Yesterday I went to a Chinese Acupuncture Clinic named Mungkala. The clinic was only a 10 minute walk from my apartment and right next to a small cafe that my friends and I always love to go to (Kat’s Kitchen). I walked down my street (Loi Kroh Road), which is a long windy strip of over-priced restaurants, bars and massage places with pretty, done up Thai girls (short dresses and lots of make up) standing around. It is more or less a place where old men usually go to eat, drink, and receive attention from pretty Thai girls (some Lady Boys too). It is a little bit disturbing, but prostitution is a reality of Thailand and it is easier than you think to grow numb to.
I arrived at the moat (the giant square that is the center of Chiang Mai city) and crossed. Sometimes a car almost hits me and sometimes my J-walking attempts are quite smooth. Fortunately, I am still alive and well. Traffic, driving and walking on the side of the street (because there are usually no side walks) in Chiang Mai is very over-stimulating and aggressive. Instead of cars and motorbikes following the street in one line, everyone floods in and out like a very adaptive blob of movement.
I walk up to a nice little garden area with succulents lined along a stone path, table and chairs, and rusty swings. It always amazes me to find cute nature sceneries tucked inches from the dirty side walks and musty streets. And as soon as you step off the street and into a backyard it is somehow quiet and peaceful with green things like grass and trees.
I take off my shoes and check in with the secretary. She had quite a cold energy, but perhaps it was her very intense eyebrows. I learned something last week about why Thailand is named the land of smiles. No matter what, if you smile at a Thai they will always smile back. For them, it is inappropriate to show emotion unless it is happiness or flattery or unless you are talking with your close friends. So when a Thai gives me attitude or makes me feel unwelcome (which I often receive for being a foreigner), I now just smile and then they smile and magically become easier for me to deal with.
The acupuncturist’s assistant was very kind and polite. Many Thai’s that I meet are like this – overly polite, saying “ka” after every phrase, smiling, and helpful. You cannot help but be kind in return and say ‘awwwwww she is sooooo cute!!!!!’ to yourself once the interaction is over.
The doctor did not check my tongue or my pulse or ask anything of my previous health history. She spoke with me for a few minutes asking questions about my life, making me feel like she really cared about me and wanted to help. I went to get acupuncture because I have been feeling stressed, lethargic, and because the air has been so bad. She popped a few needles in me and I laid there for a half hour.
The next morning I woke up surprisingly refreshed, more patient and calm. Although, she did not spend as much time on me as my acupuncturist at home, the acupuncture was still very effective. I only paid 500 baht, which is about $15 USD. Although things are cheaper here in Thailand, it is important to remember you get what you pay for. Things are made and done and planned with half the amount of effort compared to America or any other Western country. I am satisfied with my experience, but not impressed. This is one thing I am learning to accept here as well…things are done differently and people act differently here and that is okay.