Revitalised in Paradise

BaanSign

So, I left you as I was arriving at the Baan Hom Samunphrai “The House of Sweet Smelling Herbs”. http://www.homprang.com/

The two founders and carers for this place are Homprang and Christopher. I fell in love with Homprang the moment I met her. Unfortunately for me, she is married to this great guy Christopher. The first thing she did when she heard of my recent ailment was fix me a herbal rice soup with a mug of herbal tea. I was given a room and rested until dinner which was delicious as are all the meals here. Just being here on this two acre property is a treat. Lawns and trees, a pond, and old wooden houses that they bought locally, took apart and reassembled to Christopher’s designs with common areas on the ground and sleeping above.

BaanBuild

My room was upstairs in this building.

MedSala
The Meditation Sala where I played my flute.

InsideSala
Inside the Meditation Sala.

When I arrived, there was a class of four thai massage students in their last week. Three French and one American. (Classes are limited to eight students.) In my two weeks here, people have come and gone as students and as paying guests. We have our meals at a long table so that you get to see everyone as least at those times. We’re nine kms outside the centre of Chiang Mai, so, people don’t just drop in. Occasionally, someone will come all this way just for a massage. It’s worth it.

BaanDinner
This photo is unfortunately blurred. Sorry. It does give you and idea of dinner time. Standing is Christopher. The second person in on the right side is Homprang. Lots of young women around me at that time. That pepped me up.

My first massage here was on my second day. It was a ‘two hour full body massage’. Well, it went for two and three quarters of an hour and was one of the best therapeutic massages I’ve had in my long career of enjoying what life has to offer. None of my massages here have been less than two and a half hours. The credo here is to keep going until the massage is done. Nit, the woman who has been my massage therapist is this thin little woman who is very strong with incredible endurance. The first three of my five massages were two days apart but I found that I needed an extra day between for my body to fully integrate the changes. My last two massages included being massaged with hot herbal compresses during the second half. Want to melt your bones? That’s the way.

I must remember to mention the herbal steam baths I have been relishing every evening. How am I going to get one of those into my backpack?

Plunge
This is the plunge pool beneath the room where you receive massages. The door in the back leads into the steam bath.

I haven’t said much about Christopher and Homprang because there is so much to say about them and so much that can not be said about them. Homprang is this ball of energy and love who moves gracefully about with the ease of one who is in harmony with existence. She makes one smile in wonder. There is a brief bio at the bottom of the home page for their website. My next to last night I finally got Christopher to tell me how they met. He gave me her whole bio and it was a story that if you saw it in a film you wouldn’t believe it. Christopher is this soft spoken American poet who lived much of his life in Britian and is a wealth of fascinating knowledge about Thai culture and life. There’s a link to some of his poems and a brief bio on the homepage. The two of them join us all at the evening meal where we relax and wander in conversation. I am so happy to be one of their friends.

It only took me two days here to begin feeling sprightly again and every day since has been a day of increasing vitality. The last two weeks have been full of good company, loving care, transforming massages, delicious food and a peaceful environment.

If you are ever in Chiang Mai, visit this place. You will be happy you did.

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Springtime for Kundan and California

I have gone through four or more drafts of my travel update without settling on the right format to describe my journey. However, the title was too good to pass up and if I don’t write soon, I’d lose the chance to use it.

Last week, I spent three days at Harbin Hot Springs ( http://www.harbin.org/intro.htm ) in Napa county two and a half hours from my sister’s house in Chico, two hours north of San Francisco. If you have even the slightest chance of going there, please take it. It’s located up a fully wooded valley and is veeery relaxing. The centre is the main pool area. Six pools: a swimming pool that was a pleasant temperature for doing laps and fooling around. A heart shaped soaking pool. A cold pool. Sauna and steam rooms. Then, a large warm soaking pool about five foot deep. Next to it, the hot pool and above another cold pool. There are large decks for sunbathing and hanging out. The hot pool is 102+F (39C). The sign says to begin with no more than 2 minutes. I tend toward one minute. Then, off to the cold pool for a short dip. A pause for a long drink of my electrolyte enhanced water and back to the hot pool where I found that I was immediately enjoying the deep relaxing heat. I would do this circuit three or four times.

About timing of your visit. I arrived Thursday midday and left Sunday. The difference in population of the pools between friday and saturday was considerable. One way around it: I found myself awake at four thirty in the morning and went down to the pools. Only two other people there. After my rounds, I returned to morph into the most relaxing puddle of Kundan in my bed.

Other attractions are a number of varying degrees of difficulty hikes around the large property. Fabulous views. Many quiet spots. The restaurant is informal with a deck looking out on the wooded valley. I shared a table with some very interesting people.

There are events happening most nights and, of course, yoga, massage and other bodywork. I chose to have a Watsu session. This was a new experience for me. Watsu is described as “water shiatsu”, though, I would say that that is much more than that. The session happens in a shallow, maybe four foot deep warm salt water pool. I had a crick in my neck and a tight lower back, so, Patti, my practitioner, said that she would give me a gentle session. She put velcroed straps just below my knees to add floatation, then, I just lay back in her arms and let go. There was gentle massaging of my neck and lower back but mostly it was gentle movement of my body through the water stretching it in various ways. I felt totally supported. About three quarters of the way through the hour, my head lolled against her cheek and I suddenly felt like I was a babe in my mothers arms. My heart melted. Wow, wowww, wowwww.

And, it even released my neck and back.

On top of all that Harbin has to offer everyone, I also met up with a couple old friends. Sheelu was visiting and the Ramadeva lives there. Ramadeva teaches Feldenkrais classes twice a week and does other work. I first met him when he was the lead facilitator of the first Mystic Rose that I participated in. That day, he was walking the hiking trails looking for people who needed assistance. Nice work, especially on a cool spring day. Oh, and, did I mention how relaxed I was at the end of only three days. Truly and oasis.

So, that was the most recent treat of my journey in Californialand. Mostly this has been a time of enjoying being with my sister, brother and sister-in-law, as well as my nephews and nieces. I managed to bump into some friends along the way and make new friends as well. My sister Mary, in between quilting and playing bridge, has been attending a class about Rumi’s poems. I went along to a couple class meetings as well as a couple informal gatherings. The leader is a beautiful woman who is passionately absorbed in the poetry of Rumi and other Sufis. A great way to touch one’s heart. While in SLO town, I got to sit and chat with my brother John in the morning before he went off to work and spend time in the afternoons at the breakfast counter talking with my sister-in-law, Stephanie when she got home from work. It’s such a pleasure to just be together with each of them. John and Steph, had just bought a vacation home at Lake Shasta on the California/Oregon border. We loaded up a trailer and made a stop at Ikea on the way. Then, it was moving in and cleaning up (I am now an expert Ikea assembler). Next weekend, I go up to the Lake House again for Memorial day weekend and, then, head south to SLO again for the month of July.

In all, it’s just been a very cruizy time. Oh, yeh, there was the spring garden tour. I’ll be uploading some photos to my flickr pages.

Cheers