Spa-aaaaaaaah

I have been a massage therapist for 7+ years and have never had a proper spa day. yes, i have gone out and gotten my hair and nails done. yes, i have gone out and received a massage. or a facial, or sat in a sauna. but never all at once.

I have just finished nearly a year of teaching English to students in Surat Thani, Thailand and all I wanted was to spoil myself. But first, I needed to complete some massage courses in Chiang Mai. I discovered a pamphlet (well- many pamphlets). It offered a special promotion:

1 hour aromatherapy massage
1 hour facial (mask, cleanse, scrub, etc)
30 min body scrub
15 min jacuzzi
15 min sauna
_____________=1600 baht (USD $50ish)

I booked that for right after a cooking class (a different entry for later).

There were some technical issues concerning people not showing up on time, but otherwise, the owner picked me up from my hotel and drove me to the spa. It was in a quiet neighborhood-type of area. It was an old huge house converted into a spa. I was immediately given iced tea and slippers. I confirmed my preference and was given a sarong to change into. I was led to a small wooden box: the sauna. I didn’t make it through the entire 15 minutes (although it felt like 20) due to boredom. Then after some bananas and warm tea, I was shown outside to an enclosed patio with a HUGE jacuzzi. It was a perfect temperature and had plumerias floating in and around the water. I enjoyed this for the full 15 minutes with an ice cold glass of water at my disposal. Mind you, it had been over a year since the last time I sat in a bath. When my 15 minutes was up, I dried off and changed into a robe and went into the massage room.
The body scrub came next. I have given plenty of body scrubs before and have rubbed my own legs and feet with it, but have never gotten a full body scrub. DAMN. That shiz is rough! I realize now why the scrub is BEFORE the massage: a person gets tense when being scrubbed with mango scented salt for 30 minutes. She started with the legs and feet, continued my back and arms. She then turned me over and did my legs and arms again. Then without hesitation or warning, my upper body was exposed and she scrubbed my stomach and tatas! WHOA! I didn’t have time to react. In the US, draping is required and we normally put a towel over a lady’s chest before exposing the stomach. Magawd it was not pleasant. WORD OF ADVICE: when receiving oil massage or body scrub outside of the US – let them know in advance that you do NOT want your tatas rubbed (unless you do). 

After that awkward body scrub, I was taken to a shower and brought back to the room. She started the massage. Her pressure was way too deep Thai-style so i asked her to ease up a smidgeon. It was nice after that. But I caught her before she took the top of my blanket off this time – I said ‘no chest or stomach please ka’ and she didn’t.

I know that the next part was the facial. But I don’t remember it. I was passed the fuck out. I dreamed heavily as always. I dreamed the massage was over and I realized I had fallen asleep so I woke up in my dream and then in real life. I took off my eye covers to realize that I had the mask on and my session was NOT over. So I laid down and passed out again. Dreamed of school peers from middle school. ((Matt Heafy, lead singer of Trivium, and other school mates were gathered to ask me if I was attending their concert the next day. No offense, Matt, you have talent, but metal is not for me!)) Anywayhoo – I didn’t realize she was back in the room until a cool compress was washing away the mask. She continually tried to clean the mask from my nose and nostrils and I thought she was trying to suffocate me. . . until I drowned in a frozen lake felt the ice cold compress covering my entire face. You wanna wake a girl up???? Put an ice cold compress on her face!! Asshole. Way to tense me right back up. Goddamn. Anyway, facial was finished, I was utterly exhausted. My face felt soft without me even having the touch it. My body was floating down the stairs and into the changing area. I tipped the lady, and the owner drove me back to the hotel.

If you ever visit Chiang Mai, I recommend you treat yourself to Sinativa Spa.

Secrets of Surat Thani – a short movie by RTapps

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A Refresher in a Friend

I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it. I have spent the last few months quite unhappy in my situation – ready to quit at the drop of a hat. I wasn’t homesick – but I was finding myself lonely in a room full of people. My comments were ignored, my jokes missed and disregarded, my laugh was forced (if I laughed at all). It was a form of depression that I wasn’t accustomed to.

