Thursday, 30 April 2015

Big mistake!

After quite an uneventful day in Bangkok yesterday I decided to have an easy evening with a bath and a bit of down time. I read in the hotel blurb that if you go to the bar and order certain drinks before 8 pm you get a double and then a free one... well there's an invitation!

Ok, so at 7.45 off I went, armed and ready. I decided on a martini, but I hadn't realised how much gin they put in one. It was a triple.... and a wipe of martini.... I did have some food, honest, but by the time I'd finished the first martini I was pretty much done for. I managed approximately one quarter of the second free one before I had to call it a day.

During the day I did some shopping and bought myself some fruit for breakfast and as I have a lovely coffee machine in my room I thought that would be good enough rather than the overpriced breakfast the hotel offers. But the only problem was I couldn't find any coffee capsules.

I weaved my rather drunken way to reception and asked if I could have a coffee capsule sent up. No problem and they were incredibly apologetic. I then weaved my way all the way to my room on the 4th floor. There was a guy from housekeeping there and I told him of my situation - actually my initial thought was 'blimey, that was quick of housekeeping' but it turned out that he was just there to tidy up my room and turn the sheets down. It was with extreme embarrassment that he showed me the coffee capsule in the cupboard! Ah well... I asked if I could have another... better to brazen it out. No problem. Capsule no. 2 now in the cupboard.

I got undressed and washed and the door bell went. It was housekeeping with 2 coffee capsules for me. I brazened it out again and gratefully accepted them.

Tonight I'm not going anywhere near those martinis... no sirree!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Kathmandu and beyond

On Monday 27th we did get the bus to Kathmandu.

It was sad to say goodbye to Sonam and family, but also quite a relief to be starting the journey home. Poor Osel, who's 10, had been petrified overnight and insisted on Sonam erecting a tent in the garden. Apparently he slept really well after that.

Osel feeling happier in the morning

Sonam says goodbye as our bag is put on the bus

Mountain Man and I were really suprised at the lack of damage on the road from Pokhara to Kathmandu. There'd been 3 or 4 rockfalls, but that was it and no damage to houses that we could see. The worst bit of the journey was at Trishuli River Bridge where the road divides to go to Kathmandu, Gorka and India. Gorka was where the epicentre of the earthquake was and that road was closed and there were queues and queues of lorries and cars trying to get to India. It took us almost 1.5 hours to get through approx 1 mile.

The traffic jam at Trishuli River Bridge

But we did get through and on to Kathmandu. About 20k outside of Kathmandu we started to see damage, but frankly we were expecting far worse. I think the saddest thing was seeing people, who'd either lost homes or were too terrified to go back into theirs for fear of aftershocks, in their home made tents in every available space. I felt an overwhelming sense of emotion for them and it was hard to hold back the tears.

Home made tents littered Kathmandu

We arrived in Thamel and were met by Rabi's brother Raju who escorted us to our hotel, The Holy Himalaya, where the only bit of damage that I could see was to this plant pot.

Damage at Holy Himalaya

The staff were wonderful and hadn't lost their sense of humour.  There was limited electricity and water, no phone or internet, but the hotel was standing and my suitcase was there (we'd left it in Kathmandu as it had all my clothes from working in Thailand in it and were unnecessary in Pokhara), so felt very lucky indeed. The hotel didn't have any food, but there was a cafe open so we grabbed a snack and walked about a bit to see what Kathmandu was like.

Strangely, and I don't know if any of you have ever been to Thamel in Kathmandu, but here's a link to some photos for you if you haven't. If you have you'll know it's pretty crazy and full of people. Well here's some pics of Thamel as we saw it on Monday night.

Thamel street deserted

The main Thamel Chouk, usually so full of people and cars and motor bikes and vendors and tourists, empty

On Monday night at about 9pm I felt another aftershock. It didn't last long but was a reminder that this episode wasn't over yet.

On Tuesday morning the hotel made breakfast for everyone. We were so grateful for a good start. Then it was off to the airport at 10 am. I'd been assured that Thai Airways were flying, but you just never know and so as my flight was supposed to leave at 1.30 we thought we'd leave plenty of time just in case. MM dropped me at the entrance and I was on my own from then, while he headed back into Kathmandu.

