The week of teaching Level 1 Thai Massage to a group of Nursing Assistant students began well in the morning but took an unexpected turn over lunch. On the busy street next to the school a student was hit by a car as they crossed to eat lunch at the market. The group of students was very distraught and worried for their friend and all went to the hospital to be with her. Fortunately diagnostic tests showed she had no broken bones with only a cut on her head, a headache and a swollen eye. She was kept at the hospital overnight for observation and released Tuesday afternoon. We are all very relieved.
Then on Wednesday another student fainted in class and was taken to hospital and kept for observation overnight due to a pre-existing health condition. TMC staff handled both situations incredibly well. Their professionalism in dealing with the teachers in training and students under this kind of pressure, as well as their compassion for the students, is commendable.
Despite these incidents, it has been a great learning experience teaching Thai Massage to this group of young thai students. Most of our students have never given or received a Thai Massage. When asked if they liked being taught Thai Massage from foreigners they shared with us that they thought learning from foreigners gave them a chance to practice english (we have A LOT of fun with this), they describe us as friendly, and they think we are less strict than Thai teachers. That got a laugh from our TMC supervisors.
Friday afternoon the students completed a full body practice on each other and took part in their graduation ceremony at the end of the day. The two students that had not been with us for the week were well enough to attend the celebration with us and their classmates. One of the students brought a stunning flower arrangement as an offering for the Buddhist alter that he had created himself. Some students were in tears by the end of the ceremony and thanked us, sharing that they were sad it was over and that we had to part ways. They gave each teacher flowers and a thank-you card printed with their selfie pictures. We gave each of the students a handmade thai elephant zipper pouch with a massage balm inside purchased from Wat Panwhaen.
This week I also had to say goodbye to my great friend Peter who is the one that introduced me to David Lutt’s work and is the reason I returned to Chiang Mai to take the Dynamic and Osteo Thai workshops in January. We had a great celebration complete with Peter’s magic tricks at the rooftop restaurant, CNX bar, and ended the night with a street party on Nimmanhaemin Road.
This week I also went to Wat Mahawan for a Tok Sen treatment within the temple grounds. Tok Sen is a centuries old Northern Thai practice developed by Buddhist Monks. Rhythmic tapping over the body and acu-points (sen lines) using a Tamarind wood mallet (khone) and wedge (limb) creates a vibration that penetrates deeply through the body’s fascia and muscles to the bones. Tok Sen is used to release tension, reduce pain, induce relaxation, increase circulation, and facilitate healing. The tapping can be combined with other Thai Massage techniques such as kneading, pressing, stretching, twisting and rocking.
The temple’s massage space is an open area with a collection of chairs used for foot massage and raised platforms for thai massage and Tok Sen treatments. When I arrived several people were in various stages of receiving foot massage, thai massage, and Tok Sen treatments. It was a wonderfully chilled atmosphere. The tapping sound of several Tok Sen treatments happening at once created a soothing, rhythmic dance of sound for everyone in the space. At one point during my treatment, my practitioner and another moved in and out of synchronizing their tapping which gave me such pleasure, I am sure it doubled the positive effect it had on me. I left feeling so very relaxed, yet I was literally tingling all over!
The second treatment of Tok Sen that I received this week was from Joe Khumlee at Wat Panwhaen. As I walked through the temple grounds to the massage area, I stopped to watch a man creating thai dragons to adorn the temple out of metal ducting and tin snips. Some of the pictures included in this blog are of him and scenes within the walls of Wat Panwhaen. Joe teaches Thai Massage and Tok Sen out of this Wat and trains his staff for both Wat Massage Centres here. Joe’s Thai Massage and Tok Sen treatment was one of the best massages I have ever experienced. Joe blended Tok Sen, rhythmic motions, rocking, and pressure work for an otherworldly massage experience.
I learned Tok Sen two years ago from Thai Medicine Doctor Phor Mor Tannin Fainéant when I was studying at TMC in Chiang Mai. Since then, I have incorporated the technique somewhat into both my table and thai massages. However, after these treatments I have a deeper appreciation for how I want to expand my use of this unique healing modality with clients once I am back in Saskatoon.
I have already begun planning my next continuing education trip to Thailand and it will include a Tok Sen workshop from Joe Khumlee.
And a blog about Chiang Mai wouldn’t be complete without mention of food. And as I have quite the sweet tooth, the food I will talk about time is sweet. Passionfruit season is nearly done and I have done my share to ensure not a single passionfruit goes bad or uneaten. I have it with my muesli every morning, in shakes, juice blends, and in my homemade kombucha. The season for mangosteen is arriving and I hope they make it to the market before my return to Canada next week.
One of my favourite treats is coconut ice cream. But the street vendors here take ice cream to a whole new level serving it with sweet sticky rice on the bottom. My newest find is a vendor tucked in the back of the International Food Park. Here they take a halved fresh coconut, scoop out the fresh meat in strips and set the coconut ice cream in the hollowed out coco shell. Then they drape the fresh coconut strips over the ice cream and top it with either fresh, juicy, ripe strawberries, roasted peanuts, or sweet corn kernels. I suppose you could do all three toppings! There is always a reason to go back for more…