Travelling Light

Agama Koh Phangan – Day 979-1060 (Jun 1-Aug 20, 2016): ATI, Visa Run, Dengue, ATIT

Jenny’s main focus for the month of June was the Agama Tantra Initiation.

(In this post, we experiment with the subheadings that the built-in style checker in a WordPress plug-in keeps insisting we should use. Even now, it still bleats that there are not enough subheadings. Jenny wants to tell it to naff off. Feedback ever so welcome.)

The Agama Tantra Initiation

Ao SrithanuThe Agama Tantra Initiation is a six-week intensive program for people who have completed two of Agama’s introductory Tantra courses, and at least some basic Agama hatha yoga. The program focuses on personal practice, practical experiential exercises, and intense transformational work. It runs once a year, at the Koh Phangan school.

Assisting on the program is almost as intense as being a participant!

This time around, a little extra drama was added to an already intense program. During a session where one participant was being supported to explore deeply his habitual subconscious patterns, we were interrupted by someone. She had come to tell him that his house was on fire!

Despite losing just about everything in the blaze, and being required to pay the lion’s share of the rebuilding costs (that’s how they roll in Thailand – owners don’t bother with insurance, and tenants are liable for any damage), he completed the ATI program. And had amazing breakthroughs as well.

Home Life

Gecko Koh PhanganWe got comfortable with our gecko flatmates, and one of them got comfortable enough with us to wander around the bathroom when the light was on. We got a great close-up of her skin patterning – brown spots on a pale blue background!

Ravi was working through some discoveries he made during the ABC in Rishikesh. His main challenge was giving up people-pleasing. This required learning how to be genuinely independent without being disconnected, callous and uncaring.

Combining this process with Jenny being very busy and quite stressed resulted in some … interesting conversations!

We now have first-hand understanding of how couples come to have some of those bizarre conversations we have heard them describing in relationship discussion circles.

Xena cat koh phanganTowards the end of the ATI, it all came to a head, with Jenny reaching the end of her ability to cope, and asking Ravi to put her needs first for a while.

He rose to the occasion admirably, despite not being quite sure how to pull it off without falling back on people-pleasing. Somehow, he found a way through to genuine co-operation, without selling out on his independence.

Meanwhile, the kittens kept growing, and never gave up hope of catching one of those geckos on the eaves. One day …

Visa Run to Kuala Lumpur

It took about a month for things to stabilise, during which the ATI finished (phew!) and we took a break during our visa run to Kuala Lumpur. Lots of time for resting, snuggling, and talking put the balance back for both health and our relationship.

Banana Leaf curry house, Pasar SeniWe visited old favourites, like the Banana Leaf Curry House, which also does dosai, roti cannai, and naan bread.

We went to fancy shopping centres, watched movies, and lounged in the air conditioning.

Most days, we had breakfast at Jenny’s favourite Kuala Lumpur cafe, Lucy in the Sky. The chef there knows how to make real scrambled eggs! Jenny gets very tired of what the Thai and Burmese think of as “scrambled eggs”, which is just an omelet that is mixed around on the hotplate. Tough, stringy, and cooked in oil instead of butter.

The scrambled eggs at Lucy in the Sky are fluffy, buttery, and tender. And the cappuccinos are Sydney quality!

Shopping centre, Kuala Lumpur

Every visit to Kuala Lumpur seems to involve one or three visits to Low Yat – the electronics mall near Bukit Bintang.

This time around, Ravi managed to come out of Low Yat Plaza with more money than when he went in. He sold some second-hand items that we no longer needed, including his old tablet.

We celebrated by spending inordinate amounts on coffee and cakes at Jamaica Blue.

Swarovski crystal lorikeetJenny found a Swarovski crystal shop in Pavilion Mall, and we spent some time enjoying the bling.

There is no point in us owning such things, of course. Everything we own needs to go in backpacks and be slung around by ferry staff who don’t give a rodent’s anus.

However, it is very nice to feast our eyes when we have the opportunity!

A friend of ours was in Kuala Lumpur at the same time. Kaari is the new General Manager of the Agama Yoga school. We caught up for dinner at a vegetarian restaurant we like that just happened to be across the road from her hotel.

It was hidden up a flight of stairs, with very little signage, and she had no idea it was there!

