THAILAND: PART 2
Please click here to read the first part of my Thailand experience.
I am walking among the pineapple fields in a small seaside village called Hua Hin. I have no idea how I ended up here. I smoke secretly as I wander aimlessly. It is like I am not doing this harm to myself but to someone else. It is the 2nd day of my 10-day yoga retreat. Yesterday morning, we woke up at 5:45 am with the gong and started our day drinking, celery, cucumber and parsley water. After a 36 minutes long meditation session called Vippasana, we rested our sleepless eyes until breakfast.
The retreat is being held at Zen Yoga House owned by a French yogi called Fenua. Other than myself, the attendants are a British girl named Rebecca, a Russian who lives in Australia named Michael and a girl from Belgium named Chris.
Our breakfast is made of fruits. Only fruits. Longan fruit, mangoes, tamarind, coconut, rose apple and few more types.
Today instead of meditation we practiced saluting the sun ritual. 12 asana repeated 12 times.
For lunch we usually have rice and vegetables. After that we don’t eat again. I thought this part would be very difficult for me but it wasn’t as bad as I have thought. The only side effect is being constipated a little. The scratches on my leg, caused by the fire coral are still looking quite nasty. I put on some more turmeric cream, maybe it helps. I have 2 hours free until the class at 4:30pm. I want to read a little and then maybe take a nap.
This is what I wrote on my journal on the second day of my yoga retreat. In this program I attended with the dream of quitting smoking and gaining a more healthy discipline. Maybe I couldn’t achieve the cigarette part but I managed to lose 5 kilos in 10 days with the help of intermittent fasting. (IF)
Zen Yoga House is located just outside a small town called Hua Hin, 2 hours ride away from Bangkok. The 10 day retreat programs starting every new moon welcomes yoga lovers from every level. The mornings start with meditation or saluting the sun and in the afternoon there is an hour long class telling you about the history and the theory behind yoga followed with meditation or another class of yoga. The day ends around 7:30 to be started at 5:30 am the next day.
The first couple of days, not eating in the afternoon was hard but after the 3rd day, the metabolism adjusts to this situation as well. In this system that targets to give body the rest it needs, you can only eat in 5 hours’ window per day. After that you are only allowed to consume herbal teas. This 5 hours’ window can start any time of the day you wish.
Ours was between 8:00 am – 13:00 pm. If you want, you can even start at 2 pm and stop eating around 7 pm.
After practicing intermittent fasting in the retreat, I decided to make my own research on internet and discovered that it was being recommended by many health authorities such as dieticians and nutrition specialists. Apparently if you can keep it going, you can reap the benefits of it.
Anyway, my 10 days yoga retreat was challenging but quite rewarding. I was looking forward to learn more about Yoga and have the opportunity to learn it from a expert. At the end of the day I am glad I had the chance to do so.
Finally, the day arrived… I have travelled almost for a month within Thailand and never stopped in the Capital. I was supposed to meet Yonca, a close friend of my friend who is living and working there but sadly she had a flight back to Turkey on the day I arrived to town.
Instead she offered me the keys of her beautiful apartment and told me that I can stay as long as I want. She was also kind enough to leave the fridge full of Turkish breakfast material which I was longing for quite sometime. Olives, olive oil, feta and other cheese varieties, tomatoes, cucumbers. I felt like I was in heaven. The comfort of a real home was something I was missing for so long and her apartment gave me the homy feeling that was missing in the hostels and guest houses.
Also with the visit of my good friends Yesim and Onur, from Turkey, my Bangkok visit became even more worthwhile and uplifting.
Bangkok is one big crazy metropolis full of skyscrapers and shopping malls but that is not all…
The temples such as Wat Po and Wat Arun, the floating markets, the palace and the jade temple makes the city an eye candy for culture and history enthusiasts as well.
The crazy night life and sex tourism that has been shown in the movies takes place only in the very touristic parts of the town such as, Khoasan and Cowboy streets.
Frankly after seeing Bangkok I felt a little sad about the city being infamous about these aspects only. Bangkok has a lot more to offer to its visitors and has great street food. If you stay at the hotels around Khoasan Road then your Bangkok experience will be far from the reality. To experience the real city, one should visit the residential areas and beautiful parks such as Lumpini.
Ayutthaya Ancient City, just two hours away from Bangkok is a must to see as well…
Chiang Mai is one of my favorite cities in Thailand. With its cool climate and great coffee shops and restaurants the city’s vibe is quite positive and the art scene is quite impressive as well.
The old town surrounded by citadel walls is the heart of Chiang Mai. Here you can find great street food, great restaurants and sights. The oldest temples such as Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Ched Yot, Wat Mahawan. If you make a small trip you can see the famous Doi Suthep temple located on the hills of Pui National Park. Also Chiang Mai Canyon is a great spot to see and take a cool dip.
In Chiang Mai, I met Rafa, a Spanish traveler through Couch Surfing and we visited Pai together.
Later on, Rafa became my travel partner throughout Vietnam which I wrote a detailed piece about it. You can find the link here.
Ah Pai… Although it is located only 130 km north of Chiang Mai, it takes a 4 hours ride to get there thanks to 762 curves that you have to take on the road. Everyone who heard that we were going to Pai suggested us to take a pill for the car sickness and I am glad we listened their advice. But it was totally worth it. This little town is out of this earth with its beautiful nature and sights. Sitting by the river that is crossing from the middle of the town was just so relaxing I hardly made any sightseeing. Still I had the chance to visit the old Pai Bridge and Pai Canyon and china town located around Pai.
Since there are a lot of foreigners living in Pai, the night market is full of delicious examples of international cuisine. From sushi to empenadas you can try all of it for a very reasonable price.
Pai became my favorite place in Thailand and I am looking forward for another visit there.
To leave Thailand for Cambodia was hard but my visa was almost due and I didn’t want to pay a fine. So I took a minivan to Chiang Mai and took a night bus to Bangkok back. Although they oversold the tickets and messed up everything luckily my ticket held and they didn’t make me wait for the next bus.
After arriving to Bangkok and spending a few days more, I took a bus to cross the Poi Pet border to Cambodia.
The border was a total mess and there were many scammers around claiming to get you a visa on arrival but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I read on the blogs. I was expecting quite a mayhem like situation but I think everybody exaggerates a little. If you be smart and just follow the signs to take you to the customs office to acquire your visa and walk 50 meters down to get your passport stamped before you enter the country, you are quite safe. The Thai bus drivers lead you through the way and they already warn you not to listen to anyone who is telling you to follow them for visa procedures. So just look around, be a little smart and you’ll be fine.
After well organized and easy going Thailand, entering to Cambodia is a total shock but that is the subject of another day. 🙂