Tribhuvan Airport is always pretty chaotic, but it was incredible. No-one really knowing what was going on. I was initially told my flight would be on time, but then there was a flight delayed from the day before so they had the slot that my plane was supposed to have. Luckily within the hour another plane came in from Bangkok and it was with some relief that my flight was called.

We had to wait for what seemed forever at the departure gate. By this time a thunder storm had appeared and I really feared for the poor people, already scared to hell by the earthquake now having to deal with this too. Luckily it seemed to clear pretty quickly, but not before quite a lot of rain had been deposited.

There were quite a few cargo planes bringing aid to Nepal coming and going and the police and army in attendance. Here's a pic taken at the departure gate with an enormous El Al cargo plane that looked like it was going to come into where we were standing. A scary moment!

El Al cargo plane not quite stopped!

Then we were called forward and into the plane and there we were, airborne, some 3 hours after we were supposed to have taken off. But I have to say not one passenger in the very crowded airport showed any anger or frustration. Everyone was patient and trying to share water and snacks. It was heartwarming.

The flight was good, with no problems and I succumbed to a gin martini with olives... it was just the best! When we landed in Bangkok again I had no problems and my bag... my trusty Beast... was 4th onto the carousel. I made a quick exit to grab a cab and at 10pm I arrived in my room at the Sukhothai Hotel. I was given the details of this place by my friend Nok and I managed to wangle a great deal if I booked 2 weeks in advance paying only 30% of the actual price. I'm so glad I did.

I've gone from a garden in Pokhara feeling the earth shaking under me to the lap of luxury. I had a bath and a glass of wine and got into bed at almost midnight having answered emails and posted that I was fine on Facebook.

My bath filling up... what joy!

Today I went to my favourite massage place, Health Land, which was about half an hour walk from where I am and for the grand price of 500 Baht (£10) I had a 2 hour, very painful, but very welcome, massage. Then off to Silom Centre for lunch and a walk around then time to get lost on my way back to the hotel. I eventually made it back in time for a swim and a relax by the pool for an hour.

I have to say that floating in a pool in a luxury hotel in Bangkok after the strange days before did strike me as being so far apart in experiences it was hard to make sense of it all.

And now? All I can hope for is that all the people in Nepal are safe. It was an awful experience but I'm so privileged to be able to come away from it and that's not lost on me.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Where I come out of my Facebook retreat

This morning, up at 6 to have breakfast, pack our things and get down to the bus station for 7.30 complete with gifts from Choenyi to keep us safe, only to have to come back 10 minutes later as the bus company informed us that no transport at all was leaving Pokhara today.

We'd had a couple of aftershocks in the night, the largest being at around 4.45 and I think they were waiting to see what happened today in case of more aftershocks.

At that point, and with emails coming in thick and fast, I made the decision to go back onto Facebook and finish my not quite 5 months Facebook retreat. I'd aimed to go back on in May anyway, but it seemed that at least this way I could be in touch with friends and family who wanted to know we were safe.

The morning was spent just hanging out until about 12.30 when the house started shaking again and we all ended up back in the garden. This aftershock was around 6 on the Richter Scale, but only lasted a few seconds... the main one yesterday was, according to Choenyi, about 6 minutes. The only problem was we were shouting for Sonam, because he hadn't come down from the kitchen at the top of the house and we suddenly became quite worried. As the shock subsided he came rushing down to tell us he was just about to come, when he realised the cooker was on and went back to turn it off. What a sensible man... a fire on top of earthquake would not have been good news!

After that no other shocks as yet and it's now just past 7 pm. We live in hope.

I had a fun afternoon teaching Osel, who's 10, how to juggle with some oranges we went and bought and then we played catch for a while with a small rugby ball and then piggy-in-the-middle with Mountain Man, which Osel found hilarious. His sister, Nyidhon, who's 2 and absolutely rules the house, meanwhile looked for all the naughty things she could do and if stopped stood and screamed. She kind of reminds me of a teeny Violet Elizabeth Bott (from Just William in case you don't know) who, if she didn't get her way would say, 'I'll thcream and thcream and thcream' and stamp her feet. Yes, Niydhon is a perfect Tibetan Violet Elizabeth in the making!

