Tuesday, September 30, 2008

namaste ronald?????

"Namaste" is a term (often used in yoga) that, loosely translated, means:
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* "the Divinity in me recognizes the Divinity in you," or
* "the Love in me recognizes the Love in you," or
* "the Oneness in me recognizes the Oneness in you."
.
...you get the idea.
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when you greet someone with "Namaste," you are usually facing them. you bow slightly, in his/her direction, with your hands in the "prayer position."
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in thailand, there's a whole lot of bowing going on.
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nothing, however, could ever prepare you for this:



what do you think that ronald mcdonald is saying?


* the saturated fat in me recognizes the saturated fat in you?
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* the wardrobe-challenged me recognizes the wardrobe challenged you?

* the processed me recognizes the processed you?

* the u.s. in me recognizes the u.s. in you?

* the bad-hair day me recognizes the bad-hair day you?

.

...and on, and on, and on...

mandalay beach resotel

yesterday, it was back to koh samui (waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa). since it was only for one night, i decided to hit "chewang beach" where the party-life happens. the photo (below) is of the main drag.

you know that it's americanized when you see the seven-eleven, burger king, mcdonalds, etc.

the clubs had names like "captain kirk's" and "the library" and "charlie's angels." i ventured out to the chewang beach club. they had fireworks, fire shows, etc. (after all, it was a tuesday).
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below is the room at the mandalay beach resotel (is it a resort? is it a hotel?).

below is a picture of the walk to the beach.

and below, of course, the beach. it was fairly mellow, actually.


barracuda


the picture (left), shows a school of fish being influenced by a barracuda (you prabably can't see the barracuda in the picture, but you can tell where he is.
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if you jump into the water with a "bread ball," you can also attract a school of fish.
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donna, you remember how you introduced me to that in hawaii (back in 1981).

Monday, September 29, 2008

injury report

* blister on rt. foot (9-23), koh samui, attempting to jog on beach in sandals.

* thumb jam (9-28), koh nangyuan, attempting to kill a spider in the bungalow (failed).

* small cut on right ring finger (9-28), koh nangyuan, during a cave dive.

dive recap (4 days, 8 dives)


on koh nangyuan, there is literally nothing to do, but dive.
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okay...that's a lie.
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last night i broke down and got a beach-side thai oil-massage. i've been reading a GREAT book called "the handbook to higher consciousness" by ken keys.


...life is soooooooooooooooooo difficult, at times.

...aaaaaanyway...


4 nights, 8 dives



* 6 boat dives (3 cave dives), 2 shore dives

-hu wong pinnacle
-light house
-green rock
-chum porn pinnacle
-red rock
-white rock
-shore 1
-shore 2
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* sightings:

-gray reef sharks
-black-tip sharks
-yellowfin barracuda
-titan triggerfish
-redcoat squirrelfish
-barrel sponge
-fusilier (the ones that spell words on "finding nemo")
-blue lined grouper
-great grouper
-clownfish (nemo), sea anenome (sp?)
-andaman butterfly fish
-blue ringed angelfish
-rounded porcupine fish
-remora
-sea urchins
-coral shrimpfish
-gold saddle rabbitfish
-humpback parrotfish
-two colour parrotfish
-scaly giant clam
-lace coral
-finger coral
-tiger crowrie

...and on, and on, and on.

smiles from slovenia


andreja & ozzy invited me to have a singha (beer) with them at the beach bar.

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son holiday from slovenia, they do business (jewelry, silver) in thailand. andreja was getting her open-water diver certification.

last day





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..

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last day

if it was my last dive,
if it was my last day,
i'd make the most of everything and blend into the Play
______________________________

* today is my last day on koh nangyuan.

* the goal is to savor every breath, every sound, every taste, and every feeling.



a walk around the island

the walk around koh nangyuan is, at times, "steep."




















as you explore, you'll often find yourself walking on boardwalks that are pretty-much held together by sticks.

sometimes, it's a bit of a drop.

.

sometimes, the sticks break.



but... if you want to make it to the top (where everybody takes everybody else's picture), you've got to make the trek.







at the summit, in the late afternoon.



