Welcome to a continuation of my Thai story. Sights seen in the next few days in and around Bangkok included the Grand Palace, the floating markets, an orchid farm, Wat Po, Wat Arun, the temple of the reclining Buddha and of course the vibrant Ko San road and the area around it where we kitted ourselves out in the ubiquitous Thai fisherman’s trousers (which, I have to say are the most comfy thing you can wear as they are airy, light, dry easily and are comfy) punctuated by sampling Thai foot massages, food and of course a massage at the world renowned Wat Po massage centre.
All too soon it was time to start the first day of the course on the Sunday. By this time the restaurant staff recognised me every morning, greeting me with my room number and a cheery good morning or S̄wạs̄dī ka. Even now I cannot imagine a nicer start to the day than a breakfast of fresh fruit on a sunny morning by the river whilst watching the world go by followed by a quick trip upriver on the river taxi with the locals from the dock beside the hotel and a five minute walk to class. One little downside though was a fish market while not so bad in the morning could be pretty smelly by four pm on our return.
All very nervous we gathered in the shop downstairs before going up to our classroom for the morning. Our principal tutor for the week was a lovely lady called Aaay who started with a full demonstration which was then broken down for us to start practicing before lunch in our own private group. All too soon it was time for lunch which was local cuisine cooked onsite. Being allergic to fish meant that I communicated that by way of a handwritten note shown every day to the staff. I guess most of the time it was vegetarian food but you could never be sure of what was being eaten some very weird flavours indeed, knowing that the staff were cooking something that I could eat every day meant that I felt obliged to eat there but I am proud to say I stuck it for the week and mostly enjoyed it. Though most of the others chose to eat in a local English cafe. After lunch we graduated into the main room where we had three students to each teacher in a room of students from many different countries. My teacher was a very sweet man with a bit of English. It was his task to demonstrate the moves and then we could copy him whilst working on each other. It was tiring as we really had to pay attention and we were all ready to leave at four pm. So off to the river taxi it was and up to the pool to relax before dinner and a foot massage. The next two days were more of the same, while we got to grips with thumb positions with a treat of a Thai compress massage in a proper salon environment on Tuesday evening.
Bangkok sunset in May is around 7pm, a brilliant sight to see as were the lightning storms where the lightning lights up the sky moving from example the west around to the east or take a rain storm, you get soaked but are completely dry within the hour, the rain clearing the air so different to Summer rain here in England.
On Wednesday we had a school free day instead we went to the Siriraj teaching Hospital and medical museum. The museum is worth visiting as body parts preserved in formaldehyde from accidents are on view as well as muscles if you are into that, I was facinated. We were then collected by minibus and brought to one of the biggest food markets where we were shown different types unavailable over here followed by a short trip to a beautiful cookery school. After refreshments it was time to learn how to make Thai green curry and a starter which we then ate, an interesting interlude from class. The next day it was back to perfecting our techniques for the important Wat Po exam which we needed to take. Techniques were slowly coming together and we remembered our routine a bit more with prompts from teacher. During that time the hunt was on for tiger balm to buy as it was used liberally by the instructors to calm down bruises. I happily found out that my teacher made and sold it onsite, perfect for a souvenir and presents for those at home. Even now it is brilliant for those bruises from bootcamp and doesn't smell too bad.
On the way back to the hotel later that afternoon I witnessed a funny moment of a monk throwing a scathing look at a roaring drunk near the fish market, one of the very few times whilst there I had seen a monk break from the solemn expression they so often wore. We used to see the older monks around all the time but never saw them being anything other than solemn.
Friday morning dawned and with that the nerves and hopes that we would all pass. When we got to class one student had to pull out and so I ended up having a local senior student who looked to have undergone a sex change. It was one of the most painful massages I had there but also the best. She was an incredibly lovely lady and so easy to talk to. The others seemed wary of her... strange I thought...A short time later we were called into the exam room and it was time to start. we had to complete the whole massage on each other. One hour later and it was my time to relax and be massaged. Then a nervous wait before being told we all passed. Celebrations ensued and our certificate presentation. Then it was off to get ready for a riverboat cruise that night. Chatuchak market the next day, cram in some more local massages and home on Monday morning. Our English Certification took place a few weeks later. So there is a hint of what can happen on a course abroad. Thank you for reading. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it.