Nyidhon, the Guest House 'Manager', making her mind up whether a scream is in order!
MM phoned the hotel in Kathmandu and apparently there is no damage there and all is good, which is a relief as they are right in the middle of Kathmandu and what with the stories coming out you'd think Kathmandu had been raised to the ground, but it seems like it's only pockets of the city... though of course that's bad enough.

So tomorrow we try again and see if we can reach Kathmandu.

I'll leave you with a picture, taken on the first night here in the kitchen of me with Sonam and Choenyi after having made momos for dinner. They were delicious by the way!

Me with Sonam and Choenyi in the kitchen.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Not on my bucket list

There are many things on my bucket list, but being in an earthquake certainly wasn't one of them.

This morning, after breakfast, while Mountain Man and I were meditating in Sonam's meditation room it suddenly felt like a train was coming in the room. We then realised it was an earthquake and ran downstairs to get outside, making sure Sonam, his wife Choenyi and their 2 children and another guest staying here, Yuri from Ukraine, were all out safe. We stayed in the garden close to the ground waiting for aftershocks. After half an hour or more nothing had happened so we went back about our business and because I still had a few minutes meditation to do, I went back up to the meditation room, sat down and within 3 minutes it all started again, so rushed downstairs and back to the garden. It was gentler and didn't last so long, then one more and I decided after that it would be the end of my meditation for the day.

It was decided that we'd all stay safe in the garden for the day, so Choenyi and I set about making a tent construction from an old curtain and took cushions from the chairs.

Choenyi and I make a tent, while her mother and the kids look on

Her mother and brother turned up and it was quite a strange picnic party. Sonam made lunch for us all and we sat about chatting and sleeping and playing until late in the afternoon.


MM and I are supposed to head back to Kathmandu tomorrow by bus, right across the epicentre of where the earthquake hit. We went down to the bus depot to check on what was happening, but it seems like the bus is going tomorrow.

After all of this, talking about what we felt when the earthquake hit, it was like my body reacted to it almost like having a panic attack, but without panic. While meditating I felt my heart rate go up and a strange feeling in my gut. What was also extraordinary is that all the birds suddenly went quiet and it was like the whole world was still. And then came the sound like a train and then the building started to shake.

We have been so lucky. There have been many deaths in Kathmandu and the outlying regions, but here we are safe, with good friends, with food and water and we feel very blessed.

As Choenyi said to me at lunch under our homemade tent, 'Vee, this must be the strangest holiday for you?' I think that was an understatement.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Leaving Kathmandu

And now... hello from Pokhara!

We arrived after a somewhat delayed exit from Kathmandu. Our airline (Simrik) seemed to be last in the queue and I don't think we quite realised how small the plane was. It only took 15 people. The flight itself only takes about 25 minutes to get here though, so once we were up and out of Kathmandu it wasn't long before we were coming back down and landing in Pokhara.

We were met by our dear friend Sonam, who used to be the manager at the Meditation Centre we've stayed at for the last 8 years and who now has a guest house of his own, which is currently called the New Marco Polo Family Guest House, but I think a name change is in the offing at some point as the current name is left over from the previous owner.

We have a lovely large room, with the only bit that made us laugh is that we're in Room 101! We were originally going to sleep here and then go to the centre to join in the meditation course, but actually Sonam has a meditation room set up and room to do Qiqong, so we've decided not to trek the 40 minutes down to the centre, but stay here and do our own thing. But, after a delicious lunch of dal baht made by Sonam, we did pay the centre and it's new teacher a visit. It was lovely to be there, but it's so built up around the centre now it's not nearly as peaceful and quiet as it was when we first used to go.

On the way back we both said how pleased we were with our decision to do our own thing and we trekked the 40 minutes from one end of town to the other, stopping on the way for a quick cuppa and came back to the lovely peace here at Sonam's place. I could do with a day of just being instead of all this rushing around and tomorrow is it, before we take the 7-8 hour bus ride (one of our favourites) back to Kathmandu on Sunday.

