OK, traffic is really, really bad here and I'm understating the situation. I went out this weekend on my own and if you've ever experienced crosstown New York City traffic you have some idea of what I mean. But you have to add dozens of motorbikes, scooters and other assorted vehicles that zip in, out and through the narrow spaces on packed streets between the cars, trucks and buses. Every so often (but not often enough) it opens up for a few blocks then backs up again. On the other hand it's interesting to observe (and participate in) how people use turn signals (a lost practice at least in Chattanooga) and other drivers let them through, how there's a system of cooperation on some level that lets people get where they need to be without accidents every block.
On the other hand, or hands, I went for my first traditional Thai massage on Sunday and it was terrific. I went late morning and actually experienced less traffic. Thai massage has been described as having yoga done to you - the masseuse twists and turns your body to release blocked energy. It also involves pressure points and tissue work. You can look it up on wikipedia if you want a more extensive explanation, but the most important thing is that it feels really good during and afterwards. Most of you are familiar with it, I'm sure. Anyway I went to a place called Health Land (thanks for the heads-up, Dao) which was very modern and Asian and impeccably clean. I had an awesome 2 hour massage for...$20, which included a generous tip.
So there in a nutshell was the yang and the yin of my weekend which included also studying Thai on my own (Rosetta Stone and a Thai language website), waking up to watch the Champions League Final on TV (roughly 1:30 AM to 3:30 AM Sunday Thai time), yoga, grocery shopping, getting gasoline for the first time (hey - how many times have YOU bought gas in Thailand?), talking to my parents on Skype and watching the sunset from my balcony.
I also ate at the restaurant next to my condo for the first time. It is a beautiful spot and the food was excellent. I had a choice of eating outside which would have been like eating in a tropical garden but it was a little too hot so I opted for the air conditioned dinning room. The menu was in Thai and English and one of the waiters spoke English so that simplified the process. I tried to order the house specialty curry but the waiter asked if I liked spicy food - I told him yes but not too hot and he very diplomatically suggested another curry. Nice touch. I ended up ordering grouper in black pepper sauce and, as a starter, something called miang kuoy tiew, described as bite sized wraps of lettuce and rice noodle sheets filled with bits of street noodle ingredients. Don't ask, it was just a hunch - it turned out be quite spicy and absolutely delicious. Shape and size of a sushi roll but no rice, rolled in a noodle and soft and crunchy in the mouth. The grouper was excellent too. I followed it up with a very un-Thai chocolate ice cream. At least I don't associate it with Thai food, maybe I'm mistaken.
I also realized, not for the first time, that I am very far away. I am doing fine but I miss you all.