I must say that I’m enjoying my Sunshine Massage School experience. I’m also enjoying the studying and the daily routine that goes with it. It feels like I’m actually living in a foreign city.
Every day my alarm goes off at 7am, I do my yoga practice, make some toast and a cup of tea then head out for my daily commute to school.
I’ve hired a bicycle! “Not that unusual” I hear you say. Now let me tell you that the last time I did any cycling on roads was during my Cycling Proficiency Test at Church Hill Primary School. Ok, so it was in my last year, but Gallants Farm Road in East Barnet doesn’t really compare with tackling the mayhem of Thailand’s second largest city. At least they drive on the left.
Picture this: There’s this moat that encircles the old city and a dual carriageway on either side of it. Think London’s North Circular. To get into the old city, you’re on the dual carriageway surrounded by hoards of scooters, tuk tuks and songtaews (little jeeps that pick people up). You have to cross the moat by scooching into the right (ie fast) lane and then whizzing over intermittent bridges over the moat and directly into the oncoming fast lane. Then you do a left off the dual carriageway. Not easy at all. But so far so good!
Oh and traffic lights? What traffic lights? Whole families on scooters just nip across where there’s a gap in the traffic. They seem very adept at it and car drivers are very accommodating of all these two wheelers everywhere. I just pootle along sitting very upright on my squeaky Raleigh, map close at hand in my basket. Even the old blokes cycling rickshaws manage to overtake me. Their calf muscles are a sight to behold.
There’s cobblers (complete with sewing machines) sitting on the pavement and I pass street food stalls selling all sorts of weird and wonderful things. You can buy a bag of fruit for 12 Baht (22p) so I sometimes stop at her stall or there’s always the Thai favourite: 7 Eleven. It beats the District Line, that’s for sure.
Today at school we focused on The Face. All of us took turns to run fingers over temples, rotate thumbs on closed eyelids, stick fingers in ears, do ‘the hair shampoo’ and hold chins. You should have seen us afterwards – hair sticking out at right angles, looking totally spaced out. Bliss.
We’ve now learnt all the moves for a basic Thai massage and now we just have to remember them. We’ll spend tomorrow and Thursday practicing and then we’ll be tested on Friday.
There’s so much to remember – not only the strict order of the body parts, but what things you do to them, how you get the person into the position and just as hard is remembering how you’re meant to be positioned.
And I’m teaching yoga there! There’s a free class taught by one of the tutors and he’s asked me to teach. I haven’t taught for months and it’s so nice to start sharing Michel and Roslyn’s knowledge.
In the evening, some of us may meet up, or we do our own thing. Tonight I went to a local place for a quick plate of rice and veg and I was the only Westerner in there. I spoke to my Mum on Skype and did some dull admin.
But I like that. I like the sense of routine and we’re all creatures of habit. On Sunday, I rode an elephant, went bamboo rafting and did a walk to some hilltribe villages. So there you go. It’s all about balance.