Sunday, September 28, 2008

easy divers


"easy divers" is the name of the company that runs the diving operation on koh nangyuan. can you read it on my wetsuit?

pictured above are alex & virginia, two new buddies from the netherlands.

the walk to breakfast




the walk to breakfast (which included in the dive-package) looks like this.

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on the snorkeling side of the beach, 6-10 baby black-tips sharks swim every morning. some people say that they've snorkeled with the sharks.
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it's hard to see, but, below, there's a little dorsal fin about 10 meters to the right of the rocks. the waves made it harder to see the sharks on this morning, since it was wavy and cloudy.
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since i haven't seen anyone snorkeling with sharks, i've opted not to try it alone.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

"shark!" is universal

it doesn't matter where you're from, or what language you speak...

...the term "shark!" is universal.
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if you choose not to speak at all, the proverbial "hand on the head, fingers up" (you know, jimmy buffett "fins' style") is a good way to say "shark!" in sign language.

and the meek shall inherit the earth

meek, strong, friendly, safe.
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these are the words that come to mind, as i try to describe thai culture.

if given the choice...

if given the choice, of:

1. a cold shower, or
2. no shower...

...you'll likely take the shower.

there wasn't an abundance of hot water on the island.

chum porn pinnacle


first boat dive:

* gray reef sharks (2)
* giant grouper
* yellow fin barracuda (schools of hundreds)
* blue-ringed angelfish

"chum porn pinnacle" was a huge pinnable of rock in about 30-meters of blue.
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my divemaster for the first dive (pictured) is "leann" (from canada).


learning point: when you are alone, you usually get buddied-up with the divemaster, which makes it like a private dive lesson.

willy, you would have loved this trip. there were anywhere from 2-6 divers per trip, and we had the boat totally to ourselves.

human, Be-ing

human, Be-ing

form: a little relative, another way of seeing
formlessness: the State that waits for every human, Being
__________________________

* we can experience Formlessness, in form, by eliminating in-form-ation.

* these states occur during times of non-thought, as in meditation, massage, scuba, etc.

-inpired by "a new earth" by ekhart tolle

green tree snake


so far, there have been two snake encounters.
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the first one was just lying there, in my path. i wanted to pick the first one up, but thought twice...
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...but i couldn't resist, and touched it's tail and it went slithering away.

the second one was a small one, and crawling on my porch. when i went to take its picture (left), it crawled onto the window, down the edge of the bungalow, onto a tree.
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i've since learned that these are "green tree snakes." they are green and black, and are not poisonous.

ten-thousand shades of blue


ten thousand shades of blue

ten-thousand shades of blue
ten-thousand shades of green
ten-thousand shades of you
ten-thousand shades of We

frist day on nangyuan

today, i left coconuts, hopped a taxi to the fast-ferry, and got to nangyaun in time for an afternoon shore dive.
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the deal is... a bungalow for $13 and change -- if you pay for two dives per day. since i hadn't been diving in years, it took a little thought (about two seconds) to make the decision to stay for 4 days, here.




the bungalows are up in the woods, on the side of the mini-mountain.
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this is the view from the porch bungalow.

neutral buoyancy



neutral buoyancy

fly through crystal, colored water,
breathe and "let it be"
you're at Home, but not AllOne, at
neutral buoyancy
______________________________

* a state of Complete Connection, or a feeling of Oneness...
.
...or whatever it is...
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* it's a feeling that comes without effort, but goes away as soon as you think...
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(yes, today was the first dive)

on napkins & driving

one of the first things that i noticed in thailand is that they do not waste napkins. in thailand, you could survive for a week on the amount of napkins that u.s.a. subways hand out with a 1/2 sub.

now that i've seen the "wrong side of the road" driving for a couple of weeks, it isn't as scary.

i mean, it looks scary, but i haven't seen an accident and there are virtually no dents on cars in samui.

watch

this is the first time (since my army days) that i've had to wear a watch, consistently. i have no cell phone and no laptop, since it went down on day 1 of the trip.

when you live your life out of a backpack, everything has its place.

you also learn to pack everything that you need for the short trips, when you leave the backpack in the room.

lesson learned: you can survive with less than you think!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

good morning, yoga

koh samui, thailand


picture this:

you wake up tomorrow at 6 am, and stumble out of bed to the sound of nothing (okay, maybe a rooster crowing and a stray dog barking... but you get the idea).

a few steps take you down to the water.


you've got a private yoga/meditation area (actually, this is the massage area, but i modify it when i'm the only one in town who is awake).




you sit.



you breeeeeeeeeeeathe.