Tonight is momo lessons. We've had 2 lessons before, but we still haven't quite got it so Sonam is going to give us another lesson. Third time lucky? I doubt it very much! Sonam makes quite the very best momos I've ever eaten and I'm sure we'll enjoy our cooking experience just like before, but once we get home, I'm sure that our momos will be no better than usual.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Arriving in Kathmandu

Hello from Kathmandu!

I had the most extraordinary arrival ever. I didn't have a visa, which is no problem in Nepal, you just wait your turn, pay your $25 US and then wait some more and give the Immigration your photo and they stamp your passport and that's it. The process usually takes an hour at the very least.

Our plane was one of 6 arriving at the same time, so we started off by circling Kathmandu for half an hour and waiting our turn to land. The guy I was sitting next to (a Nepali United Nations official, who drank 2 glasses of champagne, 3 glasses of white wine, 2 glasses of red wine and a brandy on our 3.5 hour flight and watched the film Paddington Bear on his TV monitor, which I thought was rather a strange choice for a grown man... but then he was pissed) muttered something to me about it being typical of Nepal and it was going to be a nightmare going through Immigration and I thought then that the queues for No Visa Immigration were going to be a nightmare, so even though I was second off the plane I didn't hurry cos I thought there was no point. Imagine my surprise when I got to the No Visa point when I was 2nd in line and the queue for the Got Visa point was already queuing up and around. I wondered initially if I'd got the right place.

Just as I was called forward to pay my money one of the other passengers (ostensibly the 3rd in line) said to me 'Is this the No Visa queue?' I replied, 'I hope so, I'm just about to find out.' He was pretty shocked too. I paid my money to the official and then was pretty much immediately ushered forward to the Immigration Officer, who also, rather unusually, smiled at me. 'Photo?' he asked as I gave him my passport and proof I'd paid my $25. I searched everywhere but I couldn't find it and just as I was about to give up and go and get one done on the online kiosk, another passenger in the now building No Visa queue found my photo on the floor and waved it at me. Boy, was I relieved!

The Immigration Officer thought it was hysterical and then, while he was trying to stamp my passport, his phone went off. I think he was saying something along the lines of 'No I can't talk now, I'm at work at the Immigration Desk' and then put his phone down handed me back my passport and grinned and wished me a great stay and a lovely day. So nice.

As I went slowly downstairs to wait for my luggage I saw my suitcase coming round the carousel so dashed to get it.

The whole process from getting off the plane to picking up my suitcase must have taken about 20 minutes max. Absolutely unheard of, especially at Tribhuvan Airport!

The outcome of this was that Mountain Man and taxi driver were sitting having a chat in the lounge while waiting for me and I was already outside the airport looking for them. Luckily MM glanced up and saw my hair and The Beast (my suitcase, which is bright turquoise) and came running out with a 'What the hell? How did you manage to get out so quickly? We thought you be at least another hour to an hour and a half'. And that was my arrival in Kathmandu.

Yesterday afternoon we went to the Mountain Tea Shop in Thamel so say hi to my old friend Binod - and this bit is for Lizzie - he's getting married! Photos will be uploaded when he sends me them, because I didn't have my phone on me (there are some things that are still left over from Chiva Som) and so he took them on his phone.  Then in the evening we went to our usual hangout Or2K for dinner with our other friend Rabi.

Today we went to Boudhanath to see Santa, who's MM's singing bowl pal, have my photo taken with the nun at the bottom of the steps of the stupa (which I also did last time I was here in October 2012), who insisted I had to sit heads touching with hers (last time she grabbed my head, but this time she wanted to put her arm around me) and then after a wander about had a bit of lunch. It was all lovely as always.

