If there is one thing Thailand is famous for it is definitely their massage parlours both erotic and non-erotic. Now I have never had an erotic massage (Thomas might – but I am sure he would not admit it) but I have enjoyed Thai massage many times. Thai massage is bodywork that is performed on a mat/futon on the floor. No oils are used, as it is performed over loose-fitting clothing, usually provided by the massage parlor. During the massage you are placed into numerous Yoga stretches that flow into one another, the masseuse (usually a woman) kneads and compresses the muscles, while intermittently applying acupressure. You are suppose to be completely relaxed while receiving a massage but that can honestly be a bit difficult sometimes when the pressure on the muscles is too hard. Then you will swiftly have to say "bao bao" which means "soft" in Thai. I usually do that every time in the beginning when I receive a massage – that saves me from saying it after it hurts too much.
My favorite massage parlor in Chiang Mai is located next to Wat Umong (please see directions in the blog A visit to Wat Umong (forest temple), Chiang Mai). When approaching Wat Umong you will see a big yellow sign on your right hand side saying "99". This means that the Thai massage costs 99 baht for one hour and is basically as cheap as you can find it in Chiang Mai. The house itself is open in the front and the roof is made from leaves which helps make the atmosphere very relaxed. There are always around 12 ladies working in this massage parlor, but in the weekend you might have to wait a little while to get a massage as the place is very popular among the Thai residents of Chiang Mai.
Thomas and I enjoy going there on the weekends when we are not working and usually get one and a half hour massage at a time enough to make you completely tranquil and forget about any stress you may have had during the week. It is definitely worth a try!
Well, I’d been a smoker for roundabout 20 years when I stopped last month. I now know I will never, ever smoke another cigarette. I hear some of my old friends laughing at me when I say that….
My secret? I’ll let you into a sure fire way to quit forever at the end of this post.
I’d tried many different ways before, from Nicotine Gum to patches, reading the Allen Carr ‘Easy Way to stop smoking’ book five times, and going cold turkey. I have managed on a few occasions to stop smoking for anywhere from a month to six months, but then the usual situation started me again. The simple fact that I have programmed myself to not enjoy socialising, or ‘having a drink’ as much without a cigarette.
In the past I had, even after 6 months of not smoking, still been mourning my lack of ‘fun’ when going out, as I continuously spent my time enviously looking at other smokers thinking “I can deal with not smoking at all other times, but I just want one cigarette with a drink”. The result had been that I had conviced myself not-smoking was not worth sacrificing going out, and therefore friends for. I’d deviously talked myself back into the ‘benefits’ of smoking.
I’d begun to get quite depressed recently (the last couple of years) with the fact that despite my relatively healthy lifestyle in other ways, I was still trapped by the smoking habit. It was the only thing I could think of that controlled me throughout my waking hours.
A month ago I decided enough is enough and I stopped. Since then I have had insomnia, irritability, stress, and the desire to hide away in the house forever. I have pitied myself, constantly thinking “I’m boring…my life is boring…I never have fun anymore.” But…I know it won’t last forever, and I feel 100% healthier already. Tina and I have admittedly been at each others throats, but then we often are anyway – it keeps it all fun!
So, I said I’d let you into the secret for stopping smoking at the end of the post, and this is it:
Decide you want to be a non-smoker, and don’t smoke again. It might also help if you enjoy spending time alone as noone will want to be around you for quite a while.
I decided to write a small blog on colonic irrigation/ hydrotherapy. For years I have suffered from constipation and have been drinking herb teas, drinking lots of water and eating fiber and I still feel constipated from time to time. So after having been recommended to try colonic irrigation by an acquaintance of mine (who has done it 10 times and was very happy with the result) and reading lots about the topic on the internet I decided to try it out.
For those of you who are not aware what exactly the term covers – here goes: Colonic irrigation is the process of flushing large amounts of warm water into the intestinal tract, reaching the upper portions of the bowel. Basically you are cleansing the colon by passing several gallons of water through it with the use of special equipment. It is similar to an enema but treats the whole colon, not just the lower bowel. This has the effect of flushing out impacted fecal matter, toxins, mucous, and even parasites that often build up over the passage of time.
As you have probably already guessed the procedure it done by inserting a speculum the size of about 1 centimeter in diameter and 15 cm long in the bum much bigger than I had expected. Now I have often done coffee enemas myself at home in the bathtub but believe me – a coffee enema involves a thin tube whereas the colonic irrigation involves a much bigger instrument inserted in your rectum.
At first I entered the room which was serviced by two Thai women working at The Chiang Mai Ayurvedic Center (http://www.detox-chiangmai.com/). They asked me to go to the bathroom and take off all my clothes and wrap a piece of material around me. After this I was instructed to lie on a bed in the middle of the room on my side. The end of the bed was standing up against the colonic irrigation machine. During colonic irrigation, a speculum is passed into the bowel through the rectum. This is attached to a tube, which leads to the colonic machine that pumps temperature-controlled water into the colon at a controlled rate (they basically asked me when it was uncomfortable for me). It is important that the right amount of water is used, as too much will cause discomfort and too little will be ineffective. The temperature should ideally be body temperature but I think it was a bit warmer than that.
