Thailand 2018

0: Are these people models?

The goodbyes got said.

I'm on my way.


Anxiety ridden me. Waiting at the airport 3 hours earlier than necessary. I brought a book.


I have nightmares about missing flights. Not locking the doors when I should have. And leaving the stove on. Why? beats me.


I underpacked for this. Or at least I thought I did. But my bag weighed in at 8 kilograms (17.6lb) The flight attendant gave me a pass but really my carry-on should weigh 7kilos (15lb)


Alright, I guess I'll be wearing ALL my clothes the next time I go to the airport to make my bag weigh less.


The 12 hr flight was uneventful. I slept, and slept some more. Alternating between leaning against the window to resting my head on the tray table. Repeat. I try not to lean on my neighbor and drool.


I ate whatever they gave me. Veggie-gan-ish-ism has been suspended for the remainder of the trip. Alcohol is free on EVA air. They don't list prices and they hand you a can of beer as if they were handing you a Sprite. No IDs. No ridiculous price tag.


Oh. And the flight attendants. They look like models. Maybe they are models. Perfect looking. Well put together. Their demeanor: kind, composed, elegant, and oh so pretty, in that child like innocence.


I confess, I'd be hard pressed to tell most of them apart. Besides that girl with the bob haircut who looks slightly different, everyone looks the same. Forgettable, but really really really pretty.


Okay, that sounds pretty bad coming from me... but I read somewhere, especially in Korean beauty pageants where people strive for an ideal look with surgical enhancements, they do kinda look the same. Okay. Maybe I can blame the airline uniforms and french twists updos.


But seriously, they are all the same size. Like size 0.


One of my friends went to China or was that Korea? once and came back saying there was a continent with people way prettier than me. Uhh thanks? Now I get it. Hands down. They glow. At least the flight attendants do. (plus they speak like 3 languages)


Normal Asians look, well, normal.

1: One thing I won't be doing this trip

Arrived in Chiang Mai.


The weather was warm, not hot.


Got a kick out of having to write the address of my residence in English, because I am illiterate in Thai.


The person who picked me up held my name on a piece of paper, like they do in the movies.


I followed him to the "wrong" side of the car, because cars are built differently here. Drivers are on the right. Passengers on the left. It was a quiet ride. He doesn't speak English. He whisked me away to god knows where. A village, perhaps, outside of Chiang Mai.


My impressions of the roadways: 3rd world. Paved, not dirt. Most things written in a language I can't understand. And they drive on the "wrong" side. It isn't really wrong it is "British." But if my instincts tell me to do one thing and I have to keep telling myself to do the complete opposite. That can get annoying.


Faux Pas #1. I tracked my boots into someone's house. Yep. And I keep forgetting to take off my slippers before walking on the blue tiled floor.


The girl in the room next to mine is from the Cezch Republic. We rode loaner bicycles around town. She reminded me to ride on the LEFT. I find myself completely out of shape for this. Or can I blame the bike for being stuck in 8th gear. My quads burned. Are we there yet? I asked towards the end.


My phone doesn't work here unless I have Wifi. Her phone does. She is the navigator.


She talked about renting a scooter. Ouch. I wanna ride too!!! But I'm not gonna.




1. I looked up the statistics on fatalities in Thailand (High, if not #1 in motorcycle fatalities)


2. I am an ATGATT (all the gear, all the time) gal. It helps me walk away from accidents. I tried packing my gear into my suitcase. It takes up a lot of room and weighs a lot. Plus all the gear makes you Hot, in the passed out from heat exhaustion way.


3. The riding on the LEFT hand side of the road thing creeps me out.


4. People who loan you the motorcycle might collect your passport for collateral.


5. From what I read online, the traffic cops want a 200 baht tip/bribe (for comparison, a giant bottle of Sang beer is 60 baht-- that's a lot of beer)


6. If any accidents happen, as a foreigner, it is YOUR FAULT, no arguing with it. They suggest negotiating to get the cost low, paying it, and getting on with life.


7. I plan on getting massages and drinking lots of beer this time round.



Well, Those are my reasons and I'm sticking to it.


I'll do the riding stuff next time. But it's gotta be like a 10 day motorcycle tour going to epic places to be worth it, and a tour guide (to bribe the cops for me?). Cause I need support. I hate being lost somewhere I can't even pronounce. I have nightmares of being lost never to be heard from again. I got anxiety.


