I came to Thailand to complete the Government Certified Training of 300 hours for Thai Massage teaching (GCT 300) at TMC School and to take two other workshops from David Lutt. Eight weeks seemed like a very long time to be away, but it sure flew by (at least on my end). We had our last vegan lunch at Kat Ruam Chok Market prepared by the culinary wizard Yupin. She made us special dishes for our last day. I will miss her great cooking. Thankfully, she gifted me her special Myanmar spice blend so I can do my best to recreate some of the flavour of her dishes at home.
Yesterday my six classmates and I, along with other TMC students who had completed their programs, took part in a big Graduation Ceremony. We gathered in a room, had speeches from Nai (who works in the TMC office ensuring that everything, and I mean everything runs smoothly), Jan and Noo (TMC owners), and a student representative from each class. All our teachers were present as well.
Jan and Noo had just returned from a trip to India and gifted their teachers with clothing that they all wore for the graduation. They all looked incredibly beautiful. Each graduating class gave our teachers flowers, so it was an incredibly colourful, and eventually tearful, celebration. We all felt the reality that come Monday morning we wouldn’t be seeing each other at class as we have for the past five weeks. We were scattering around the world hopeful that our paths will cross again.
Twenty two of us gathered at the poplar Riverside Restaurant for a dinner boat cruise up and down the Ping River that night, and then went out for drinks and dancing at the funky THC rooftop bar near the Tha Phae Gate. As Cathleen from Alaska said, “we had a juicy time!”
I managed to get some sleep and was ready to begin my last full day in Chiang Mai cycling the countryside with my guesthouse owner Noi, and two other Tip Top guests, Jack and Xavier. We began cycling south and west of the city by 8:30 am visiting great coffee shops (Mao, Praw & Plean, and The Old Cafe at Baan Kang Wat), had a great lunch at Praw & Plean, and wandered around Baan Kang Wat, or House by the Temple, an area comprised of small houses whose architectural style is uniquely thai-contempory serving as business spaces for artists, craftsman, gardeners and cafe/restuarant owners.
Next we visited the tunnels of Wat Umong, a 700 year old Buddhist Temple. According to local legend, the King regularly consulted a monk who lived at the Wat Umong Maha Thera Chan, a temple located within the old city walls of Chiang Mai. The monk used a tunnel to meditate in peace and quiet. As the city of Chiang Mai grew the monk found it more and more difficult to meditate. To accommodate the monk, the King ordered a number of tunnels dug out in a man made mound outside the city, in a forested area bordering Doi Suthep mountain. The tunnels were lined with brick walls, plastered, and painted with Buddhist murals. Shrines with images of the Buddha were added, giving the monk a new place to meditate in peace and quiet.
The Wat and its’ grounds are extensive and also contains a meditation centre which hosts meditation classes and Dhamma talks. It was the perfect day to a most magical Chiang Mai experience. THANKS NOI!
So it is farewell to my friends in Chiang Mai, until next time. In a few hours I will be on a plane to Seoul, Vancouver, then home to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (everyone I meet that asks me where I am from gets a kick out of trying to repeat that name back).