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From Deb: Saturday, January 10, 2004 11:50 PM

Hello all. Just to let you know that I have arrived
safe and sound in Thailand. Really quite an
overwhelming several days of travel, but I am here
unscathed! Slept a long time last night, and awoke to
lot's of strong tea, a very challenging phone call to
the hubby (successfully), and off to visit some
Buddhist temples. IMG_0342.JPG (649601 bytes)I am staying at a very sweet guest
house, with a lovely swimming pool and little
meditation spots scattered throughout the gardens and

Hope all are well...I'll write more when I have some
adventures to share!

Love, Debbie


  From Deb: Thursday, January 15, 2004 9:19 PM 

Hello Amigos. 

This is a trip...really!! What an amazing place. 
The first several days were quite overwhelming to say
the bag at the airport, no hotel guy
waiting for me...all that type of crap, however the
Thai people are so amazing. I had 2 different Thai
women actually give me a baht, dial phone numbers for
me on these crazy phones, and help me find my luggage
and get to the hotel! True generosity and kindness

My hotel is really amazing. for $14 a night, I have a
pool, my own western flush toilet, (kinda a big deal
here because they typically use foot pad
toilets...where you squat over a hole in the floor and
flush with a bucket of water...ahhh)...a TV set with
HBO, and a phone. This has been a lifesaver because
frank can call. Compared to my young hippie traveler
pals, I am spending an insane amount, however my
belief is that I'm older, more crotchety, less willing
to sleep with bedbugs at this age, and I like my
comforts whilst on my solo journey! I'm done doing
the hardcore travel thing, and it is a relief to come
home to my little abode after the end of a wacky day! 
I still can't figure out the damn payphones, or my
phone card but I figure it is only week one.

I have met some amazing people while here from around
the world. Took a Thai cooking class and laughed
a lot. The Thai women instructors are a riot...really
strong minded women. We made about 6 different dishes
and ate like fools at the end. 

I went hiking in a beautiful national park outside of
Chiang Mai. We swam under waterfalls, got lost in the
jungle and breathed some fresh air. It was wonderful.

There have been some very inspiring conversations with
Buddhist monks who are interested in learning English. 
The concepts of Buddhism are so simple, but so
important and inspiring. I am working on acceptance
and awareness...lot's to learn. The Buddhist temples
here are phenomenal. Really fabulous. Iíll try to
send photos soon. I have never encountered so many
gracious, humble and kind individuals. I feel very
safe here on my own.

I meet my friend Ariel in a few days here and we're
off to Pai (a mountain village north) for elephant
riding, trekking, and who knows!!

I'd love to hear about you all! Send mail about life
at home. Hope all's well. You are all in my


  From Deb: Monday, January 26, 2004 9:10 PM

Hello all. Greetings from Pai. Can't remember if
I've written about this place yet...days seems to flow
together here. My girlfriend Ariel was here for a
week, and we experienced some amazing things
together...probably several encounters I wouldn't have
braved on my own. I think I've already mentioned the
driving along the countryside via motorbike...I felt
like such a Harley Davidson girl cruising along with
the wind in my hair...actually, we only got up to
about 30 mph tops! The best part was figuring out the
gearshifts. I felt like such a road warrior! We
soaked in hot springs in the mountains and meandered
through the bamboo forests in search of a legendary
waterfall. After several hours, we discovered our
attempts were futile as the waterfall was a full day
hike...we waded in the river, and chocked the
experience up to fa rang (Westerner) ignorance...well
the little Thai farmers kept pointing us in that
direction, so we just kept trucking along!!

I experienced my first few Thai massages...oh, what a
treat. I was contorted, walked on, pried with, and
cracked up the was both a painstaking and
beautiful thing once I surrendered to it. I felt like
a relaxed noodle afterwards. I laughed my ass off...
as the last few minutes of massage were nearly
complete, in the background I hear Lionel Ritchie's
" it you I'm looking for" in a really bad
Thai accent. Ah...the 70's cover tunes oh plenty
here! The Thai massages are much more rough than
Western massage...I asked for "gentle" and I think my
practitioner thought I was a wussy, because she
giggled with her Thai friends.

A few days ago Ariel and I went on a guided trek
through the countryside. It was just she, I and our
guide, Mr. O...he knew about 5 English phrases, but
turned out to be an amazing guide. He could identify
the local flora and fauna, picked out tropical fruit 
on our path for us to try, and made us little bamboo
hats to wear for sun protection. There were some
moments in the trek that were serious bush wakin...I
mean some thoughts going through my head like, "where
the fuck is this guy taking us to...but oh, Mr. O came
through as we happened upon lovely fields growing
acres and acres or garlic, onion, and cilantro...other
stuff that smelled wonderful but he couldn't
translate. We looked like little Robin Hoods with our
caps. We had a good laugh at our own expense. 