The meals here are amazing.


After dinner it's back to the room. I slept a little.


It is 3 am in Thailand, noon back home.


I can't sleep.


There are mosquitoes here. I have on my citronella bracelet to ward off those winged beasts.


I organized my clothes hung it up in my room. Laundry (washer, no dryer) is 40 baht a load. Handwashing is free. I'll probably handwash. Either way you hang em dry.


It's peaceful here. quiet.


if only I could sleep.

2: Is there really a 3ft catfish down there?

Couldn't sleep. Woke up real early. Did yoga, meditation and chanting in the meditation room.


Breakfast of jackfruit from a tree a few feet away. Bread with fresh honey from another tree, probably down the street or at least in the same village.


Massage after breakfast from a woman who didn't speak English. We made it work. I feel amazing.


Lunch was a soup. What is it? I'll never know.


I'm chilling out by the coy pond. I hear splashing occasionally. There's supposed to be a 3ft catfish down there. Really? The water is murky.  I can't see it.  Beer anyone? I'm gonna sit here till dinner listening to mantras. Read a book. Do some yoga. Maybe it'll make an appearance.


The guy next to me is getting a reflexology session.

It looks good. I want one. Maybe tomorrow.


The bell rang for a steam bath. Six people squeezed into a small room. I inhaled the eucalyptus infused steam wondering how long I should be here for. Next came a hot shower. I washed my hair with bar soap. I forgot to pack shampoo. I drank some spicy ginger tea and hesitantly jumped into the cold pool. K-splash.


A wonderful before dinner ritual.


At dinner, over beer, wine and a spread of deliciousness, I overheard French. I wish I knew what they were saying.


Time passes slowly here. I hear the birds. I eat outside. I feel at home.


I want to be here more. Like seriously, I want to be location independent.

3: Those dman roosters start work at 3am

I woke up at 3am. To the sounds of a rooster symphony. Really? I don't feel too bad about eating "chicken" anymore.


I ate too much yesterday. last night. the day before.


I feel overly indulged and full. I'm gonna have to start eating reasonable portions tomorrow. Like, eat what's good for me instead of what's available.


I'm used to skipping meals. A lot. My pattern: Skipped breakfast. Small lunch. Huge dinner.


Some people I know savor the flavors. They talk about food like art. 


On me, the taste of expensive wine is lost. But the decor of the restaurant. The small tea light candles. The shape of the bottle. The people laughing. The music. Those elements I understand.


At 6am I head to the meditation hut. Okay, it's really not a hut, but I'm still gonna call it that. Singing, dancing, yoga and being thankful I'm here.


Took a class on back walking. We got giant sticks to help us balance ourselves. My teacher tells me that back walking isn't really taught in the Thai curriculum. Why? because it isn't polite to walk on people. Laughter.


I saw a guy ride a scooter while holding a rooster. Cracked me up too.


Oh yeah, now I understand why people who go here don't come back. They don't want to. I don't want to.


But I'm gonna. Just to make enough money so I can leave again. Like that addict doing what they can to get the next high. Beg, borrow, steal. Or earn more money so I can do this every year. I see a "Support my travels" tip jar popping up. Might even have to raise my rates to beyond that of my peers.


$200 flat fee per session


In the past, I have a tough time charging for what I do. I see people who have less experience than me charge more. That is frustrating. At the same time, I like to keep my rates affordable.


Though to travel more and invest in the education I want. I'm gonna need more funds. How much more? Like earning $50,000 a year AFTER taxes. Currently I'm at about $15,000-$20,000 after taxes. Around poverty level where I live. I haven't seen a doctor or dentist in years. It doesn't afford me to take very good care of myself.


It's probably worse this year after I quit doing the Swedish/Deep Tissue stuff.


Funny thing is that the Swedish/Deep Tissue I did had a lot of Thai and Shiatsu in it already.


I was Eastern track and studied mostly Shiatsu in massage school. When I got out of school I found marketing Shiatsu to be a nightmare. To get a job, what I did was take what I know. Put it on the table. Add some oil and called it Swedish/Deep Tissue.


That worked.


When I wanted to move it back to the floor. Delete the oil, and call it what it's actually called: Thai yoga bodywork + Shiatsu. People didn't want it. They wanted me to do the old stuff, or refer them to someone else who will. Understandable, but maddening.