Today I feel great. The conditions are a little different I think though. It’s the last month of school and all the tests are done. The light at the end of the tunnel has finally appeared. But the real booster was a visit from a friend.

It was not his intention to come to Thailand to see me – he was just going because he could and something told him it was a good idea. And it happened that I am here. I found out 2 weeks before he came out (about 2 weeks before he knew he was coming out for sure). I was stoked. I have known my friend since high school. We were never particularly close but our mutual friends kept us in minor contact.

Anyway, the sun started to shine a bit more since he decided to come to Thailand. I had something to look forward to that wasn’t the end of school. The schedule got blistered a bit and it took another 2 weeks for him to get to my part of the country. But he got here and my soul’s thirst was quenched. I felt like a little kid – wanting to show him all my classes and what my students can do. (He missed the best class – but they’ll be famous in their own rights one day). I wanted him to try this and that and everything.

But the best part was finally when I relaxed, my words were heard and my jokes were laughed at. I ventured into humor that is borderline incredibly offensive. But the timing was good and it was influenced by my friend. I observed his style and realized it was similar to mine – and none of my coworkers really got what either of our styles. I wasn’t alone for once in this room full of people. I was here and with someone who I could be myself around. My ridiculous attempts at different accents was met with even more ridiculous attempts at accents. I was encouraged to speak my mind rather than hold it in. I realized how great of a person this guy is (not that I didn’t know before – but hey .. haven’t seen him in years!).

I’m only a minor part in his experience here but it’s something to relate to later and a story to share with our friends. I realize how much more fun I could be having here if I had someone like him around: someone to bring out the best in me because I can actually be me. I laughed more this past weekend with him around than I have in ages (sober or not).

 

So, my friend, I dedicate this entry to you.

I hope we can share more adventures in the future wherever we may be.

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Holiday Show Happiness

"Mai" a student dressed in MJ garb

“Mai” a student dressed in MJ garb

In August, our manager informed us of a ‘holiday’ party in December that we were expected to perform at. Cue: Collective groan. Then she told us we needed to prepare our students for a performance as well.

I played a few songs for my P3 class (7-8 y/o) including the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, and India Arie. Apparently this was NOT cool. They wanted Lady Gaga. I scoffed because we had just gone over ‘Like/Dislike’ and in my ‘Dislike’ category I had written Lady Gaga. Then it hit me: Michael Jackson.  The students were familiar with the name and enjoyed rockin’ out to his music during dance time.

So we played lots of MJ songs until I  we collectively decided on singing “man in the mirror”. We started rehearsals immediately. I taught the students the words and we sang a few times a week at the beginning of class. They loved it. I loved it.

After they learned the lyrics I choreographed a fairly complicated easy dance for them. They caught on quickly. I caught on to the few that were not coordinated and put them in the back – as any good drama geek turned teacher would do.
We rehearsed with the other half of the class that another teacher taught. Without sounding too cocky – my class was WAAYYY better than hers.  they were all very good.

December came along and we gave them the outline for their outfits:
Black button down/zipped shirt with long sleeves
white t-shirt
black pants
white socks
black shoes
fedora

Students were bringing in amazing outfits to put together. I realized that there were 2 key element being forgotten about 2 weeks before the performance: the sparkly glove. No MJ performance would be complete without it!! So they brought gloves and we decorated it with the devil glitter. Also, they needed to know how to moonwalk! So they practiced moonwalking down the hallways for about 30 minutes. Not an easy task. But HILARIOUS to watch.

Our director loves me and came to watch the students perform a couple times. She loved it. I loved it. We all loved it.

Holiday-show-day was upon us. I walked into the GIANT convention hall and saw the itsy bitsy stage the students were to perform on. All i could think: “SHhhhiiiiiit. Someone’s going to fall off stage.” But then I saw their adorable little faces in the brilliant collection of MJ style costumes and no longer cared. For a few hours, I filled the room with Thai MJ impersonators.  No MJ fan could have been happier.
The performance itself was good. Not great.
Reason 1: No microphones. They took away the microphones because there was no room for it. So you couldn’t hear a damned word they said
Reason 2: The kids were so afraid of ruining their precious glittered gloves that they didn’t actually clap. They fake clapped! ((Insert: SMH))

———————–
On a side note: the girls of my P3 class decided to sing “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston. Of course when I say “decided” I actually mean our Thai director told me they were going to perform it. They dressed like divas and threw roses into the audience after the performance. They did a fantastic job.

