Last week for eight days we had the huge pleasure of engaging with a group of eleven who had travelled here to Chiang Mai for our first immersethrough experience. (For more on the idea and on the general outlines of it all, please go to immersethrough.com and the Chiang Mai page.) Now they've all gone and we have had a few days to breathe... And we've also started taking stock.
I was just so delighted as the week was happening to realise how much everyone was enjoying the process, and gaining confidence and learning. And as the week went on, we could feel the participants gaining confidence and knowledge, not just about food, but about all sorts of aspects of Thai culture. The mirror to that was the confidence that Ying and Jam and Fern's mother, whom we all called Koon Mae, found as they worked with the group, showing them everything from how to hold a knife, to how to manage a charcoal stove (we cooked on traditional charcoal stoves, nothing else), to how to pound a spice paste most effectively in a mortar.
I'm hoping to post again before I leave for Burma on Saturday. I just didn't want any more days to go by without saying thank-you to everyone who came, and to let you all know what a pleasure we found you and how grateful we are for your curiosity and enthusiasm.
Moving forward: Now, as of full-moon day, two days ago, I am re-engaging with the camera (it was so strange to leave it at home these last two weeks as we've been prepping and then immersing). I am reminded of how much I still have to learn just to be more comfortable with the digital technology. This morning I tried for the first time to download images into handy gadget I bought before leaving Toronto called "Photo Safe ll", and discovered that somehow the pins are already crooked or maybe I am just not competent (always a reasonable explanation!) so that I am unable to insert the camera's compact flash card into the slot on the Safe. There goes that good storage idea!.
I am not taking my computer to Burma, so I guess, unless I solve this storage problem, I'll just take flash cards, enough for the trip, treating them like rolls of film, essentially.
Whew! It's all a little intimidating.
But in fact I just want to hang around in Burma, get to Sittwe on the west coast and the nearby ruins in Mrauk U, and then I also hope to get north to Myitkyina. Yes, there will be shots, but I am not feeling like it's a now-or-never situation. I'm hoping to poke around in markets and to just decompress a little, absorbing what I see and feel and not trying to rush things. I'm hoping to have many chances to travel in Burma, using Chiang Mai as my base, over the next few years, so this is just a start. Haven't been since Jeff and I and the kids went in January of 1998... Yikes! Eleven years already!
And as time feels flown-by, so to speak, it also sometimes slows in a wonderful way. For me that happened yesterday and the day before, on two moving and extraordinary visits to a temple just outside Chiang Mai, where there lives a monk who dispenses wisdom. Ganesh, the amiable Hindu elephant-shaped god, seems to play a huge role at the temple. He's a good reminder, with his physical ease, so apparent in the statues there showing him lounging and reading a book, or just taking it slowly, that life is for living appreciatively, not a train station to hurry through.