I had to get a 2nd job to support me because of it.


Then I decided I wanted say I "retired" because explaining to someone that I've changed, explaining what I do now, and then getting rejected. It hurts. I felt betrayed. Then again, they probably felt the same.


I could go on with the charade and credit what I do as something Western when it isn't. Package it as such because it is easier to understand. I've done that for the past 8 year. But now, I want to give credit where credit is due. Maybe it's fool hardy and a marketing nightmare to do so. 


Maybe it's me taking Scorpio energy and breaking the massage table and burning it. The table that forces me to conform to whatever the prevailing standards are for massage. What's expected of me. What a massage is supposed to be like. And doing something different and calling it what it's supposed to be called.


I don't even want to use the word "massage" anymore to describe what I do.


Enough ranting.

4: Mosquitoes almost ate me alive

My brain hurts. My back hurts. Ouch. Rough day.


I decided to get a foot massage after class, close to dusk. By the coy pond.


Yep. You guessed it. Mosquitoes. Them f*ckers almost ate me alive. I smell like a citronella candle. And itchier too. They don't seem especially deterred by citronella. You live. You learn.


The more I learn in class the more I know there is more to learn.


I almost want to quit my office when I come home and spend all my money traveling so I could learn more. The office is like an anchor. Ideally it would provide the resources to travel and learn, but if it is draining resources and making me feel stuck. It might be time to let it go.


It is so tempting to see rent money in terms of travel abroad money, especially when the office is more of a liability than an asset. Even so, I love that space. Well, part of me does. The other half thinks it has a lot of memories. Seven years worth.


I've grown much in those seven years. And perhaps it is time for a fresh start.


I don't know yet what I'm going to do.


All I know is, I want to be here more.


5: Coloring has never been so stressful

The assignment today was to color in the sen lines, the teacher said as she dumped a bunch of colored pencils and pieces of papers in front of us.


Uhh what? What are sen lines? Okay. In theory I kinda know. It's the Thai equivalent of the meridian system in Chinese Medicine. Similar, but different.


I spent 3 hours trying to piece together pieces to this puzzle. Some of the drawings were marked in a different language. I panicked.


By the end, I developed a better understanding. Though, I'm still very much confused.


I rewarded myself with 2 beers for surviving the day.


Dinner came and went uneventfully. I skipped dessert and went to bed early. Oww my head hurts.


6: Them neighbors Karaoke hard

Woke up and did yoga this morning before sunrise. I've never been more regular in my practice. I love it.


Saw that 3ft catfish this morning at breakfast when someone was flinging corn flakes into the coy pond. It was a lot smaller than expected.


Had an avocado with sugar for breakfast with some fruit, some fruit juice, and some tea. That might be my self imposed rut breakfast for the remainder of the trip.


Tried passion fruit. Too sour. I love jackfruit and guava. Still not a fan of bananas. The bananas here are miniature.


I've never thought myself as a picky eater, but I guess I am.


Soup for lunch.


Studied the Sen lines for Thai massage with a puzzled look on my face, still.


Did laundry. By hand. And hung it up to dry.


I picked a slug off of a dog I was petting. Eww.


Drinking a beer as I'm writing this. The sun is setting. The day went by quick, at a relaxed pace, too.


I'm at peace. Finally....


Until the neighbor cranked up his speaker system and had a Karaoke party. Someone mentioned that it is customary here to make lots of noise. It'll scare away the ghosts.


I enjoyed a selection of music I've never heard before from voices that may have been drunk. All in good fun. It's a Saturday, after all. Them neighbors really know how to party.

7: I can't buy that at the Market

At got a massage today. It was great. There were moves I've never experienced before. I wish I could learn how to give as good as I get here. I guess more studying is in order.


Went to market. The experience was kinda stressful. Plenty of people. The kind of environment that I find myself lost in.


There were people making their products in the booths. A mother teaching her daughter how to weave. A guy twisting wires into bonsai plants with jade leaves.


I couldn't find anything I wanted to buy.


I did end up blind buying some shirts. The ones with sleeves didn't fit me that well. The arm holes were much too constricting. 


I borrowed a pair of scissors and used needle and thread to redesign it a little. The end result: at least I could breath and move my arms. I spent way too much time on that project.


