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Tuesday 13 May 2003
Chiang Mai, Thailand

Mr Joe

A fairly relaxed day today... didnt get a motorbike cuz I had to check out of my guesthouse (my room was already pre-booked) and find another one, which I did by around 11am. This took a lot of time out of my planned schedule if I wanted to take a motorbike around Chiang Mai so Ill take the bike tommorrow.

Most of today involved me walking around, getting lost and walking into the odd temple... ok ok Im becoming SLIGHTLY over-familiar with Buddist temples now (yeah I know, took THREE months! Most people get bored in a week!) and they dont hold quite as much interest for me now as they used. Still one temple was a safe refuge from the sudden rain downpour that engulfed Chiang Mai around 3pm for half an hour!

I happened upon a sign that interested me today, down a side-street: "Tibetan Kung-Fu". Sounded unusual so I thought Id check it out! Alas, once I walked into the entrance-way, I was not greeted with 5 muscular Jackie-Chan wannabies dueling it out but rather an empty garden (with a few Kung Fu weapons leaning against the side). Master Joe (for that is the name of the man who is in charge) came out as soon as he saw me, in full medical garb: it turned out that Id walked into a Chinese-therapy clinic-cum Martial Arts centre...

I decided Id let Master Joe have a look at my shoulder and what followed was the most unusual massage treatment Ive had so far! Master Joe explained to me that his family have been treating patients (and training students in Kung Fu) for over 600 years! Every generation has passed on the secret healing technique to the next! WOW, now thats SOME family heritage!

The entire procedure was very spiritual and symbolic. I first had to put the amount owed onto a tray (about 7 dollars) and then M J lifted the tray above his head, chanting some words, including my name, for 10 seconds. I think this was a blessing on the procedure to follow...

Then I was sat down with my legs stretched straight in front of me and, after a 5 second meditation, M J began to massage my arms and legs (since my knee was kind of at me too from all the walking) in a similar style to the Kung Fu massage Id had in Vientiane. At some points in the treatment, MJ felt around my stomach and he could "feel" what alergies I have. I said I didnt have any, but he proceeded to explain that he meant I had excess gas in my system from eating certain types of food. I think Gary or whoever has heard me burping can confirm that gas can sometimes be a problem in my case .... I could even feel the gas being moved around in my system as he pressed on certain parts of my stomach... weird feeling.

MJ reckoned that part of my shoulder problem may be associated with gas build-up "pushing" my nerves "out of place".. at this stage Im willing to believe anything since Ive had a different diagnosis from EVERY doctor Ive been to about this.

After a great session, MJ suggested I take some Chinese herbal remedies to loosen my muscles and relieve the gas-build up. Only 5 dollars for a weeks amount so what the hell, I may as well try it. If it works itll be a bonus!

Im also going to visit him 2 more times this week, on his recommendation, to see if we can get some improvement with the shoulder...

As a final part of the "ceremony", I poured water over the masters hands as he rinsed them. I felt like Daniel-san in Karate kid serving his master. Very cool.

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