The amount of water in the intestine will wary from person to person. Most people can hold between two and six liters at any one time. The amount you can hold is also determined by your psychological state so to speak. Getting lots of water sprayed into your intestines makes you feel like going to the toilet and you may not like lying on a bed surrounded by strangers feeling like you are going to empty your bowel all over the place ïŠ. The girls at the clinic told me that many people only like to have a little water sprayed in every time. This means that the process will be repeated many more times.
Filling the intestines with water generates peristaltic movement and you begin to expel the water along with fecal matter back through the tube and into the machine. The fecal matter is flushed out through a viewing tube, so that what is eliminated may be monitored. Quite often, unsuspected parasites are expelled, along with very old fecal material, very dark in color, which may have been in the colon for years.
During the treatment, one girl was holding the speculum in its place in my rectum and monitoring whatever was coming out with comments like "ohhh I think you have eaten mushroom" and "that must be passion fruit seeds" and the other girl was massaging my stomach to help dislodge impacted fecal matter. Unfortunately for me hardly anything came out and the girl who was first holding the speculum seemed to be assuming that the other one massaging me was not doing a proper job- so she took over. They were both giving me what can only be characterized as a hard massage and I didn’t feel comfortable at all to be honest.
After one hour of having water pumped in and water massaged out I was allowed to go and use the washroom. I went to the toilet and washed myself. After that I went back to the bed to have oil injected into the rectum. They told me that the oil would kill any worms etc. But as you can imagine it is not possible to retain oil inside of you- so it all went into the toiletïŠ.
Once I had dressed they served me a green drink and another hot drink with was suppose to generate healthy bacteria. I paid 1200 Baht (the equivalent of 38 $) and left.
On websites and at clinics advocating for colonic irrigation it is emphasized that Anyone suffering from gas, bloating, cramping pains, acne and other skin complaints, arthritis, and a list of bowel complaints such as irritable bowel etc., may benefit from colonic irrigation. Removing toxic matter is suppose to relieve you and can lead to the alleviation of symptoms such as arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, candidacies, and a host of other illnesses.
Some allopathic practitioners claim that colonic irrigation flushes out essential electrolytes and friendly bacteria from the bowel and that it can be dangerous. Practitioners counter that this can easily be remedied with the use of probiotics and that in any case, these possible disadvantages are easily offset by the benefits of having large amounts of putrefying matter, harmful organisms, and parasites removed from the system.
Now I had expected to feel immense relief but instead I had pain in my stomach and the pain continued the next day and I was constipated and had no bowel movement at all. But I had already paid for 3 treatments in advance and therefore I wrote to the clinic and asked them for advice. They responded very kindly and told me that I could get the money back that I had paid in advance or try to see if I felt better after another session. I chose the first option. I try as much as possible to listen to my body and due to the fact that my body reacted with pain, I decided not to do it again (for now).
I might try colonic irrigation later in life but momentarily I think I will stick to self-administered coffee enemas and raw food which so far has kept me happy.
You may also be interested in the podcast interview I did with the owners of Pun Pun (Peggy & Jo), where we discuss some of their views on sustainable living & organic farming, and talk about the courses they offer on their Pun Pun Organic farm outside Chiang Mai.
If you live in Chiang Mai, or even Northern Thailand for that matter, you may well already have heard of Pun Pun restaurant. It’s one of those word-of-mouth epidemics that spreads so fast that before you can recommend it to someone, someone else has got there first! Pun Pun opened a few months ago in a small area towards the back of Wat Suan Dok, which itself is located about 2kms along Suthep Road to the West of Chiang Mai’s old town.
Pun Pun was set up by a Thai/American couple and sells organic vegetarian food, grown at Pun Pun Organic farm in the countryside outside Chiang Mai.
So what’s the food like? Absolutely amazing. Even for a non-vegetarian like myself it beats most other restaurants I have been to in Chiang Mai. Almost all dishes are 35 Thai Baht – about $1 – and the fresh fruit shakes are about the same price (The Passion fruit is recommended!) .
Atmosphere-wise, set in the middle of the Wat Suan Dok grounds, monks are continuously slowly wandering past, and the backrgound sounds are often interspersed with the monks chanting nearby. Finally, the friendly, smiling staff makes it one of our favourit restaurants in Chiang mai!
More info for those that need it:
Pun Pun’s opening hours are 9-7pm. They have a delivery service that costs an extra 20 Baht ($0.60) on top of the menu – the phone number for this is 086 573 7049 – the delivery service only runs from 9am-5pm. To get to Pun Pun, head to Wat Suan Dok then walk down the road to the left of the main temple towards the back of the temple grounds, it is on your right near the back. Pun Pun’s website – www.punpunthailand.org.