Yoga Thailand, MaeNam, Ko Samui

Trip Start Sep 24, 2006
Trip End Sep 01, 2007

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

I arrived in Ko Samui via Air Bangkok (plane full of 'farangs', foreigners) on Friday Jan. 12 at about 6 p.m. Ken, the all around everything atYoga Thailand, picked me up at the old, wooden outdoor airport inland near Bang Rak Bay.  Yoga Thailand is a beautiful place, bungalows nestled in trees, with the ocean and beach just steps away. All vegetarian food (wonderful food), no alcohol, drugs etc.  it's not that quiet though!  as there are several resident dogs, who have their own schedule, not to mention the birds that start chirping as soon as the sun is up, speaking of which we're on the equator so there is 12 hours each of night and daylight; then there are the children of the owners and staff who run around, and the ferries.  Thank heavens for my souper douper custom made ear plugs!  I don't hear a thing and then the fan is also handy to block out noise.  I have my own little cabin with fan, and bathroom and deck, not overlooking the water, and next to the owners and kitchen etc, but it is fine.  Schedule is 7:30 a.m. Meditation, 7:30-9:30 Yoga; breakfast 9:30-10:30; lunch 1-2; practice 3-5:30; ( swim at 2 usally);dinner 6:30-7:30, quiet time 9 p.m.  I am not hungry for lunch, though it is included of course, so i just eat Breakfast and dinner (then I am starved). The staff are great, owners are Irish/Thai couple and instructors are Irish, hence the tie to the Irish Folk singers which is a misnomer really.   Three are Irish, (Anita, Jack and Brian, one English (Bobby), one Canadian (Michelle from Calgary), one French (Gwen from Brittany), one American (Rob).  They are all self employed and are hired by Jack Harrison as need be. He is an amazing singer, guitar player, writer, and i hear also teaches folklore at University and is a Yoga instuctor himself!
Jack Harrison Group
Jack Harrison Group
Jack is one of the most original singer - songwriters to come to the irish scene. This rich resonant music integrates a contemporary but timeless Irish voice with inflections of ragtime, blue and Jazz (Irish music magazine).
Here is a clip from a website. Anyway I kind of misread the retreat information on two counts: I arrived a day early for my retreat (Jan. 13-20 so I thought I had to arrive Jan. 12 for the 13th) but that was ok; and I thought Jack Harrison was an Irish folk singer, and he is, but this retreat was focussing on 'Kirten' music, which is Indian, chanting in Sanskrit, choral group repeats what lead singer.  Jack has written his own unique melodies to these ancient chants and the words for one are:
Vande Gurunam (title)
Vande gurunam charanara vinde
Sandarsita svatma sukhava bodhe
Nih sreyase jangalikayamne
Samsara halahala mohasantya
which means
I pray at the lotus feet of the supreme guru who teaches
the good knowledge, showing the way to knowing
the self-awakening great happiness; who is the doctor
of the jungle, able to remove the poison of the ignorance
of conditioned existence.
This chant begins with an Irish melody called Ar Eireann Ni Nosfainn Ce Hi.!!
Anyway there are only a handful of the yoga participants who came because they were interested in the music and ironically 2 are Canadian (but live or work in Korea); the others came for just the yoga.  So I have been 'practising' with these singers and for 2 afternoons now we have been recording for an album and tonight and tomorrow there are concerts in the yoga shayla (which is where we were recording, with the windows, doors closed because of sound, and it can be hot, but windows all around and we are overlooking the ocean).  The concerts will be recorded 'live' for the CD as well.  So it has been quite an experience, hav having to sing and sing (all women, about 7 of us - 2 are professionals who came with Jack and one is a professional singer in Korea (a Canadian) so it is very good music0. me of couse, I just mouth the words, haha - no seriously, my goal is to 'blend in.'.  He wanted anyone from the class to participate.  There is another professional singer, from Austria, who came for the yoga and doesn't want to interfere with what Jack has got going but she is a beautiful singer, can sing jazz, blues and I heard her sing one night in her cabin and I thought it was a CD.
Anyway it is hot hot, 30 above at noon, and it is considered their winter. Still lots of scooters, traffic, crazy driving, especially the 'farangs' who rent motorbike, and drive without helmets, trying to keep up with the locals. There are tons of accidents apparently, and all caused by farangs. I stick to taking the Sawngthaews, which are pick up trucks with brightly coloured and designed canopies on the back. You flag one down going in your direction and hop in the back, pay the driver when you get to your destination. They also have motorcycle taxis which stop and ask me if I want a ride when I am standing waiting for the the 'songthaw' and I say 'no thanks'.  THere are no helmets for passengers, all drivers are to wear them, that's the law but it is not enforced. Taxi drivers must wear them.
Tomorrow night Doris, Marianne (singer from Austria and her friend from Vienna who is taking Shiatsu and gave me a treatment last night) and I and maybe lots more are going to Chaweng to take in a 'ladyboy' cabaret or show or whatever. It is a Vegas style show performed by men in drag but they take this very seriously. Ladyboys are accepted like the third sex in Thailand.  You read it hear first... maybe.
I am leaving Yoga Thailand on Sat. and have a place booked (Sandy Resort) in the next community at Bo Phut a lovely little place. I am just spending one night there and on Sunday, Anita, a young Irish singer from the band Ireland, and I are taking a 1.5 hour ferry to Ko Tao (Turtle Island), where I want to snorkel and she plans to take a 9 day course in Chi Chong.  I may go over to Pattaya after a few days and she and I may rendezvous in CHiang Mai. 
that's all for now!

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