Settling into Thailand [Part 2]

On Monday I sent Part 1 of my Thailand update. When I went to Thailand I was in straight up in survival mode; had a million Q’s about life & love, no answers. I spent a lot of time alone and slowly started to feel my intuition again. It took the rest of the year to completely feel like me again, and I let the unfamiliarity guide my healing.

I share it a year later because it shows you who I am and what I found important or funny enough to share with my family. In 2017, I’ll share more personal stories so you can see how I use my life to LEARN. Dropping layers is the only way I want to spend time with people from here on out. Hope you gain something useful or at least have a laugh – with me or at my expense. I welcome both. :)

Here’s Part 2: Thailand update:

  • I had a few days where I felt crappy and all the feelings I had this year came flooding back: grief, sadness, loneliness, trying to Figure It Out. I slept and spent the day inside, and in the evening forced myself to interact with the world. I went downstairs and chatted to the young building staff. As soon as I stepped into the world of people, I was rewarded with kind and friendly interactions. A lesson I keep learning is: connection helps, even when I least feel like it. It made me feel more like myself when I got outside, talked to people, rode a rickshaw. Another lesson:

Doesn’t matter where you are – Thailand or Mars – healing is a process.

I let myself feel things fully without judgement, that eased some pain.

resized-pv2xuSometimes you can look fly after crying? :)

  • I took two, count them, TWO 5-hour bike tours in TWO days. What the gigantic F. Why I did two in one weekend when I haven’t ridden a bike in ages, is beyond me. By Friday night I was JELLY. But surprisingly, I was ecstatic to get back on, on Sunday. Loved it. Being on a bike made me feel in control again. As SOON as I got on that bike, and I mean from the moment my feet hit the pedals, all my fears about Thailand, my worries for the future – work, love, happiness – ALL of it faded away. I went from feeling helpless and confused in a foreign place to FREEDOM. Wind in hair, foot on pedals, ass in air freedom. I don’t know how else to say it.

It was a feeling of control and centeredness I haven’t felt in months. I know I have to get a bike here now. I also understand why people who can’t drive or get around feel depressed – the feeling of being able to TAKE YOURSELF somewhere, to transport – is totally wrapped in freedom. You go. You journey. You go somewhere that matches your insides. I loved riding that bike.

resized-uvzryNot the highest-level sentiment, but they do like their bikes!

  • One bike tour was countryside – we stopped at a primary school, a leprosy colony (yep, surprised me too), and an orphanage. The kids at the orphanage had SO much love to give and received my affection so easily. It’s like not having parents and being raised with 30 “siblings” made them more open to love; like they knew it was precious so they received it so fully. I felt raw and open when I got there so I let myself feel it all – love, affection, sadness, longing. I wished I could’ve stayed longer with them. It’s 100% true that when I’ve felt sad/lonely/bad and chosen to love or connect with someone, especially kids, I feel better. The second tour was a city tour with temples, but it didn’t hold a candle to the first. It’s always about the PEOPLE.

orphanage-yesSeriously cute kids at the orphanage. We took 20 different photos.

  • Had a 1:1 chat with monks. I happen to live right next to the largest monk university in Chiang Mai; their campus is bigger than Bangkok’s (nanna nanna) but I pray to God Bangkok scores more points in style; Chiang Mai is basically a collection of track pants and t-shirts. “Monk Chat” is where monks practice their English and you ask Q’s. I mostly had questions about me, but after learning they don’t eat after 12pm (WHAT) I obviously had many more: “But don’t you get cravings?” “How long did it take to get used to that?” “You can’t even eat a small snack?” “What if you mess up and eat something?” “But exactly how hard is it to not eat past noon?” “Can you tell me specifically what you did to survive that year?” One monk, Nanta, was pati ent and laughed a lot. The other monk, Varjaya, said, “Let’s take a selfie!” I did a real life LOL. It’s crazy to see monks with iphones and Macs and see that even in the purest, most spiritual setting, technology is present and necessary. If they can’t eat after 12pm, I’ll bet their Internet rules are INSANE.

monk-selfie-yesRight after we took this an elder monk told us it was inappropriate. I felt bad when I realized we crossed the (invisible) line, but I also wanted to see how the monks handled it – there’s so much grey area and they’re young men, 18-20 yrs old. Can’t imagine how hard it must be to work with your self every day on this path. Not for the weak hearted, that’s for sure.

Nanta was so real about everything. He said it took a solid YEAR of it feeling hard before his body got used to not eating. After that, “It’s a habit. you don’t even think about it.” I took away this:

our minds make us suffer. Our thoughts keep us in a spiral of freaking out about things

(Omg I can’t eat after 12pm! Omg there’s a girl but I I can’t touch her!)

When you control your mind – through wisdom, through awareness of WHY you’re doing this – you suffer less.

I realized how much I did this when I repeated mental loops and stories from the past, or fears about the future. I’ll do a separate post on this idea because it’s huge. Monk chat is M-F 5-7pm and you better believe I’m going back with more Q’s.

  • Got my beauty treatments done the day I landed. I don’t think this will ever change! I could be in Siberia googling the closest place to dye my roots.

roots-yesI really had to school them on how to straighten ethnic hair

  • Went to Bor Sang, where they make bamboo parasols. I watched women hand-make them with such precision that I have a new respect for “artisanal” and “hand-made” and why it raises the cost.

umbrellas-bor-sang-yes

  • As I settle in, I’ll decide how long I want to be in Chiang Mai or if I want to travel more (southern Thai islands, Cambodia, Bali, etc.) I want to balance exploring with just being. Part of me deeply craves magic and adventure and spontaneity, and the other part needs quiet mornings reading and writing and routine. Ah, the dance between my different sides. I’m doing both so far and it feels good. Healing comes when I can trust my body and intuition, and listen to whatever she needs in the moment. So far, she’s spot on.
  • Ultimately, I’ll visit an elephant farm and spend a day bathing and being with them for a day. CANNOT WAIT. I’ll also go to Doi Ithanon National park (hello Candyland), and my German bike tour friends told me they’re doing this zipline, “Flight of the Gibbons“. I am definitely booking that. UPDATE: I did all of the above and had a blast.

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  • I turned 34 on Saturday here and spent both Sat AND Sun celebrating because with the time zones I had two full days of birthday! I celebrate it for a week anyway in the U.S. :) I wrote in the morning, had a delicious meal, danced outside, got a lovely massage, then went to a jazz club. It ended up being smooth jazz (too smooth for me actually, it put me straight to sleep) and then had a good long chat with Abs about turning 34. Felt good to connect with her on our special day. (Writer’s note: Abha is my twin sister.)
  • I’ve never felt this before, but the presence of American tourists here irritates me. I know I am one, but perhaps it’s the the type: backpack, visibly dirty, wearing prints, looks like they just woke up. Obviously, I expect tourists, but my body instinctively moves away from them right now. You don’t have to wear printed pants, you’re not required to look dirty. Sigh. I know how I sound. I also definitely have a reminder in my phone to pick up “printed pants from night market” so there’s that…

That’s the first update and wow is it long. I’m never doing that again. :)

(Note: I actually never did write another update like this!)

Love you.
Xx Ishita

PS: Dogs wear sweaters here. No joke. I’ve seen a million dogs and only 3 cats. 3.

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