I’m uploading the videos to youtube so you can see the performances at the show and the ones from their classroom (which are WAY better!!)

The P3 girls and the solo sax player

The P3 girls and the solo sax player

The singers after the performance

The singers after the performance

Little MJs

Light One Up in Thailand

I really enjoy light, however. Thailand has some very pretty light things going on.

Their lanterns are fantastic. It’s amazing to see people celebrate their holidays with cool traditions like that. Thailand just celebrated a couple holidays recently: Loy Krathong and Father’s Day/King’s birthday. The lanterns filled the skies and turning into small specks amongst the stars. It reminds me a bit of Florida when the shuttle took off. Obviously those are completely different scenarios – I’ve probably offended some NASA people by comparing a lantern to a space shuttle – not my intention I ASSURE you.

But the way the light is so close and then just disappears really hits home. If you ever get the chance to send off a lantern, don’t pass up on it. (And if you’re in Hawaii, don’t pass up a lei – those things are fantastic.) You can get different kinds of lanterns too.. there are angry birds, angry pigs, doremon?, and zebra stripes, etc. So get creative with it!

I also reverted for a few minutes to my 5 year old self. I saw a firefly. A lightning bug. Amazing. They’re there and then they aren’t! It’s like magic. I was mesmerized by these little buggers. The Thai folk we were drinking with laughed quite a bit at my expense.. but I couldn’t care. How can one care when a bug that has a light-up butt be anything but the most important thing at that time?

The floating lanterns aren’t the only amazing light spectacles. All along the river the trees and light posts are lit up like christmas. There are these oversized and  ridiculous light fixtures on the side of the road. Some of bunnies that look a bit like a kangaroo, others are strange little people doing random things. I know that was very vague, but look at the pictures and you’ll understand.

There are some very cool lights, lamps, and lanterns all throughout Thailand and I love every moment of it. If you visit Thailand, make sure you take some of these light creations home. They’re not found in the US for sure.

Of course there are Angry bird lanterns.

Of course there are Angry bird lanterns.

 

Handmade floating flower arrangements with a candle and a prayer.

Handmade floating flower arrangements with a candle and a prayer.

Let the lantern go and blend in with the stars

Let the lantern go and blend in with the stars

Coffee shops

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Every traveller knows their favorite asset is knowing where the closest coffee shop is.

In Thailand I live in a southern city called Surat Thani. It’s the place that your guide book says to pass through without a glance back. I don’t blame it. But if by chance you find yourself here, here are a few coffee shop recommendations.

@Mycup is on Donnok Rd. it’s a two story adorable shop that offers hot, cold, and frozen beverages. There are a few sandwiches and snacks. There are lovely cakes and ice cream options also. The decor is a quaint collection of garden style seats and tables. The cabinets are filled with beautiful tea and coffee sets that are definitely only for display. The main display is covered in nonfunctional clocks and bicycles. Internet is available depending on the weather. The upstairs is more comfortable in the lounge type of feeling. There are Thai and English menus available. I highly recommend you try the Green Teacinno. The service and food quality rival each other in mediocrity.

ADay Cafe is on Chonkasem. It’s a large single floor cafe that is decorated in bright green and yellow walls. It’s frequented by Thai students as there are several schools around. The coffee is good and the service non existent. Once your order is placed you only are another grain of sand. While conveniently located its not my favorite place to frequent.

My newest coffee discovery is on a road that I ride on everyday and couldn’t tell the name of. It’s called Hom Coffee. It’s fairly new and undiscovered. It’s lovely. I walked in and was immediately greeted and given a verbal English menu. The shop is decorated with vintage knickknacks. I’m sitting at the table featured in the picture. It’s a block of tree trunk holding a glass table top displaying a Thai version of the Batman comics. My napkin holder is a pumpkin trickortreat bucket. My mocha yen (iced mocha) was great. The owner brought me almond wafer cookies and water as well as the wifi password. The terrible 80s style Thai pop was replaced with English R&B including songs by Otown and Destiny’s Child. The owner actually hummed some of the songs. It’s brilliant. It’s quiet and sweet. It will be frequented on weekends though due to their store hours mirroring my work hours 10-8pm.

