has been a bit of a problem getting my visa so I'm actually meeting him a week later than originally planned. In the meantime, I'm spending my time in Chiang Mai with a completely open schedule and nothing but rejuvenating, "me" time to kill. I woke up this morning and proclaimed to my roommates that I think I'll go meditate with the monks today. Chiang Mai is a "Pink Granola" girls dream. (The alternative is brown, dirty, hippy granola. Micah is borderline brown, I'm pink...with a few sparkles.) The city has a surplus of yoga studios, body and energy workers, temples to meditate in, vegetarian restaurants, and an endless number of shops to fully stock your fisherman pant wardrobe. I now own 3 pairs when I swore to Micah that I would NOT become that traveler! It's seriously like living in a dream world. I can fully understand how people pick up their entire lives and thrive on the expat energy here. It's magical.

I officially graduated from the 150hr Thai Massage course at TMC last Friday. Our last few days were spent practicing for our final exam and completing an internship at the Children with Special Needs Center. The experience at the children's center is one I'll forever hold in my heart. We started the morning studying different types of cases and discussing what massage techniques would be most beneficial. All the while, the children were peaking their heads in and out of the doorway, peering at us with excited anticipation. We were each assigned a child and informed of their specific conditions. I was given a 7yr old boy with Autism and ADHD. He was by far the most active and rambunctious child of the group- the karmic repercussion of the endless amount of energy I had at his age, I'm certain. He didn't stay on the mat for more than 30 seconds at a time. I had the help of an aid to keep his curious mind occupied while I worked on his restless feet and legs. Her novelty soon wore off and he was wanting to run all over the center. I attempted to pour as much love and calming energy as possible into his body's perpetual state of fidgety motion. At one point, we both became frustrated as the aid was practically holding his squirming body down. I felt so much sadness for his tireless, agitated spirit. I asked her to let him go for a few moments and he quickly scooted to the front of the mat with his back facing away from us. I watched as he sat completely still for 2 min and then suddenly crawled into my lap with the most loving hug I've ever received. As he sat nestled in my lap with his head on my shoulder, I worked down the energy lines on his back. In all, I probably only got in about 10 minutes of massage, but it's amazing what 10 minutes of having love poured into your body can do for the soul. I knew it made a difference when his tiny hand wouldn't let go of mine as he led me around the center to curiously gaze at the rest of the relaxed children as they received body work from my classmates.

Lunch time brought on a new world of excitement. We returned from the cafeteria to discover the children all dancing to popular Thai songs. My "Miss Joanie" instincts took over and I soon had a small group off followers. It felt amazing to be dancing in a group of children with such a wide range of mental and physical disabilities. We're all human and share the same love of body movement. It's so deeply ingrained and instinctual. It becomes therapeutic when we're able to turn off our sensors and let it out. Our frustrations, stress and worries manifest themselves into our posture, gestures and daily movements. It shows up in the form of tight muscles, tension, headaches, diseases, etc. You can visibly see the healing transformation of movement when you witness a child with a disability dancing. It's as if their troubled, earthly body is able to match their loving, soaring spirit for a brief moment in time. It's a shame we can't all let our self consciousness go and cut lose. It would save $1000's of dollars in therapy!

The entire day was full of successes for my classmates, the children and myself. I went home and was forced to have good cry because my heart was exploding with so much love and happiness.

I'm making the most of my last few days in Chiang Mai. I've had many wonderful, life changing experiences here. I'm excited to carry them with me and see how it enhances and changes the rest of this bucket bath.

To book your discounted "Pink Granola" Thai Massage click the Pay Pal link below.

$30/ 30min, $50/1hr, $75/1.5hrs

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My TMC diploma at graduation!

My TMC diploma at graduation!

Some new friends at the Children with Special Needs Center

Some new friends at the Children with Special Needs Center

Lunch time dance party!

Lunch time dance party!

Posted by bucketbath 23:29 Archived in Thailand Tagged children life love dancing thai changing energy special yoga journey body massage movement soul therapy needs cry adhd karma autism tmc instict restless Comments (2)

A Very Merry (Ladyboy) Christmas

It was a cave of lust. Past touts hustling massages and ping pong shows. Past crowds of men - Western, Middle Eastern, Asian – with arms snaked around Thai dancer’s bodies. Down a dark corridor on the third floor of a nondescript building in Bangkok’s Patapong Red Light District it waited.

Thailand sweats sex. From beautiful Thai women to condom vending machines in public bathrooms, sexuality churns through Bangkok’s musky air.

Women in skimpy bikinis with subtlety arousing or garish makeup beckon. Pouty red lips, hourglass curves, swollen breasts and long legs that reach heavenward like Babel’s tower.

A place where night’s shadow blurs the boundaries of sexuality into a sticky haze.

Cascade. The lady-boy bar.

Venturing inside, the Madam, a woman with a powdered pale face, severe bangs and prominent Adam’s apple escorted us to our seats. Joanie, myself, Shannon (our friend from New York), Scott (an old friend of mine from Ohio who now lives and works in Bangkok), and a few of his friends watched the 15 or so bikini-clad dancers undulating on stage.

Travel is a place to push boundaries (not necessarily physically, but psychologically and philosophically) as this night would prove.

A gamut of beauty presented itself: some tall with long flowing hair, others short and chestless, some buxom. Despite the diversity, all had one shared characteristic: at some point in their lives, all were men.

I watched the club’s other patrons and wondered if they also knew this.

Gender lines seem blurred in Asia. Men are often effeminate and much more affectionate and comfortable with the [platonic] physical touch of other men than Westerners.

A middle aged Asian man sat a few feet away and glowed as 2 dancers talked and entertained him. He was smitten by Aphrodite’s elixir, but did he know Aphrodite was a man?

Origin seemed unimportant and antiquated at Cascade. The now mattered, the rare immersion into the moment. A luxury our frenetic lives rarely permit or allow us to afford – who knows at what cost?

Travel forces us into moments of introspection and (often) to grope to understand ourselves as individuals and as a reflection of our environment.

There is no comfort zone for retreat, only the slight refuge of a hotel room where the sounds and smells of the exotic world outside still penetrate.

A loud bell rang and the club’s lights went on. The dancers left the stage for the dressing room (that was on the way to the bathroom and had no door).

A few remained on stage and I thought of Chery Tiegs, and her iconic poster the 70s, a tantalizing icon of beauty and perfection.

It wasn’t Cheryl standing 10 feet from us but a tall, Asian woman with dark, blown-out hair and welcoming smile. It was something different: something in the grey area between assumption and expectation.

It was Christmas and she was like a beautifully wrapped present. It might be the perfect gift or the surprise you’ll never forget.

Happy holidays from Bangkok.

Posted by bucketbath 11:31 Archived in Thailand Tagged night thailand club bangkok life light red dancing boy lady asia district alcohol sex nightclub pattapong Comments (4)

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