Thai Landforms

Don Sak, ThailandOn the way back, we had particularly clear weather at Don Sak, the ferry wharf from the mainland to Koh Phangan (and Koh Tao, and Koh Samui). The shape of the karst landforms of the Thai peninsula was very visible.

It is fascinating for us Australians, because Australia is a very old, sandstone and granite continent. We have nothing like these sharp hills and mountains.

Island off Don SakIslands pop out of the sea with almost vertical cliffs.

This was the aspect which most amazed us when we first came to Thailand, three years ago. All the tiny, steep-sided islands, everywhere.

This Cafe Life

Coming back to Koh Phangan, we were determined to create a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.

La Luna Koh PhanganWe started looking about for different places where we could work. Without air conditioning, home was not often a viable option.

Ravi required air conditioning, and Jenny required at least a minimally ergonomic setup for the laptops. We both wanted a good variety of vegetarian food. Jenny wanted good coffee, and Ravi wanted good iced chocolate. And we both needed fast, reliable WiFi.

We also wanted to create a bit more variety and interest, by trying as many different cafes as possible.

Now that we had a decent motorcycle, strong enough to carry both of us up the steepest Koh Phangan hill, it was viable to go farther afield.

This is La Luna Cafe, in Ban Tai, just outside Thongsala.

Nira's ThongsalaOne of our favourites was Nira’s Home Bakery in Thongsala. Because of our schedules during the ATI, we really only has Sundays available for a lazy cafe brunch.

(Note the great parking job here – this is Thai-style. Don’t worry about the lines marked on the road – just throw it in there any old how …)

Moonlight CinemaWe also visited the Moonlight Cinema, a new establishment in Thongsala. The cinema has very comfortable lounging positions, and you wear wireless headsets so that the sound doesn’t boom out around the neighborhood. The whole place had a beautiful setup, with fairy lights in the trees, and paved pathways wandering through the garden.

It was at this time that Ravi really started prioritising his work. He had started learning Ruby while we were in India, and was intending to also learn Ruby on Rails, which allows for the creation of websites linked to databases. However, the self-transformation process kicked off by the ABC had basically put that project on hold for almost six months.

He took a break from work to do an Agama seven-day meditation retreat, and to make sure he stayed completely undisturbed and silent, he sublet a friend’s house for the week.

And Then, Dengue!

Ravi in First Western HopsitalOn the morning of Day 3, he had such a high fever he had to go to the hospital, where they discovered that he had dengue fever!

The hospital kindly arranged for him to be in a room by himself, so that Jenny could stay in the hospital with him.

When this happened in the past, it saved us money, because it is free accommodation, but this time we had a long-term rental house, so there was no such saving.

Plus, we had cats to feed! The same friends who had cat-sat for us on our visa run stepped up to help out with feeding again.

The Agama TIT

The Agama Tantra Instructor Training began a couple of days later, so Jenny had to take taxi trucks back up to Srithanu each day. At least this meant she could stop in and feed the kittens!

It took a week for Ravi’s red blood cell count to stop dropping and start recovering. It got as low as 69,000, and they were preparing to start blood transfusions if it got to 50,000. Fortunately, it finally turned around.

Ravi actually got quite a bit of work done in the hospital. It had air conditioning, and decent WiFi. The food service was provided by a restaurant across the road, and they even had good iced chocolate! He wasn’t in pain (fortunately, he was spared the bone-breaking pain that sometimes accompanies dengue), and didn’t even feel particularly tired.

The rains, which had begin in May, escalated into the occasional storm.

Agama TIT Flooding in Green HallThe Agama TIT was forced to move to higher ground within the Green Hall during an anatomy class!

The schedule of the Agama TIT was again very demanding, and Jenny’s entire resources (once Ravi was out of hospital) were required to get all the mandatory parts done.

Teaching a yoga class was the most stressful part of the entire program for Jenny. Learning facts and teaching practicum lectures are familiar territory, but teaching yoga! Especially since at least half the participants and many of the assessors had done formal yoga teacher training.

Agama TIT graduationOnce that hurdle was over, the rest of the program was all down hill!

Jenny’s favourite part of the program was the classes with Maha, a medical doctor who is also a therapeutic yoga teacher and practitioner with Agama. She knows Ayurvedic and homeopathic traditional medicine as well as Western medicine.

The final day was the teaching empowerment meditation with Swami, and presentation of certificates at the Final Ceremony.

Jenny was now a fully accredited Agama Tantra Instructor – watch out, world!