If you come to Surat I recommend this spot but doubt you’ll find it. The easiest for visitors is probably MyCup.

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Blame it on the..

It’s been a long while since I have posted an update. My apologies – I blame the heat. Actually, one can blame the heat for a lot of issues here:

A certain laziness sets in that makes joining a gym or working out just seem torturous. I luckily have looked past this (and into a mirror) and joined a gym that does not have air conditioning. They have fans, but I haven’t seen them on yet. I spend more here on a gym membership per month than I did in the States.

A rash is inevitable. Heat rash mostly. The constant Florida summer heat can make sensitive skin break out in ways and areas that make ZERO sense. Luckily, pharmacies are as accessible as the drugs they sell. I picked up some cortisone for 180Baht (roughly $6).

I blame the heat for bad hair days! Being a native Floridian, having a ‘good’ hair day keeping long hair straight for longer than 2 hours. Here… maybe there is, maybe there isn’t an excuse. It’s too hot to blow dry and straighten my hair. I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve used a blow dryer… which was actually used for drying my paintings. The straightener bit was a few times more I think. I end up sweaty before I get through half of my head. However, Thai girls have good hair days everyday. I think they may wake up hours earlier than they should to make sure they look like dolls. Thai teachers especially. They rarely have an ‘off’ day. (Maybe I can blame the heat for the laziness of not getting up early to sweat from straightening my hair!)

I blame the heat for dirty clothes. Darling English people.. I know you LOVE to wear white in the worst combinations but white + heat = sweat stains. And they are obvious. I have a couple of white shirts that I have not and will not wear in Thailand. If not for the heat and sweat, then the rain that will give the Thai culture a real sense of spring breaks in Florida.

Full Moon Party (Part 1)

At some point in our young adult life, we hear about this legendary ‘Full Moon Party.’ Sometimes these parties happen around the corner from your home, in the desert, in the woods, etc. But there is none as great and LEGEN (wait for it!) DARY as the Koh Phangan Full Moon Party! Koh Phangan (Kho Pang-yan!) is a small island off the east coast of Southern Thailand. At the southern point is a beach called ‘Haad Rin’ (Hahd Rin) and it’s nice. The water is blue, the sand is sand-colored, and thousands of people flock to this beach once (or rarely twice) a month for this specific party.

It’s a THE full moon party. This party contains buckets, THOUSANDS of people, Burmese & Thai people, mushroom shakes, sex, fire dancing, fire slides(!),”music,” and of course glow paint.

BUCKETS are filled with whatever small-sized liquor bottle (yes, the entire bottle) and mixer. A famous one involves Vodka, Red Bull, and Coca-Cola. My personal fave involves gin and sprite or HongThong (Hong Tong – Thai ‘blended spirits’ aka rum-ish) and Red bull and Manao soda (like a lemonade spritzer?). These buckets range from 150Baht to 500Baht. Or – get creative and buy all the ingredients and mix it yourself.

Thousands of people flock from all over the world (mostly European, especially Irish) to experience this crazy extravaganza. I don’t mean a few thousand. Up to 40,000 people. Typically that number is reached during high season and/or New Years. My party allegedly had about 10,000 people but I can assure you I didn’t count that many. Or at all. I was wasted. The majority of the people (as stated) are from Europe. The sexiest European award goes to Holland!! DAMN DUTCH ARE FINE!!!! The quantity award goes to Ireland! Them bitches be everywhere! And being Irish, they can drink. And they can stumble. And they fall. One particular Irishman I met was dressed in an orange and white tank (vest, for you weird English) and was painted with orange, white, and grey/blue stripes on his face! Naturally, I approached him with ‘Tony?’ and he had no clue what I was talking about. I tried to school him on Tony the Tiger only to be reprimanded. He was, in fact, NOT tony the tiger.. but a were-wolf. Were-wolf + Full Moon Party = get it? Yea, he looked like a tiger. The most ridiculous award goes to Spain! It only took two guys and one simple conversation:

Spain: “You are beautiful. We are two guys who are the most attractive men in the world. You are the most beautiful woman. This is a sign. We should be together.”
Me: “No hablo espania.” And I walked away.