October 2012 - having my head grabbed by the elderly nun

This time - arm round my shoulder and touching heads

The largest bowl of incense I've ever seen

The Boudhinath at it's best

Now I'm sitting back at the hotel (Holy Himalaya) which has the hardest bed I think I've ever slept in... though slept is a complete misnomer as it was so hard I hardly slept at all... and taking a load off while waiting a while before we go for dinner. And then tomorrow it's off to Pokhara and our dear friend Sonam's place.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015


There's really nothing like it when people want you... and they want me back! Hooray! More time in Thailand next year!

Today has been bittersweet. Time to say goodbye to everyone and get myself packed. I leave at 5 am tomorrow morning so need to be up at around 4 to make sure I'm ready. 

I had one session with the HR person today and that went very well. Rather nice to be able to teach an HR person something new about communication even if we were doing Qiqong, which she seemed to enjoy.

I managed to sneak my camera in and even got a selfie (truly hideous photo of yours truly) with the head of security who's become my pal. I don't really have a clue what he says to me each day, as his English isn't great, but it's always said with a smile on his face.

The view down the street when I come out of my accommodation every morning. That's the sea at the bottom of the road.

Moi looking hideous with the head of security

The banyan tree in daylight

On my walk to work

The beach and the sea view

So that's it from Hua Hin. Next stop Kathmandu!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Almost time

After a really lovely couple of days where I had clients and my groups went very well and we also had Chiva Som's 20th anniversary celebrations, lots of sun, lots of sitting by the pool, lots of eating too much, I got invited out to dinner tonight by a very sweet Japanese holistic therapist. She decided on a restaurant down by the harbour in a part of town I've never been.

The place was quite a ways away, so we hopped on her motorbike and it was really lovely to have the wind in my face on such a warm night. We went to a Thai fish restaurant and ordered enough food for 4 or 5, so we ended up taking away more than we ate.

Of course I forgot my camera! Never mind though as she had her tablet and she took a couple of pics which I'm hoping to get copies of tomorrow.

Meanwhile I have had some kindnesses come my way in the shape of being given a new Chiva Som flask by one of the clients - I had one of the old style ones and was hankering after a new one, so now I have one of each. And also I was given a bottle of coconut oil by another client, after a conversation about how I needed my tan to develop a bit quicker otherwise Mountain Man, who has just got to Kathmandu, might well be browner than me and that would never do. I've had some lovely conversations with people, and what with being taken out to dinner tonight I reckon I've been doing pretty well.

I'm now on my wind down. Only 2 more days and then I have to be up at 4 in the morning to leave here to get my flight to Kathmandu on Wednesday morning.

I can't believe it's almost at an end.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Illegal pic

The clients are rolling in! No... not really... that was yet another of my exaggerations, but I have had 2 more wanting my services and they seem to have got a lot out of it, so that's good.

In fact the guy I saw yesterday rushed up to me this morning to tell me how well he slept and how impressed he was with me. Can't ask for better than that.

Yesterday one of the people who gives treatments wanted to swap with me i.e. she does a treatment with me and then I do some Qiqong with her. She gave me a reflexology session, which was fab and then this afternoon I did an hour's Qiqong with her. From this she has asked me to go to dinner with her before I go. How lovely is that?

It was while we were doing our Qiqong session outside in the searing heat (we were in a covered pavilion, but it was still boiling hot) that one of the receptionist's rushed out to tell me another client wanted my services after the Qiqong session. This was fine, but to be honest facing a client with an extremely red face from the exertion in the heat was not very cool. I tried to calm my burning cheeks down by flinging water at myself, but then I just got water down the front of my shirt and trousers... not my most professional look, however the client was so stressed out I don't think she noticed!

So now it feels a bit like I'm winding down to the end and in honour of that I took my phone with me last night to try and take a pic of the banyan tree that is ancient and utterly beautiful. They light it up at night and it takes on this eerie existence and looks like it was part of the film set for Avatar. You probably can't see the fronds in this pic, but they are truly stupendous.

The banyan tree at night

I'll try to get a pic of it in daylight, but might well have to hide my phone and wait for the phone police to pass so I won't get caught!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Not my finest hour

This morning I duly got up at 6, did my morning meditation and then at quarter to 7 headed on down to the Tai Chi Pavilion, which overlooks the beach, ready to take my class.