I might not buy anything else from the markets besides a notebook and some oversized Thai fisherman pants and equally oversized shirts. At least those are guaranteed to fit.


Yes, things are cheap. But I'm not much of a shopper here. Yes, jewelry, clothing, and random knick knacks are pretty. But I don't NEED them.


What I need is to be happy. To figure out what I want to do as a career, one that doesn't kill my soul.


Some self confidence perhaps. The ability to set boundaries. To say no a lot more often than I do. To be less polite and more sovereign.


The things I want really can't be bought. They are things I give to myself. They might take money, yes, to train to do the thing. Bottom line: what I need isn't stuff. It's a feeling. Of having my shit together, and not being f*cked with. By people younger than me who thinks I'm younger than them. By people older than me who feel they could push me around.


Why I act younger than I am? I'm not sure. Maybe I need more experience to mature me. I don't want to be more jaded, but I do want to be more firm. Then again, being disarming does have its perks. But not if I feel consistently dissed.

8: And then I cried

Was it my Thai massage practice partner taking sadistic pleasure out of making my shoulders burn with pain, or was it my instructor telling me the reason I was in so much pain was because of my bad body mechanics. And I should pay more attention in class.


Uhh, there are a bazillion things to pay attention to. I can't keep track of it all.


Plus... I might be in pain because I was in a car accident a week ago, like Thanksgiving day. Nov 22nd.


Am I okay? Yes. I guess. Nothing is broken that I know of, but really, I didn't go to the doctor to find out. My nerves are frayed and it wouldn't surprise me if my muscles tensed up during the ordeal.


It's anybody's guess whether my muscles hurt because of the car accident, or bad body mechanics. But I'd had enough. Tried to hold back the tears, barely. I had 1 hr. Hold it in for just another hour.


I took one bathroom break to bawl and meditate. Compose myself. And then went back to finish the class.


The second it was over. I grabbed 3 bottles of beer. Told someone I wasn't coming to dinner.


Went up to my room and bawled. Let the flood gates open. Let the energy flow. No sense in stopping it. Not that I could anyway.


Skipped dinner.


Hope I'll feel better by tomorrow morning.

9: Well, that was rough

Processing most car/motorcycle accidents for me requires tears. Lots of em. My nervous system doing a hard reset. They finish when they finish. 


So I was crying during yoga, and through most of the morning class. But by the afternoon, the storm seem to have passed. I feel better.


It's probably a good idea to tell the people who were massaging me that I had been in a wreck the week before, but I thought it wasn't a big deal. I feel fine. Well... physically I feel fine. Coming off of adrenaline and all. Emotionally, I was a wreck. And it doesn't take much to send me off the deep end.


I expect to mend in 2-3 days.


I hate scaring people like that, but sometimes, there's no helping it.

10: Let's just pretend I died

Well, I would have been pissed if I died. Why? cause I procrastinated doing the sh*t on my bucket list.


I thought I had forever. At least until my 90s.


I thought if I could do the same d*mn thing with my life for just a little longer, things would somehow end up being different. I would somehow save enough money. Then afford to do the things on that list.


Well, that day never came, did it?


I'd like to travel more. Quit doing shit that doesn't make me happy. Break out of the rut I've been living. A comfortable time waster. Afraid to quit cause it might offend somebody. 


Well, in the face of death, I don't got much time to waste. It's okay for me to be selfish on this second lease on life, or was it my 3rd? Martyrdom is out. Being Selfish is in.


I say go for it. If I wanna do it. I'm gonna do it. And if something makes me unhappy. I'm cool with ghosting it. Doing the Irish goodbye. And not feel bad about it.


Right now, it's okay to be a jack ass. It's okay to say no. It's okay to not be so d*mn agreeable.


There are a few people in my life who don't like the word d*mn. They don't like the word f*ck, sh*t, h*ll, either. That's okay. They go into the ghosting + Irish goodbye box. If today is my last day, I wouldn't give a sh*t about them. And perhaps it is as it should be to do the same if I have decades left.


Anyway, my priorities have shifted. I'll see what happens in the aftermath of these new commitments.


I have a few things I'm quitting on the spot. And a few things I'm going to make room for. Even if it ain't perfect (I'm still gonna drink too much). It's me. And to live a life true to myself is the best gift I can give myself in the days to come.