England and America of course get points for conversation. I chatted with an Englishman named (Wenton? Weston? Wimbledon? Wyoming? Whatever – I called him James, the only name Englishmen should have). We chatted about his semi-sad semi-heroic life choices of taking care of adults who have severe social and mental disorders, including his best mate who started showing signs of dementia at age 15. Sad, heroic. Good for him. Good luck in life.

From America, I met some cool and still douche-bag-like people. I met a complete ARSE-HOLE who used “wanker” in an American accent on several occasions. ((((SIDE NOTE: IF YOU ARE FROM AMERICA, SPEAKING WITH AN AMERICAN ACCENT – DO NOT SAY ‘WANKER’… you sound like one, stupid.)))) I kissed him to shut him up only to find he was as bad at kissing as he was at talking. He said “This was meant to be. I feel like I know you.” I laughed, and managed to get away. He then came to me and said ‘Are you serious? This is not the girl I have come to know! You don’t mean this. Come with me to my bungalow and we can sort this out.’  ???? Psycho? ????

Other people include Burmese and Thai locals. They are the ones cleaning up after you and selling buckets and trinkets, respectively. While the thousands of tourists come and ruin their God-given paradise, they stand by and watch. The strange groups of Burmese people with most of their faces covered and bandit-like clothing will go around and pick up the buckets and bottles and other various trash items that us beloved farang leave behind. They probably clean them out with water and give it to the Thai people, who turn around and sell it back to us filled with our favorite beverages for another 500Baht a pop. The Thai people each have their own stand that they will yell at you from. They write English words on their hands and arms in hopes to attract you. “Free hugs! Kiss me!” and other phrases that remind me of those little valentine’s candies.

 

There are the infamous mushroom shakes to consider also. Different people like different drugs for different events. Here in Kho Phangan they have Mushroom Mountain and Kangaroo Bar or something rather. If you face the water, follow the beach to the left until there are steps. Ascend these steps, buy the ugliest ‘shake’ for 500B per cup and choose your adventure. You can stay up in these safer parts where people are trippin’ to blacklight paintings and funky music. You can go back down to the beach and proceed to party at one of the many dance/music areas. You can watch a sweet fire show. Do whatever! But be warned, with the high comes the low. At about 4am when everyone is beyond intoxicated in so many different ways, things can get scary. People turn into zombies and just when you think they’re falling to the left, they’ll stumble to the right and knock you down. They may try to grab you and make out. They may just fall asleep before they hit the sand. There are people sleeping EVERYWHERE on the beach. Likely getting robbed too. Some of the Thais and Burmese will watch over the sleeping darlings to make sure they’re not getting raped or robbed, but no guarantees.  But when ‘shroom shakes are involoved… you see what the drug lets you.

Sex on the Beach is not just a drink. It’s right in front of you. Literally. I’m pretty sure people were doing the dirty deed while dancing and wasted. There definitely were people having sex in the water with lots of onlookers. These people may or may not have been hookers. I have a ‘friend’ who claims that while he was fucking a hooker in that very water, his possessions were stolen from the beach. Sneaky bitches. . . gender questionable also. If you decide to partake in this activity, put your belongings in a safe and have a condom ready… Thai hookers are nasty.

 

Thais are famous for their fire dancing. They can swing fire around better than any hippie I’ve met in the States. They perform for hours making sweet designs in the dark. There was also a fire slide. Say WHATT!!!!!! A rather steep slide that goes straight through a ring of fire? Yea… it’s here. And I’ll bet that is what going to hell is probably going to be like. One last fun thing before descending into the flames. I didn’t try it. I was on a different adventure.

