Here now and now here or nowhere

The title of this blog comes from a play on words that "now here" is also the same letters as "nowhere" just with a space added in the middle. I am always trying to get better at being in the here and now, and I've always been a bit of a joker so that is why I chose this name.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Black Village - Baan Si Dam

Being in Chiang Mai for a few days before my massage course started I decided to head up to Chiang Rai to see the White Temple and the Black Village. Both are considered sacred places but also are seen as art installations.

Nearly completely opposite from the White Temple is the Black Village. Though both are very beautiful, the Black Village is... well pardon the french... but fucked up. It's gorgeous and inspiring in many ways, but it's also so freaky. Apocalyptic in ways and there is the feel of someone who did way too much acid and saw some out there shit.

The main room houses an art gallery of sorts for mostly Thai artists but also from all around the globe. (or at least around Asia).  Almost like a taxidermist gone wrong, each house has bones or horns or skins/hides of various animals.  One thing I really liked about the Black Village was how tactile it was. You could get your hands on a lot of things and many rooms which looked closed off were actually open to be walked around in or opened up.

For me there was too much to really digest in just one visit and I don't think I even got to see every house/room. But what I did see I enjoyed. It's a must see for anyone in the area.

The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)

Being in Chiang Mai for a few days before my massage course started I decided to head up to Chiang Rai to see the White Temple and the Black Village. Both are considered sacred places but also are seen as art installations. 

The white temple is a modernistic take on a classical thai temple but the insides have references to sci-fi and pop culture. (unfortunately you are not allowed to photograph the insides).  

The day I was there was one of restoration and repainting. In some ways this was a bummer as the work interrupted the flow of the place but it also shows how the work is constantly evolving and growing.  Not just on the outside, but also the inside was being repainted with new designs and icons on the walls.

I'm glad I finally got to see the White Temple (and the golden bathroom) as it was truly a beautiful and spiritual type place, even with the mass hordes of people taking photographs.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Flight Out Of Bhutan

Well, it had to happen at some point.  My 2.5month contract in Bhutan ran out. So after finally getting adjusted and used to being in Bhutan, I was quickly and somewhat shortly whisked away back to SE Asia.  It was a little hard on the heart. I had finally made huge progress getting to know much of the staff and was getting to be on good familiar terms with many people in the country. Alas, that is the travelers life. I am fortunate enough to have gotten to be there at all.

The flight was a bit bumpy.  As the second photo shows, there were many points when you couldn't even see out the window as the clouds were so thick.  But we made it through ok, and arrived in a very different world of Bangkok.  It went from cold and clean air to hot, humid and dirty thick air.  From a small spread out population to a densely packed over populated area.

I will head north to Chiang Mai to do another massage course and will stay in BKK a few days just to get a Myanmar visa and see some friends in the city.  I look forward to the slower vibed, less populated and cleaner city of Chiang Mai.

The last photo is of Tashi, the flight attendant.  He was the first Bhutanese person I met on my flight in and also the last one I left on my flight out.  I saw him a few times in town as he was friends with my friend Kara, and also Bhutan is still small enough where mostly everyone in a town knows everyone else (or sometimes in the surrounding towns as well.)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

PoTD - Punakha's Shabdrung Thankha

While last in Punakha there happened to be a national holiday honoring Shabdrung, the unifier of Bhutan.  Punakha has a huge beautiful old thankha (tapestry) that they unfurl just for the day. It will only be out for a few hours and then rolled back up again.  It is believed that to touch it will clear your sins and gain you merit.  I wish I had known before as it would have given me a chance to do more bad things first before being cleaned. :)

PoTD - Yak Herders camp

On a later night drive from Gangtey back to Thimphu, we passed by some yak herders camped for the night. It was very beautiful to me. There were many yaks all around the area, grazing and sleeping and milling around. A small tent was set up for the herders and a little fire was there for cooking food and keeping warm. I couldn't think of a more simple life.  

A few minutes down the road we ran into two yaks fighting in the street. Horns interlocked and pushing each other they almost smashed into our car. It may not sound like much but the force from two such big animals would have caused serious damage to the car and possibly us. It's always great to see nature being so natural. :)

Gangtey Walk

While in Gangtey I went for a little nature walk. As usual whenever I go for walks by myself in Bhutan, I get lost. This one was no different. I found myself off the trail and walking through big thorn bushes.  The nature in Gangtey is beautiful, less spoiled by the pollution of some of the bigger cities of Bhutan. While there isn't much to do in town (only one bar/snooker hall) the walks around nature and the valley's peaceful atmosphere can do wonders for one's soul. It's probably why most people really love this lodge, even though there are less activities to be done.

Leaving Bhutan... sadly

well... time flies...

Today is my last full day in Bhutan. I was on contract for a little less than 2.5 months and tomorrow I will fly back to Thailand. It seems like I just got here.  I've gotten used to moving places and then leaving for the next spot, but it never really gets easier. You make new friends and then you separate.  The power of the internet makes it so that touch is easier to keep, but it doesn't mean this is the same as a physical touch.  I made some very nice friends here and hope that I will be able to come back at another time. Bhutan is not an easy place to visit, but as long as I keep a good feeling and positive thinking then maybe I will be able to come back.

Today will be filled with last minute packing, shipping, getting all my Bhutan photos up for this blog and some goodbyes.

I remember when I left Laos a few months back. I wasn't sad up until the plane ride out. I cried a bit and said goodbye in my own way. These feelings never hit me on time. It never occurs to me that I will be going and probably not coming back or seeing these faces again. I feel incredibly selfish at times as I am the one leaving and going on to new and exciting places while the others are still in the same place where a hole as been left by me. It's always easier to be the one leaving then the one staying behind.

So of course I am a bit sentimental today. I have every right to be, don't I?

I've meant for some time to write about how hard it is to have guests leave. I do a lot of work with guests where I will travel with them and teach them yoga along their journey. I become a part of their experience and they become a part of my daily life.  When you spend a week straight with someone, learning all about them and also teaching them in a somewhat intimate setting, it can be very tough to see them off. In remote situations, friendship can form very quickly out of necessity. I remember the friends I made in Mongolia and how quick we became close because you just have to. Be friends or be alone, it's human nature to an extent. So when you make these new friends and they leave to go home, well,  it's hard on the soul. At least for me.  And tomorrow, I am the one who will be leaving.  I will be ok. My friends will be ok. It's all apart of life. But as my parents always said to me as a child... "No one said life was easy."  And this is true, but at least we can do our best to make it easier and more fun. And that is one of the mottoes of my life.

Now I'm off to try to mail a huge box of gifts and some clothes home....

Trongsa Dzong

On the way from Bumthang to Gangtey you have to pass through Trongsa. A cute little town that has the highlight of the local fortess.  The Trongsa Dzong is the largest dzong in the country. It was constructed in the 1600's by Shabdrung, a Tibetan Lama who would help unify Bhutan.  It's a gateway between the east and west of Bhutan, so a very central key point for politics of the country.

The last picture is a little past the dzong, and was an old temple on a hill with a monk making a kora (a circling around) of it. I thought it looked very pretty.