Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Sawatdee Pimai ! Happy new year 2008....




So it has been just a little over 3 weeks since I first arrived here in Thailand…seems so much longer already...my days have been so full, both with work and play...

In many ways, it feels like I never left- I am in the same bungalow as I was 8 months ago, there are familiar faces around me again, and I have the “lay of the land” down pretty well by now..…






The lifestyle I have here is also ,in many ways, very similar to the lifestyle I have back in Hawaii (though the dollar goes much farther here !)….I am always near the ocean, I work, I exercise, spend time with friends, read, write, go out for meals, spend quiet time in solitude, meditate, think, etc…






So many might ask now, “why do you even leave Hawaii?”….

..because once a gypsy, always a gypsy..and the simple life really suits me.

I also feel there are always more wonderful people to meet and learn from, more deserted beaches to explore, more mountains to climb, more children to make smile and give hugs to, more cultures to get a better understanding of….I never tire of any of this….




For you see, this traveling thing for me is really about pushing that learning curve for me… you might call this a sort of “life school”for me…It pushes me out of my comfort zone where I am often in places where I don’t know a soul ..this is allows me to take a step back at times, and just become the observer, and be quiet for awhile…For I am learning more and more of how important it is sometimes to just sit still and watch, and listen…to not only what is happening around you but also to what is going on inside…

And the most consistent lesson I am always reminded of when I leave “home” is that no matter how beautiful a place is that you are in, you take everything that is inside of you with you…. there is no escape…you have to face everything….if you choose…




and, yes, this is one of the main reasons I give myself this time and space….to have some quality time with all those “inner workings” of my psyche and soul that don’t always get the attention they need when I am home in Hawaii, scurrying about, keeping sometimes much too busy with work and other obligations..




So, on that note, I should also share with you that I don’t always feel the desire to write as much in my blog right now as I have done in the past…Perhaps, because this is now the third time I am back here and it also feels like home here,,,and I don’t always feel like I have “new and exciting” stories to share….and I also don’t want to idealize my situation here, which may have seem more the case in the past…or perhaps this was because everything seemed so new an "fresh" to me...

I am also feeling a lot more introspective these days and am doing a lot of my own personal journaling and processing…this may change in the weeks to come (as I will be traveling to "new territories" soon but for now I think my entries may bit more sparse.

What I am realizing while being here is that I am seeing more and more of the “blemishes” of Thailand …..but this is not necessarily a bad thing..It just makes this place a lot more real to me…and reminds me that no place on the planet is ever “perfect”….




What has troubled me the most here is the amount of construction and development I have seen happening on this island of Ko Lanta and the way prices have gone up right with it…and it seems to happening mostly right around where I am living…so yes, I wake up to the view (and sounds) of the ocean about 25 yards from my room but I also often hear the sound of a hammer, a crane, and the occasional drill in the background…thank goodness for a good set of ear plugs and my Ipod.:)


This is what the rest of the world calls “progress” and I do know that it is inevitable for so much of the world these days…I just pray that the cultures of the world are preserved and we will not just become a world full of shopping malls and drive-thru fast food chains…

But I am getting used to it…I escape a lot every day and take nice long walks, swims and long motorbike rides to quiet and sometimes completely deserted beaches both near and far and I always make time to connect with the local people here- they are really wonderful, especially the children who just don’t seem to know any cultural barriers whatsoever……

It really is a beautiful island I am on so please don’t feel too sorry for me ! Life is still pretty simple and idyllic in many ways here…and yes, I am continuing to meet friends, both old and new…this is always a great thing about returning back to a familiar place.; you begin to build a history with both the local people as well as those “tourists” like myself who return here every year….




Work-wise, it has been a busy 3 weeks for me thus far….I have been teaching 2 intense 4-week Communication online courses for Hawaii Pacific University..the courses started the day I left Hawaii so I really haven’t had a “complete break” yet but again, there is such a luxury in being able to sit here in my bungalow by the sea and get wireless connection and do my work from the very comforts of a seaside home !….I spend at least 2-3hours a day working on my courses- a good discipline to keep right now as I teach 50 very eager students from all over the world…and yes, they (the students) really do love the idea that they have a teacher who is living such a nomadic lifestyle while they are taking the course and I enjoy sharing with them my many cultural insights and experiences into our live class discussions…I will start teaching one more online course in a couple of weeks but it will be stretched out over a whole semester so it should add a little more leisure time into my life here…this is a good thing..:)


I have had a great time celebrating the holidays here….Both Christmas and New Years were spent here on this island of Ko Lanta, my home away from home…..One of the highlights for me (and the children, of course), was being surprised by Santa “appearing” on an elephant on the beach….it certainly reminded me of the magic that still can be associated with this holiday…and yes, to see the look on the childrens’ faces when Santa began to approach them was a most priceless experience…this is when a photograph truly can share a lot more than words……









Because there are so many Swedes where I am living, the celebration on Christmas eve was much more of a festivity than Christmas day, I had dinner with about 40 swedes, enjoying a candlelit dinner by the ocean, feasting on homemade Thai food and good conversation,,,a nice evening to spend…though admittedly, I was having the occasional pang of missing my own family back home…

New Years was even more fun for me…There were about 50 of us, all dressed in white, again sitting around various candlelit tables, enjoying a scrumptious meal of various seafood, vegetables and desserts….all with a local Thai flavor…There was a big fireworks show right on the beach at midnight, the traditional lighting of lanterns, and dancing till dawn ..I finally got to bed when the sun was rising at about 6am ! A nice way to “roll in” the new year, no doubt !










My plans now are to stay here on Ko Lanta till the end of January..I will then fly to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) for a few days and then will fly down to Sydney Australia to see my brother Tony there for a couple of weeks..I am really looking forward to this trip…My brother and I had an amazing trip there about 6 years ago and we have always promised we would both try to get back there together again….so alas, the dream has come true !

After Australia, I hope to stop in Bali for a couple of weeks., this is also another very special place for me and I look forward to getting back there to see how the place has changed, if, at all, and to connect with the amazing spirit of the people and culture…

After Bali, I hope to get up to the island of Ko Phangan where I am planning on doing a yoga course for at least a couple of weeks..after that, we will see…….Vietnam and Cambodia are still possibilities (really want to get to Hanoi and see Angkor Wat) as is just sitting on a quiet beach for the last few weeks of my stay…ah, the options…☺

So I guess that’s about it for now…I truly hope you are well and are having a rewarding new year thus far….Time does seem to move faster as one gets older so I hope you are all appreciating the gifts that come to you on a daily basis..I have also recently decided that this is the secret to happiness….Gratitude. plain and simple.

And for all the “darkness” one might see out there on a daily basis, there always seems to be something wonderfully bright to lift one’s heart as well.

I certainly am grateful for the life that I am living right now….

I hope your days are also full of light…always.



Happy new year.

melina. ☺

1 comment:

Steve Barr, Group Publisher said...

Good to hear from you Melina, as always, you remain in my presence and are a soft breeze and gentle wave upon my soul~~~be well.

Steve