Bliss.

(the cool thing is, we all can experience this, anytime, any day -- in the mind)

at this point, i have to thank mohit and the yoga family at sangrock yoga in charlotte (see the blog entitled "sangrock yoga" in august, 2008) for their yogic inspiration.

mohit, please e-mail me a couple of pictures to upload to the sangrock blog-post.
thanks,
Lenny

excursion to angthong national park

another day, another speedboat trip to the islands that surround koh samui.

this excursion was to angthong national park, which is famous for its numerous, uninhabited islands that seem to explode out of the powder-blue water.

first stop: snorkeling (although the visibility wasn't great, the coral was awesome).


second stop: sea kayaking (below is the launch area)


third stop: lunch in the park (monkees, food, beach, etc.)

forth stop: hiking up to the caves




this was a trip. if this hike were in the u.s.a., there would be lawyers waiting at the end to cash-in.



no waivers, no "signing your life away," just climb and pray!





as you can see (from the sweat), it was a workout!














fifth stop: the green lagoon


as you can see, the lagoon is green. it's a salt lake.

we threw bread to the fish, and watched barracuda eat those bread-fed fish. the woman in the picture is judie, from france. she and i were paired-up as sea-kayak partners.

sixth stop: lookout point





just a glimpse of the view, but pictures could never do it justice.




tomorrow, the trip will take a decidedly "dive-oriented turn." i've decided (yes, willy) to spend a few days at koh nang yuan, to dive by day, and catch up on some reading by night.



once there, i might not have access to the internet for several days, but i'll do my best to keep y'all up-to-date.



if you aren't doing anything, zip on over to koh nang yuan (see the blog entitled "koh nang yuan"). you can catch a fast-ferry from koh samui for less than $5.00! the accomodations are covered in my dive package. as they say in australia, "no worries." :)

happy birthday, ta

last night, after using the computer at coconuts, i was on my way to my bungalow when ta (the coconuts receptionist), invited me to join her and the coconuts staff in celebrating her birthday.


it was a feast of food, laughs and bridging the language barrier.




pictured from left (front to back); right (back to front): gran, ta, alex, len, meow, bee, koy, add and piek

to the staff at coconuts:

thank you for a fantastic stay.


smiles,
lenny

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

vir...us

is it possible that the earth's method of planetary homeostasis is called nature?

is it possible that (mother) earth is a "body," and that we (humans) are a virus?

when you travel, you notice that human beings tend to leave a mess, wherever we go. the amount of litter on beaches, streets and parks (whether it's thailand, brazil, korea, cancun, cozumel, jamaica, haiti, rhode island, etc.) is startling.

current events show that we're also trashing ourselves (economically speaking).

what are we doing to ourselves, on a physical level, via consumption?

if there is a planetary cancer, what would you advise mother earth do about the vir-us?

on a more positive note, isn't there a such thing as "spontaneous remission," and isn't it possible for us to change the course of dis-ease?

could YOU be one of the planetary helper-cells that help facilitate earthly wellness?

if each of us picked up one piece of litter per day, we'd clean our planet of more than 10-trillion pieces of litter in less than a month.

new digs @ coconuts


when in a different country, one needs to experience different things.

i moved out of "cocooning," into a little bungalow at "coconuts," which is further down the beach at bo phut.

from the outside, it looks like this (left):





from the front porch, it's a waterfront view (below):


the room at coconuts is about half the price of the one at cocooning, and the dining entertainment is off the charts! fire shows, music, etc.
in addition to that, the boat for tomorrow's excursion leaves from the beach, just a blink away!
more to follow...




tomorrow.... the national park tour.


