Thursday, August 9, 2007

Exploring New Opportunities on Koh Samui

My last day of teaching at Chalermprakiat School was June 29th. I repeatedly declined offers from the school to sign a one-year contract, stay for just a little bit longer, or both. While I did have a positive experience, a long-term teaching gig in one location was not my goal in coming to Thailand. Rather, I would prefer to secure very short-term positions (such as 2-4 weeks) in different cities in various countries. The aim is to travel and have the time to really get to know an area, rather than completely make my home in one place. Accordingly, I was beginning to become a bit restless after nearly 2 months in Phuket. Saying good-bye to my students was bittersweet. Although I was ready to move on and start my next adventure, the kids were upset and could not seem to understand why in the world I would want to leave, what in the world I could possibly do besides teaching, and where in the world I was going. I was touched by their interest in my life. Each one of my students wrote my email address in their notebooks with more care than I'd ever seen them take with their penmanship, and acted like snap-happy parents on prom night, taking countless photos of me and with me. To my surprise, a few even started crying when I said my final good-byes!

For Faren and I, the next segment of our journey was to more deeply explore our new-found interest in achieving good health through the means of holistic healing and alternative medicine/therapies. I’ve always had an interest in health, but it was nothing I had previously taken the time to delve into. This curiosity was sparked with Faren’s plethora of health problems that were misdiagnosed or not diagnosed as anything at all, were declared as incurable or “curable” with antibiotics, and really never quite treated correctly. I joined Faren in her research of alternative methods, from special diets to homeopathic treatments to emotional healing. We began to read books about fasting and detoxification, quickly learning that cleansing the body is a tried and true method of relieving illness and preventing disease.

We decided that we wanted to spend more time exploring this idea of holistic healing, a philosophy that views our mental, physical, and spiritual sides as being closely interconnected and all integral for complete healing of the body. There happen to be a lot of health centers in Thailand that combine fasting and detox programs with alternative therapies, and operate under the values of holistic healthcare. After e-mailing and corresponding with several health resorts, we decided to pick up all of our belongings and try our luck on Koh Samui, where the manager at one particular resort, the Health Oasis, had been particularly receptive to our idea of an “energy exchange,” in which we could complete a detox program at a discounted rate (in fact, my fasting experience requires a blog-post of its own) and stay at the resort (free of charge) while we interned. Coincidentally, the Health Oasis Resort is a very laid-back, loosely organized, and slightly under-staffed place—meaning the manager (also the resident naturopath), Graham, could use the help of two intelligent and university-educated interns. We've completed several projects, the latest one being the most interesting. Faren and I actually wrote, scripted, directed, filmed, and starred in a video that will be used to supplement the introduction to the fasting programs. We got a kick out of the filming and acting, so if nothing else, we will be left with a very entertaining video that, in its own way, documents our experience at the Health Oasis. Some of the biggest challenges: avoiding excessive cheesiness (a lot easier said than done), shooting scenes outdoors using an amateur hand-held video camera and trying (in vain) to find satisfactory lighting not too bright and not too dark, shooting outdoors in the blistering mid-day heat, memorizing lines and monologues, writing a script about something we were clueless about…the list goes on. I am currently in the process of editing it, on my own, as Faren left about a week and a half ago to spend the month of August traveling around Thailand with her boyfriend, Bryan, who has come to visit. In the past few months he has graduated from law school and taken the bar exam, so he’s in need of some serious rest and relaxation. You really can’t get much better than Thailand! Anyways, the whole process of making the video (especially editing) has been quite the learning experience, considering Faren and I have no experience in making a movie. I can confidently agree with the mantra that the best way of learning is by doing.

One thing I have forgotten to mention so far is the beauty of the Health Oasis Resort. It is located right on a gorgeous stretch of white sand beach, lined with picture-perfect palm trees, on Koh Samui island in the Gulf of Thailand. I practice yoga every morning on the beach and I swim in the waterfall pool at the edge of the ocean every afternoon. I do my work in a breezy open air room, just a few steps from the sand. So, although I may be looking at a computer screen, all I have to do is shift my eyes to catch the sparkling blue-green of the water. It is truly paradisical.

I have made some great friendships with the other people who work here and I'm learning a lot from them as they are all from different parts of the world, different ages, and at different walks of life. We do all sorts of things together, whether it be making dinner and staying in, playing music and singing along, going out to dinner on the beach, laying by the pool and chilling out, partying and dancing the night away with the tourists. The Health Oasis is located in a rather remote and quiet area of the island, which can be peaceful and relaxing, but sometimes leaves something to be desired. So when we feel hungry for some action, we venture into the beach town of Chaweng, which has something for everyone: swanky bars, cheap hole-in-the-wall bars, “girly shows” and girly bars, lady-boy shows and lady-boys dressed in elaborate costumes, a huge dance club called The Green Mango (my favorite hang-out spot), and many holiday-makers looking for a good time.

I plan on staying at the Health Oasis until about the 4th week of August, when I will join Faren and Bryan in touring Chiang Mai and Bangkok until Bryan leaves at the end of the month. Subsequent to his departure, our plans are indefinite, but it looks like we may finally be making our way out of Thailand come mid-September. We’ve both stayed here longer than expected, yet would not have it any other way.

1 comment:

Easter said...

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