Only one person, who I shall call T, showed up and not long after we started T said she thought she was going to faint. I called the nurse (I was desperately trying to remember all my First Aid just in case), who duly arrived and pronounced T with low blood pressure and possibly low blood sugar (she'd had one glass of water before coming) wherein T announced that she has always suffered from low blood pressure and maybe the alcohol she drank at last night's party was affecting her (duh!). The nurse left, I got T an orange juice and she recovered enough for us to do maybe ten minutes of Qiqong. Not the best start.

However, all is not lost. I now have 2 more clients booked with me. I know one of them (I can't give names but she's very well known in Australia) will definitely be coming and she wants to do Qiqong cos she told me so at lunch today, but the other one? I'll have to wait and see.

Because I didn't have anyone booked this afternoon I took the time off and lazed around by the pool reading a book. Actually I didn't have anyone this morning either, so I lazed around on my balcony. It's a bit sad really cos we have to be available at a moment's notice if we're still in work mode so it feels like time off, but not really. Hence booking the afternoon out where I could leave my phone back in my room and not have to glance at it every now and then to make sure I haven't missed anything.

Basically, I still get messages, which I delete and I presume are from the phone company, but I haven't a clue as they're all in Thai. If the hotel phones me they at least don't leave texts so I get a 'missed call' and can phone back. I keep my fingers crossed that I'm not missing anything by deleting things, but I'm pretty sure I'm not.

Tonight is Christophe, the yoga guy's last night so we're having a bit of a get together in the restaurant. He initially asked me if I wanted to do the beer run again, but we decided it was less hassle staying in the hotel and being sensible.

And so my life goes on. Only 7 days left!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Where I get wet through

Today was Sonkran proper and it was good fun.

We started at 7 this morning by giving gifts of food to the local monks. I just made it in time as I'd been out the night before on the jolly to a local market with the yoga teacher (a guy who's just a touch older than No. 1 Son). We had a lovely evening eating, chatting and drinking beer and it was really nice to be able to have a night out and have a bit of a laugh.

After the monks left, the staff set about decorating the place. It looked beautiful. And then at 2 we had a parade. It was cozzy on and joining in, but one of the guests stood well back from the chaos of water throwing (Sonkran is traditionally the time when the Thai's throw water at one another or whoever gets in the way) and took pics so I actually have a few to show you.

The Sonkran Queen at the head of the procession

There I am in the middle of it all dancing away like I was at the Isle of Wight Festival!

Completely soaked through, but still dancing!

It was great fun and even having a hose turned on me and buckets full of water thrown at me was ok as the water was warm... I wasn't quite so keen on the guy that insisted on throwing freezing water. Luckily he only had a couple of small bottles! Guests and staff alike join in and there's no mercy shown whether you're a billionaire or a waiter.

Then tonight it was the Sonkran dinner. It was fab with all kinds of Thai New Year delicacies and there was a floor show of Thai Kick Boxing and dancers to keep us entertained. And I even managed to get yet another mosquito bite... ah well.

Tomorrow morning I have to be up and at 'em early as I'm teaching a class at 7 so I'll leave it there for tonight.

Happy Sonkran!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

A bit of home in downtown Hua Hin

Last night I hived myself off to the Night Market, but as it's Sonkran (Thai New Year) too, the market was doubly markety. Apparently the real 'fun' starts tonight when, because it's a water festival, people soak you at every opportunity, hence I opted for last night as I wasn't sure if I was quite ready for a soaking. It can get quite vicious with folk using water guns according to the newspapers and some high velocity water guns have already been confiscated by the Government.

The market was a bit like a Thai version of Portobello Road on a Saturday. You can buy lots of cheap stuff that you don't really want and eat quite a lot while you're doing it. Naturally I forgot to take either my phone or my camera, so no pics I'm afraid.

I didn't buy anything, but on my way there I passed a Tesco, so decided on the way back, just for old times sake, to pop in and get something to snack on. Instead of a loyalty card though you get a stamp a bit like the old Green Shield ones (now I really am showing my age). I didn't like to decline as it seemed like I was supposed to take it and be jolly pleased, so now I'm the proud owner of one, fairly insignificant looking Tesco loyalty stamp. Wonder what they'd make of that in the Tesco in Galashiels?