11: On second thought, I won't eat that cricket

I went to market today, determined to eat bugs. Excellent source of protein. I've been swatting mosquitoes left and right and ants are crawling all over my bed.


Safe to say, I might be vegan, but I'll eat them bugs. Well, maybe if they were grounded up in a smoothie. Or covered in chocolate.


There were bugs for sale at the market. They were dead. Huge. In a pile. Probably salted. I walked on by as if I'd never seen em. Chxn.


There were other equally disturbing things, like pig snouts for sale, fish being bashed with a mallet. Maybe I'm not cut out for this real world "where does your food come from" shit. I'll stay vegetarian, if not vegan.


I did end up buying a necklace made from a woman from the Hill Tribes of Thailand. They are known as "the mountain people" known practice magic. They are often migratory, so it might be hard to find them.


I learned that most people here make less a day than I do working an hour working at the foot spa. Course, the cost of living here is less.


Dinner came and went. I ate too much, yet again. I joke that I'll probably come back packing an extra 20lb.

12: My favorite place is

At the beginning of this journey, I was like "I want to plan an even longer trip next time."


Right now I'm like "I wanna finish this up and go home".


One month is long enough to be away from my bathtub. Or ANY bathtub, for that matter. You don't get that here. You get a shower, on tile floors with ants, spiders, and geckos running up the walls.


The geckos are pretty cute.


The thought of spending days barely leaving the house sounds quite relaxing right now. That, and a nice, warm bubbly bath with jasmine scented soaps.

13: Where an old Thai woman tortures your feet with a wooden tool

I'm really loving the foot massage I'm learning here. By foot massage, I mean massages where I step on people with my feet while using two wooden sticks to balance. I've learned different ways to step on people and it feels amazing.


Today, this dude who had giant feet, one of which pretty much covers most of my back worked on me. It felt amazing. Well, provided he doesn't fall on me.


The pressure was deep and diffused, not at all pokey, like thumb pressure could feel.


I haven't learned anything reflexology related this trip. I did get a reflexology session once, while being bitten by mosquitoes.


Back story: Ten years ago, he-who-shall-not-be-named came back from Thailand telling me he hated reflexology. Me, never having gotten reflexology before, asked why? He hold me reflexology is where an old Thai woman tortures your feet with a wooden tool. He wasn't a fan. I laughed. Seriously? I thought he was joking. Okay, now I get it.


Verdict: I don't really like getting jabbed in the foot with a wooden tool. No matter how gentle. Even if it's good for me. Besides, I prefer getting Thai Bodywork more, so I'm sticking with that.


Going though life being reflexology illiterate is fine with me. Cause, really, I don't like working on feet. I prefer to step on people's feet more so than rubbing their feet with my hands. The latter is hard work, okay, maybe not as hard as construction, but still.


Truth is, working at the foot spa does cause my arms to go numb at night. And I've only been there for 2 months.

14: And then I had to pee really bad

The bodywork session I had was 3+ hours. I know, woe is me.


I did pee at the beginning, but my bladder filled up again towards the end of the session. I didn't want to interrupt the flow, yet I was tensing my bladder muscles every time she worked my stomach muscles.


Maybe I should shun water all morning so my bladder would be empty throughout the session.


Bodywork here don't last any shorter than 2 hrs and can last up to 5 hrs. The longest session I've received was 4.5hrs. Loved it.


My session today went overtime and I missed the ride to the night market. Did I care? Nope. Not at all.


Getting my body stretched, compressed, and rubbed all over by giant balls of steamed herbs. Those which smelled funny, like a medley of ginger, eucalyptus, camphor, turmeric, and god knows what else-- is Heaven. The rest can wait.

15: Royal pain

Today, I got the intro lecture on a style of bodywork meant for royalty-- Royal Style.


It sounds fancy, but in practice really hurts my thumbs.


Royal means more rules, more restrictions. You aren't supposed to lean over royalty. You aren't supposed to step on royalty. Your feet aren't even supposed to point towards royalty.  Cuz, you know,  it's royalty. Show some respect!


Um, okay. Note to self. Definitely not qualified to work on royalty.


Besides, I derive way too much joy from stepping on people to forego doing it.


Oh well. Refined, I am not, nor do I ever wish to be.

Tien T. Dinh,

OR LMT#17374