 

The music. The “MUSIC” is shit. But I also happen to think that electronic/dance/trance is bullshit. And every single bar that lines this beach plays something with major bass. I would have danced, but how do you do dance to DOOOOOOm DOOOOOOm DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOm DODODODODODODODODODODM ——————– BIEEWWWWWWWW DOOM DOOM DOOM . whatev. I can’t make the sound via typing and I hope I never have to try again. You know it and hate it or love it. Again, at about 4am the music changes to dark trance… and depending on your intoxication preference.. this could turn your high into a really dark and scary place too.

 

What to wear: Neon. Cheap clothes that are bright or look cool in black lights. You can wear white like at Day-glo parties. Just know you’ll probably throw it away the next day… or not be wearing it at all when you get back to your room.

 

What to bring: minimal. Money and maybe a small pouch or secret place to store this money that is not easily picked (pick pockets), cut off, or opened. Bring an iPhone and you’ll probably get it stolen, lost, or broken. Shoes will likely be lost also. light up anything and glowpaint.

 

There are plenty of food options and drinks are always flowing. There are phramacy’s around and plenty of shops. No worries, you’ll find whatever you need there.

 

I’m over this entry. Maybe a proper entry to come about my personal little adventure during the Full Moon Party.

Real Men Wear Pink

The King is Awesome. Surattanians love the King. How do you show love for the king? (And you had better or your in big trouble)

Well you can start by having his likeness somewhere in your house when you first walk in. You can also respect your Baht since every piece has his picture on it. Whereever he is (or his lovely queen) do NOT be disrespectful. Do not drop his picture or step on it or be rude. If he comes up in conversation, just smile and don’t say anything. ((Do not talk politics unless you’re ready for it..which is never so just don’t))

But the best way to show your love and respect for Thailand’s favorite guy is to wear PINK! Everyone wears pink. Men and women. And men drive pink mopeds! So all you proud guys who are too macho to rock the pink can finally break down and show your true colors!

In fact, every day is a special color day:

Monday – Yellow
Tuesday – Pink
Wednesday – Green
Thursday – Orange
Friday – Blue
Saturday – Purple/black
Sunday –  Red

Now you don’t have to go around sporting an entire ‘color of the day’ outfit. Most people don’t, but they do have something small to represent it. Sometimes a belt, tie, handkerchief, etc. When I get to, I’ll wear a shirt or skirt of the color.
You will find yellow to be a really popular color here though. Mostly mustard or sunshine yellow.

The king’s color is truly yellow because that was the day he was born on (monday).  But with recent political uprisings, colors are starting to have new meanings. The pro-king colors are yellow, and the not-so-pleased-with-things people wear red. The king is recently associated with pink because he had some health issues and came out of the hospital wearing a pink blazer. This initiated a new fashion trend for pink to support the king’s health.

People associate their ‘lucky’ color with their day of birth (weekday). I was born on a monday so I share the color Yellow with the AMAZING King as my Thai Lucky color.

 

TukTuk

Tuk Tuks

If you’re British its took-took, if you’re American it’s tuck-tuck if you’re Thai, it’s tuk-tuk and you pay less!

A tuk tuk is a tiny truck that is a cheap ‘taxi.’ It looks like a tiny version of a moving truck with the back as benches to sit on. You can get them easily any time during the day. They tend to be scarce after 10pm. If you are ferang (white) and coming off a boat or bus, they will try to charge you 100B (which is only $3)..but that’s B.S. Before you get here, learn how to count and don’t let them charge you more than 20B (“Yee Sip Baht”). Even that is a bit pricey but work with what you can. If they still try to charge you too much, walk a block or two and grab a tuktuk there.

TukTuks have their own schedule. If you are on one with other people, don’t expect to get to where you’re going first. And you’ll see the locals paying no more than 10B.

The longest tuktuk ride i took unintentionally was a 30min ride around town when all I needed was to go about 7 min drive. It was only 15B but it took up my lunch hour.

Anyway, TukTuks are the way to go if you don’t have a car or bicycle. But if you use them to get everywhere, it’ll start to be costly. If you are here for a while, I recommend a bicycle or motorbike. I personally have a bicycle and love it.

 

I’ll post a picture of a TukTuk when I remember to take on.

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