Friday, 10 April 2015

Half way

Today is officially my half way in my work experience at Chiva Som.

My equation didn't add up in the end as one client cancelled and then I got hundreds of mosquito bites... well ok, that's an exaggeration, but 12 is still a lot and at it's itchiest it feels like hundreds.

The one client I have had has booked to see me 3 times and is coming on really well. I also bumped into the head of HR today and we got talking and now she's also booked a session with me to come and do some Qiqong. It just so happens that her session is the day before I leave, when I officially don't have an office and am on holiday and no longer a worker, but hey, didn't think it was polite to decline as they're giving me an extra night here free of charge and a chauffeur drive to the airport to catch my plane, so fair dues.

I've spent some of my spare time reading novels from the library (saving my Kindle for when I'm on my official hols is Nepal): Home Truths by Freya North, which was light reading and perfect for sunny afternoons with not much to do; Close Relations by Deborah Moggach, which was slightly more intense and now I'm onto Bad Karma by David Saffier. It's not bad, just not brilliant, but it was the front cover that attracted me.

The rest of my time is split between sitting on my balcony just being and going to fitness classes such as pilates, aquarobics and gyrokenesis.

It would be nice to have more people who want to come and see me, but actually it's also ok as it is, so if not much changes over the next 10 days you won't hear me fussing.

Here's a selfie of me ready for going to the Mocktail Party (which happens once a week and where the guests can meet the staff and drink a mocktail or two), which as usual isn't such a great photo, but I thought it would give you an idea of nicely developing tan.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Uncomfortable equations

I am starting to pay my way as today I actually have 2 clients who've booked to see me. However, I noticed just before each client I also received a mosquito bite.

Now I'm worried in case it means that in order for clients to want to book I also have to get a mosquito bite first.

I really don't like that kind of equation, so I'm putting it out there... please could I have a different sign to guide people to book with me?


Pretty please?

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The serious business of getting a tan

Today was my day off and it was wonderful. I got a crap book from the library and, after breakfast, took myself off to the pool where I sat under the shade of an umbrella and had short swims until lunch. After lunch I did exactly the same. What could be better on a lovely hot day than reading in the shade, having the odd dip in the pool and then back to reading?

At 4 ish it was getting a touch cooler so I ventured out of the shade for half an hour, then took myself away from the pool, got changed and headed off into Hua Hin. I wandered around for about an hour and half... the only weird thing happening that I came across a Boots The Chemist downtown, which struck me as a bit incongruous. Hua Hin isn't the life and soul, but it had lots of shops and stalls to keep me amused. Then it was back for dinner.

Staying in the shade meant that my tan is progressing slowly, but I'm looking a whole lot browner than when I came... not that that would be difficult coming from Scotland where it was snowing the day before I left, though Mountain Man assures me that the temperature at home has been in the 20's so he's happy. Here it's been more like 37, which means it's difficult to stay out in it for long, hence spending my day umbrella-bound.

I'd be seriously pissed off though if MM's tan was better than mine when we eventually meet in Kathmandu, and I mean SERIOUSLY. It had better not happen... MM you have been warned!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Some Easter beach pics

 I actually managed to remember to take my phone with me when I went for my early evening walk (around 5.30 pm) yesterday. It's Easter here too and many people have taken to the beach. There's even pony rides for those who want. Sadly the tide was in so couldn't walk to the mountain in the first pic, so went a little that way then turned around and went back towards Hua Hin (2nd pic).

Towards the mountain

Pony rides on the beach

We had a lunar eclipse, or blood moon, last night when we were eating at the Easter barbecue. It was the most beautiful night sky and not only was the food great we were also given free glasses of wine courtesy of the management, which was lovely.

I've had a bit of work, but not much and today I've had no-one so I spent my time this morning doing aquarobics then eating to put back what I lost during exercise. The perfect combination!

