Sunday, May 10, 2009

Relaxation and Rehabitation

A rare albino sea turtle at the Thai military Sea Turtle Conservatory

Hawksbill sea turtle babies, born April 20

Thai carriers... foreigners are not allowed to tour (could leak valuable secrets!)

A young doctor rests in the only air conditioned room on the hospital floor

Common "kwit deow" dish

Pai checks his phone during a traditional Thai massage

Pai enjoys his massage

Ra treated me to my first true Thai massage yesterday and it was everything I could have dreamed it was! She took me to her favorite place near the house that she often visits when she needs a little recuperation. It costs 100 Baht (about $2.50) for a one hour massage. They start at your feet and go all the way to your head, working out kinks and threatening to strain something as they use their whole bodies to dig into your muscles. This place also used a warm herbal pack that they beat and rolled over your body to calm especially tight muscles. Luckily they give you some airy 'pajamas' to wear because the herbal bundles leave a yellow residue. Ra left me to my devises as I was getting rubbed down, giving me a chance to chat it up with my masseuse. The people love it if you can speak some Thai and before long we were all joking that I was her new daughter and she my new mom! When she discovered the tattoo on my leg she immediately gasped and called her friends over. She said I was good luck and proceeded to kiss and hug me intermittently. Eventually, in effort to see the whole thing in its entirety, she undid my pants (not shy about it either!) and I soon had three woman around me gawking while I was half awake enjoying the massage. Needless to say, I will be going back there soon and visiting my new 'mom!'

Today I got outside of Chonburi for a little bit. Pai took me to his house where we eventually picked up his sister and uncle and went to the Queen's Hospital near Pattaya where we helped her move out of the room she was living in. In Thailand, doctors often spend 2 years living in a government hospital after they graduate to hone their skills, and get free housing. Poo (Pai's sister) had finished her one year and was going to another hospital. I got absolutely drenched in sweat trying to help her pack and wondered around the hospital ward until I needed to find a place with moving air to subside the never ending supply of sweat that soaked my clothes. The hospital was a bit creepy, to say the least, and I was definitely an unusual sight for the locals. Poo showed me the one air conditioned room I could take some solace in but one of her friends was already calmly napping in said location. Being a photographer, I just couldn't help myself!

Since it was nearby we all decided to go check out one of the large military schools/bases near the area that housed a large carrier and several other battleships. Thai tourists were all over the place as they flocked to the giant boats to take their free tour. Unfortunately, being a foreigner I was not allowed to go onto the boats! A large sign protested my arrival, announcing "Foreign visitors may not enter unless they have permission from the Thai military." We asked one of the guards clothed in fatigues if I could go in and he quickly shook his head 'no.' Oh well, I never have been a big fan of the military anyway.

Oddly enough, also on the military enclave was a sea turtle rehabilitation and nursery. A learning center provided information to curious visitors and tanks and tanks of sea turtles of all ages awaited the guests. They hatch the turtles and after 3 months release them back into the sea. Not the prettiest of habitats for these guys but I do support the idea, plus I got to touch one! Felt the ocean for the first time since I arrived too. Bath water! I can't wait till I can actually jump into the waves and immerse myself in the warmth. Wiped more humid sweat from my brow and got in the car to head home. Delicious dinner, then off to bed.

I start at the school in 2 days! A bit nervous and don't know what to expect. There has already been a request I take out my jewelry, don't want to entice the young children to poke holes in their body. I wonder what kind of English teacher (krue) I will be... my Thai is coming along nicely as well.

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