first impressions

it's only been 5 days, but here are my first impressions of thai culture:

1. friendly
2. hard working
3. strong, yet meek
4. appreciative
5. grateful
6. accommodating

every massage therapist should spend time here, if only for the experience of a gazillion new ways to treat the human body.

thai massage gone wild

after yesterday' s boat excursion, i went for a walk down bo phut beach, and decided to get my daily thai massage. ..the sun was setting, and i was booked-in for the last beachside massage of the day.

after fielding the usual questions:

therapist: "were you from?"
me: "u.s.a."

therapist: "you by yourself?"
me: "yes."

therapist: "you have girlfriend?"
me: "no, khap kun ka." (translation: "no, thank you.")

anywaaaaaaaay... she asked me "what i do," and, i said that i was a massage teacher, here for thai massage training.

before i knew it, it was "let's massage lenny time," as the other therapists decided to show what they'd learned at school.

the rest is thai massage history.

soooooo... thank you to the beachside thai massage therapists:

nuch, aeng, tuk, da, fon, and tip.

koh nang yuan




"koh nang yuan" is another island that i just had to visit. koh nang yuan bills itself as "the only place in the world where three islands are connected by a stretch of white sand."




it is a diver's ultimate dream.








willy, if you are reading this, you would simply LOVE it!!





in fact, i can get a room here for $400 bat (that's about $13.33) ...if i pay for two dives per day. they supply all of the dive equipment, etc.









the upside is that there is NOTHING to do here, except relax. the place shuts down at 8 pm every night.
should i go for it???

mae haad



our boat excursion group had lunch at "mae hadd," which is a diver's paradise on koh tao.

in the distance, you can see the world famous "koh nang yuan," which will be described on the next post.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

snorkeling at koh tao

koh tao (tao island) is located just north of koh samui. today's excursion (by speedboat) made yesterday's driving adventure look like a walk in the park.



the boat took on sooooo many waves that i actually donned my swimming goggles for the ride.



a few of the other passengers chuckled, at first, but by the end of the ride everyone was looking to buy a pair of goggles.











once we got to the island, well... you can see what it was like.

better than six flags

the wildest ride in the world... better than the wildest roller-coaster at six flags... ...is driving in thailand.

here's the way it went down:

the car that they delivered to me was a standard shift, which means that i would have had to shift with my left while driving on the left, while sitting on the right, while navigating with a brochure map. ..my conservative USAA insurance friends will be happy to hear that i did not attempt this venture, so the rental car company took the car back. ..waaaaaaaaaaa.

the hotel staff at the cocooning hotel & restaurant were sad that lenny wouldn't be able to drive around the island, so "tonwan" (barmaid/hostess/reception, pictured below) said that i should take her boss' car for a cruise. ..huh?

................................................from left to right (lat, lenny, tonwan)

you know... "hey, lenny, take the loaner." (uh, oh)

against my better judgment (sorry, jean and judy), i accepted the offer. ..please don't report this to USAA. ..i'll never do it again... promise!


anyway... picture this: you are driving on tiny, dirt-concrete roads. ...insane drivers (cars, trucks, and scooters) are coming toward you and passing you from behind. ...left is right and right is wrong. ...cows are in the street. ...some vehicles would have to be categorized as "scooters-plus" (the base is a scooter, but a contraption has been built on the top... in order to add an extra wheel... in order to carry lots of stuff (including a family of 16).

there's more: the signs not only aren't in english, they aren't even in the same alphabet! ...not only that, but the letters look like a bunch of squiggly lines!


below are some of the sights:












soleil bungalow resort

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chewang beach (below). ..this is the tourist beach on the island. ..the night-life is supposed to pretty outrageous.

chewang beach

lookout point (below), looking back on chewang beach



"lamai" (for serenity, on the south-east of samui) is pictured below.


how can you not have lunch in a city named "thong krut" (lunch $3.53 u.s.). ...the boat (pictured below) acted as the view from the restaurant. ...it did not appear to be available for hire.


upon returning to the cocooning hotel (and in need of a thai massage) it was time for a "singha" (beer) -- just to settle the nerves.