One very sad story - they had 3 small live rabbits in a small pen in the foyer (which has no door, so you just come up the steps and straight into the hotel). Well they also have stray cats hanging around... there was only one rabbit left by last night and once they noticed what had happened they put a dome cover over the top. Sad that they didn't think of that before. It actually made me want to cry.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Five days already!

My presentation was pitched perfectly and went extremely well... that's because I was the only one there! This, apparently, is the norm as people are too busy having dinner or going to bed early to come to a talk, so I didn't take it personally.

Today I have 3 Wellness Advisors (I've seen one this morning, the other 2 this afternoon), so that's good, but what's even better is that I actually have a client who has booked to see me in the next day or two. Hooray!

I don't want to tempt fate, but one of the things I'm very pleased about is that in the five days I've been here I haven't had a mosquito bite and my tube of Anthisan is as yet unused. This, I think, is a first for me as usually by the end of the very first day I've got one or two.

It's hard to believe that I've been here almost a week already. It's actually very scary. I don't want to wish my time away, but in some ways it means it won't be so long before I'll be able to be a holiday maker rather than a worker and can wear what I like e.g. shorts/vest tops. Here my clothing has to denote my professional status, so contrary to the way I usually dress when I'm away I actually look quite grown-up and conservative. I think that's another first!

I hope you all have a very jolly Easter.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Can it ever be too hot?

The answer is 'yes'! Today, when I came back from my lunch, it was 30 degrees and that was in my room (where the windows were closed and the shutters down) before I put the aircon on so you can just imagine what it was like outside. I really felt for the poor security people who have to stand in their uniforms all day.

It was so hot that I delayed my planned walk and decided to go to the cool of the gym and go on one of the machines instead. I got my gym gear on and trotted off down there, paying a visit to the loo on my way. As I think I explained, there is a strict no mobile phone policy here, but as a visiting consultant I have to carry one in case a client wants to have a session with me. But we're not allowed to be seen using a mobile.

So imagine my horror when, in the secrecy of the ladies loo, I took out my phone and realised I'd missed a call. I tried to call back, but the person on the desk's English wasn't so good so I ended the call, stuck the dress I was carrying in my bag on top of my gym gear and headed for the reception desk. I had people to see... not clients, but Wellness Advisors, who advise the clients they have what treatments they might like to partake in and so doing my work with them they can know exactly what I do. As I had half an hour to go I then went to the gym.

This was not my best plan as after 20 sweaty minutes and no time for a shower I had to cool down and get my room ready. Some people have to learn the hard way! Still, it was fun to actually be doing some work instead of wandering around like a spare part. And better than that, with the 2nd person, who had a personal problem, she really got what I was doing and came away really relaxed and energised and went off to tell her pals all about how great the session was. The first person not so much so as she didn't have any specific problems and it's always easier to deal with something real. But in my view one out of two ain't bad and is a good start.

Tonight I have to give my presentation to the guests and am keeping everything crossed that I've pitched it right. I'll let you know.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Work? What work?

Today I had 3 hours where I was actually doing something. The first was getting familiar with the computer system and signing in etc, the next with the Health and Wellness Advisors and the last with the Russian liaison person.

And that, folks, was my first day of work.

The sad bit is that I can't go and lie in the sun or loll about in my cozzie, I have to be dressed and ready to go at a moment's notice. Frankly, I can't see my services are going to be needed that much so it's probably going to be a few weeks of doing not much at all and not really being able to relax much either. On the plus side I am allowed to take part in activities if I'm not needed (today I did Ai Chi - a form of Qiqong done in the swimming pool), which at least is something to wile away the hours.

Luckily the food is superb and it has occurred to me that if no-one comes to see me they're going to be out of pocket by quite an amount, but I suppose that's the chance they (and I) take.

I know how you love the poetry challenge so here's the final one for the course I'm on: this week we have to pick anything we might find in Noah's Ark and attempt some anthropomorphism of our own or see if our research turns up any beautiful 'double life' kind of moments. We were given 'Bodies' by Miriam Gamble as an example. You'd think with the lack of actual work I have I'd be able to spend my time coming up with something, but no, I've got my usual struggle!