(Shrine to Buddha along Walking Street in Koh Lipe)
Thailand Blog – Part One of Three
My first introduction to Buddha was through my late father who had a sandstone Buddha in his NW London living room. As a young girl I was taught that you had to keep Buddha high up in the room as a sign of respect and rub his belly for good luck. Buddha always stood out against the more traditional style of antique wood and Holbein memorabilia. Buddha always made sense to me even though I was brought up as a United Synagogue Jewess. Roll forward to today and I too have this Buddha in my living room, in his memory and I regularly cleanse him just to keep him looking ‘slick’. He sits, up on high, together with a second laughing Buddha, also a keepsake from dad’s Estate. There are lots of Buddha’esque touches to my home.
So going to Thailand this Xmas just past was not only a trip long overdue on my ’Phuket List’ (sorry, I couldn’t resist) but also as a mini homage to my dad teaching me about Buddha and our combined interest in Feng Shui, alternative medicine and food. This trip was my first two week holiday without working for about nine years. It was long overdue and whilst all my doctors told me to rest, when you are self-employed with only one household income, you can’t. Regardless of whether Cancer is trying to destroy you or not. This trip was significant and symbolic for me, beyond words.
I don’t know anyone who hasn’t fallen in love with Thailand. Even if they were flown out of the country because of a life-threatening condition or ended up in the wrong hands at a Full Moon Party, the Thai people and everything that encompasses the country’s passion for colour and simplicity, touched their heart and soul. And I have to admit, my trip has inspired and changed me in a most profound and unexpected way.
As a linguist, I am fascinated by language. Language tells you everything you need to know about a country. What the Thai language shows us is that life IS simple and straightforward. A Thai person might not understand you when you are ask for a “Black Coffee” but they will understand “Hot Black Americano”. Specific and correct. With the emphasis on the “Hot”. Ditto a “Lemon and Banana Shake” is understood as a “Banana Shake with Lemon”.
Myself and my two buddies, AKA “Two Knobs and a Tourist” (and you can guess my title within this dastardly trio), laughed and laughed at some of the misunderstandings during our two-week visit. No-one understood us if we said “No Milk” – moreoever, we had to say “No Mil”. “White Wine” became “Why Why”. You can imagine the chaos that ensued.
I think my greatest linguistic memory from my trip relates to a wonderful lady we met at our hotel in Koh Lipe. Koh Lipe is 14km from Malaysia and one of the lesser known Thai islands situated within a protected National Park. It is quite spectacular and 100% worth a visit, as an aside. The lady I met is called Thung. She was my masseur at our hotel (Idyllic Concept Resort), is a mum of two and a qualified product designer. She hasn’t seen her children who are in Bangkok, for two years.
Thung has something about her. I am very sensitive to people’s energy and she is a lot more than she would ever let on. Not only is she an incredible masseur, but she is also a healer and a Guardian Angel. Curiously, her sister had the same cancer as me and also had an hysterectomy. So she knew how to massage me without hurting me: she knew this instinctively as well as practically.
The first time Thung massaged me she said how strong I was and kept telling me! And that I looked so young, maybe 31, because “Mi-ran-da is so INJOY (enjoy)”. If we go back to the theme of language, Thung and the Thai language are absolutely right. When you “enjoy” something, you truly should be “in joy”. As I type these words, I am crying. Not because I am sad but because Thung’s words and her inner power really had a huge effect on me. So the theme for “Two Knobs and a Tourist” became all about “in joy”. Particularly after a few sherbets… I haven’t laughed so much in years. I haven’t felt so myself (and obviously been so very, very funny) in years. I haven’t rested for years. I was truly in the utmost “in joy”.
There is a lot to be said for being “in joy” in our day-to-day existence. Whilst this is the first in a series of three blogs about Thailand, I could write and paint and dream all day about how the Thai colours, sights and experiences overwhelmed and delighted me. I brought a little piece of “in joy” back with me, together with half of MBK market. But that gives too much away. More to come from “Miranda INJOY” over the coming days about this fantastic trip. For now, go and “INJOY” your Thursday! I am off to rub Buddha’s belly… he too deserves a bit of “INJOY”…