The most frequently asked question is, "Why Thailand?"
|Temple in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand, 2013|
Upon further self-inquiry I suppose that the real reason goes back to when I was an infant. Not that I recall the situation, but I've heard the story many times throughout my life. In 1968 my Father, Cornell, was stationed in Duluth, Minnesota. He and his wife, my mother, Georgian, welcomed their first child (this would be me) into the world while in he was in the United States Air Force - during the Vietnam War. A week after my birth, I went back to New Jersey with my mother because my Father was being shipped out to...wait for it...Thailand.
The first year of my life, my Father lived and worked in Thailand, mostly debriefing pilots who had run secret missions into Laos. Stationed in North-East Thailand in Nakhon Phanom, he would ship and bring home gifts and everyday items from this far-away land. I grew up with these items in our home as normal everyday things. Incense burning, a large teak Buddha, furniture with strange characters on it, clothing, formal china with little Buddhas on each handle - all of these surrounded my everyday life growing up and I have to say, it more than stuck with me.
|Dad in Bangkok, c 1968|
My coming to be a yoga teacher came out of the blue. As a middle management employee at a large company, I enjoyed the stability that I had. But, a weak back due to a car accident led me to a yoga class that set up the rest of my journey to becoming a yoga teacher. Or did it?
Was it that first yoga class that led me to be a yoga teacher who burned incense on the alters of Buddhas in her classroom? Or was it the influence of Thailand throughout my life that led me to honoring Buddha by being a yoga teacher? Or, even deeper still, could it be a past life resonation that spoke to me? Well, anyway, here I am.
My Father had always talked about returning to Thailand. Our first trip there in 2009 was on a Friendly Planet tour, "Treasures of Thailand." It was a great tour company and a lovely experience that we all thoroughly enjoyed. Soon after a student of mine, Yuth, revealed that she was born in Thailand and was interested in returning to visit her Father who still lived there. And, did I want to go with her? Of course I did and so happened what we affectionately call, "Team Thailand 2012." Five unlikely folks journeyed to Thailand to visit Yuth's family and vacation for two weeks. My Father did not travel this time, but so he did this year when we went back again and renamed our new group "Team Thailand 2013."
This time, my Father had one request: to visit Nakhon Phanom. And we did. And, it was, not surprisingly, completely different. The dirt roads he remembered were replaced with pavement. The former Air Force Base was now the NKP Airport, receiving a whopping two flights in daily. All the former buildings had been leveled, but the tower remains there - eerily overgrown by the jungle. The Makong River with the towering mountains of Laos across it even looked different to Dad. And I'm sure it felt a whole lot different today, sitting leisurely by its side, than it did in 1968.
The journey home from Thailand can be put in one word: painful. It is long. It is uncomfortable. And, did I mention it is long? Door to door we're talking 30+ hours in traveling with a 12 hour time difference. It takes me just about two weeks to recover to the time zone, but even longer to mentally and emotionally come back. I recently joked that in Thailand you have one big question to answer each day: get a massage or go shopping. On a good day (most days for me), I get to do both. The Thai people are so nice and generous - honestly caring that you enjoy yourself and be happy in their homeland. The food is exceptional and healthy. The temperature is always warm and usually sunny - even in the rainy season. The clothes are comfortable and fun to wear. The beautiful Temples peak up from every corner of towns, reminding everyone that life is only complete when it is filled with Spirituality, and that giving of yourself to an idea that is much bigger than you is all that you really need.
So, if you are still asking, "Why Thailand?" I will have to refer to my knee-jerk response, "Why not?" But if you no longer are asking that question, then you get it. You get how sometimes a foreign land can feel like home, maybe even more than home does.
So, who wants to be in "Team Thailand 2014?"