In the afternoon Mr. O took us on a jaunt to a local
Lisu village. There are only 20,000 Lisu indigenous
people left on the planet. They live in China, Burma,
India, and Thailand. That day happened to be Chinese
New Year, and the Lisu were having a major celebration
in their village. Ariel and I were brought into the
community like queens. We were offered beer with ice
cubes and quickly drawn into the circle of elder women
dancers. We must have danced with them for over an
hour...a simple kind of hora like foot
over the some type of string instrument and
a pan pipe. The women were clad in traditional bright
red and pink costumes, and the men had regular Western
clothes and "Hawaii 5 O" type sunglasses on. It was
all so surreal and amazing. We were dancing around
the ceremonial offerings, which included bottles of
soda and booze, photos of the Thai King and Queen,
flowers, and other candles and knick-knacks. It was
so special to be the only white people participating
in this very ancient tradition. I felt lucky,
thankful to Mr. O, and blessed to have been a part of
such a heartfelt welcoming. Needless to say that Mr.
O downed a few too many glasses of Thai whiskey. Our
rides back to the village were precarious at best, but
ahh...Mr. O came through with a real cultural

And did I mention the elephant riding? Well, the next
day Ariel and I braved our way to an elephant camp
outside of town. We rode these gentle, majestic
beasts for hours through the bamboo forest. They are
slow, methodical, and it felt like I was the Queen
Sheba riding on her neck with my legs dangling between
her immense flapping ears. Her skin was furry and
leathery. When she sneezed she let our a bellowing
call from her trunk, and sprayed me with some type of
elephant snot...oh, well...just a part of it. When
she roared out, I really knew that I was on a
phenomenal creature. Probably the most spectacular
part was riding through the river with the elephants.
The elephant trainers got the elephants to crouch down
to get us wet in the water. We all tried our best to
stay on the animals by hanging onto her ears...I
prided myself on doing what felt like a "bucking
bronco" act and managed to stay on her back during the
whole escapade. I have photos that document the whole
experience. They are a riot. Later we ended the day
with a soak in some sulfur fed baths on the elephant
farm. All in all a fabulous day!!!

Now that Ariel is gone, I'm contemplating attending an
intensive 4-day meditation retreat concentrating on
the basic tenets of mindfulness. The days are
rigorous... probably mentally as well as physically
challenging, but I think I may need to pursue this
quest, as a part of this journey is really about
learning to quiet my mind. I'll keep you posted!

I'm on my own after mi amiga has departed. Today I
may hit the local swimming pool...could be kinda dodgy
but it is warm and I feel like a lounge. Keep the
notes from home a cominí as they help me through the
lonely moments...I miss mi hubby somethiní fierce and
count the days until he arrives...but there is
something really rewarding about doing this journey
solo. Even through the crappy days, there is a lesson
there for me to contemplate.

Much love and blessings! Deb
  From Deb: Friday, February 13, 2004 1:50 AM

Greetings one and all.  I am back in Chiang Mai after
several weeks up North in the Mae Hong Song region of
Thailand.  These last few weeks were a serious mental
exercise...some days good, some quite lonely, and
others really amazing.  I made a conscious decision to
stay put in the town of Pai.  This place is truly
chill...just enough fa rang (white folks) to feel
comfy on my own, but still a true Thai village with a
large percentage of Indigenous Tribal presence. 

I decide to take part in a 4 night meditation
workshop...I'm feeling really up to this experience
and open to whatever the retreat brings me.  I meet
the "Master" the day before I traipse off into the
hinterlands...he strikes me as a bit of a Thai
Nazi...not really the soft, cuddly, Buddha type I had
hoped to teach me all about mindfulness and quieting
the mind.  I decide to follow my heart and just wing
it by singing up.  I am one of 3 participants with the
"Master," or (I believe he enjoys priding himself by
his other given name) "Tiger."  There were a few times
when I had questions and I just couldn't bring myself
to say "excuse me Mr. Tiger," or rather "hey Tiger
what was that thing you said about letting go?" 

Anywho, needless to say that El Senior Tiger was a
hack.  His English was so bad that it took me 2 days
to realize when he was talking about "the monkey or
mono" he was referring to the mind.  We practiced this
pseudo yoga stretching thing called "body twist" which
resembled more of Thai yoga.  Before each stance he
would sternly say, "stand by!!!!"  and then proceed
with "go" when he wanted some movement from us.  One
woman was so disgusted with his lack of
instruction...really no give and take
conversations...that she left after one day.  She
asked for a partial discount and the Yogi (ha ha)
stated (from a lotus position) "go get yourself a
lawyer."  Needless to say I wasn't very excited to
spend my last 2 days alone with this guy...

But, I do...with the intention of learning something
from this experience.  And I actually came away with
some good tools about practicing meditation...and some
good lessons about expectations. I made friends with
myself and the solitary ALONE TIME I had...I mean
alone...sola...just me, a gecko, a mangy cat and the

The best part of each day was that I would receive a
traditional Thai massage and then get to take an
herbal shower with lemon grass, ginger, kafir lime,
rosemary, and other yummy herbs.  The mixture is put
into a huge Terra cotta pot and filled with hot water.
 The goal is to take the water and pour it over
yourself with a bucket.  I decide to fill the pot with
more water and step on inside of it like a
bath...since I just about fit in it!  The staff
thought that was really silly.

In spite of the guru's lack of personal integrity, I
came away from this experience with some good insight
about myself, a new found appreciation for a solitary
existence, and a beautiful lesson about staying open,
rather than being attached to any one particular
outcome....oh, and a huge food after
12:00 except fruit.  While I was trying to glean some
type of revelation from "Master," I unexpectedly and
surprisingly learned what I needed to from Me!

My experiences after the retreat were magic.  I met a
community of travelers staying outside of town and was
warmly invited into their little family.  We
motorbiked up to a small village north of Pai called
Soppong, where we spent days frolicking in the river,
and exploring ancient caves filled with stalactites
and stalagmites.  At dusk at the entrance to the cave
we watched as hundreds of thousands of swifts swarmed
into the cave to lodge for the night.  The ski looked
like it was filled with locusts.  It was a lovely

I'm picking my wonderful hubby up from the airport in
Bangkok in a few days.  Can't wait to see his smiling

Hope you all are healthy and well.

Much love, Debbie


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