Landing in Chiang Mai, what a contrast stepping into the comfort and silence of this taxi and taking a short ride to our accommodation. After the marathon of taxi, airport, plane, airport, plane and taxi. This 10 minute journey conjures a reflexion of life in India for the past 5 months. And wow Thailand seems the most clean, quiet and orderly country on earth by comparison. It’s actually very difficult to explain but I never really had any positive expectation for India, we were going for the yoga!!! And when we examine most of the individual parts now, we still don’t have any expectation. But all these parts add up to something, that certain je ne sais quoi you could say! Maybe it’s just the simplicity of it all.
Leaving Mother England all those months ago, one of the things I looked forward to the most was the onset of the monsoon season. I had images of torrential downpours lasting days on end but alas the rains did not come. At least not until we were 30 minutes into a 4 and a half hour journey to the airport and then did it come down. Visibility was reduced to a minimum and the roads flowed like rivers. There were fender benders aplenty and ambulances futilely attempting to make their way through the carnage that is Indian traffic (chaos incarnate).
And now with the challenge of a daily practice overcome and deeply ingrained, we move on from shala life, at least for now, only to be challenged again with the routine of asana practice to be done anywhere we can manage for the foreseeable future.
|Home For 5 Months|
|The Moon Over Mysore|
|Receiving Our Yoga Alliance Certificates|
|Receiving Our Yoga Alliance Certificates|
I was last in Chiang Mai March 2003 and can safely say nothing has changed at all, not even the prices. We were staying at Top Garden for THB550 a night (£10) and although not the Ritz, what it lacked in style it made up for with cleanliness and comfort. And to top it off the owners Victor and Thunya were the friendliest, caring and most helpful hosts anyone could ask for. There was a little courtyard area we could practice in. A little noisy with the 6 am delivery traffic but reasonably sheltered and private. I recommend this place to anyone heading this way.
|Buddhist Temple Chiang Mai|
My biggest concern about coming to Thailand was and is, finding decent vegan food. I.e. the kind that doesn’t just remove all the animal protein and serve up a vacant dish devoid of nutrients and was amazed at what we found. Taste of Heaven is a small vegetarian/vegan outlet in the old town and what a gem it is. Pretty much ate there every day in an attempt to make it through the menu. By far the best veg restaurant in South East Asia. There were a great number of other restaurants to choose from but didn’t see the point in trying. Other delights to be had were dried mango and fresh fruits from the markets.
Perhaps one of the highlights to be had in Chiang Mai would be to simply come for the food. But we actually came to take a 3 day course in Traditional Thai Massage. We paid a bit extra and signed up with Art of Massage for a 1 to 1 course. It was a lot of fun and we both feel pretty comfortable giving each other a massage and the skill will certainly help ease some of the tension gained from asana practice, although I think I may have broken Sherren already.
Now on Koh Samui, things haven’t really changed here either in 10 years. Although everything is 3 times the price of Chiang Mai and almost on par western standards. We are staying in the town of Mae Nam. It’s in the north and is far far away from the hustle and bustle of Chaweng that is ladyboy/hooker bars, disco’s and droves and droves of English, German and Australian lager louts indulging in copious amounts of booze and ladyboys/hookers. So pretty much far away from all the fun/entertaining bits. After all, there’s nothing quite so entertaining as watching a middle aged lager lout who’s too drunk to stand get carried back to his hotel by a ladyboy. But what it does have is a 4km stretch of beautiful coral sand beach that is virtually deserted (just what is needed to recover from asana practice each morning).
Unfortunately the food situation on Samui is dire. It is a polar opposite to Chiang Mai. Even if I wasn’t eating a vegetarian/vegan diet, I would consider the food here to be among some of the worst in the world. There is literally one menu that every restaurant on the island uses. And this comprises of deep fried, refined carbohydrates, drowned in a sea of msg. After 5 days of it I’ve actually considered doing a water only detox for the next 6 days just to avoid eating. Thankfully the breakfast at our resort is pretty good, providing muesli, fresh fruits and salads. We’re just bringing our own coconut milk to the table to avoid the dairy.
So beautiful beaches and a continuing laid back approach to life aside, we’re really looking forward to the first Australian leg of this journey and catching up with some of life’s finest and fairest friends.
|Angthong National Park|
|Sherren's Doing Some Work for a Change!|
|Dessert Island Moves|