Monday, April 12, 2010

Bangkok 2010

[Due to various Internet problems, I am posting this from Berlin, after arriving here from 3 months in Thailand. I did not change the present tense of the words, though.]

I landed in Bangkok just before the new year. It is my first time in Asia, and I was immediately made aware : this is another 'planet' all together.
Sticky heat,(and rice) noise, air pollution, smog and Buddhas everywhere.
People have a strong faith in this place, and every morning you will see shop owners and simple people putting some food and lightening incsence for the Gods.

Paleo eating? no problem. Don't let the people who tell you one cannot avoid soy and rice in Asia. Make your smart choices and stop bitching and moaning.
Here, I even got to experiment with a popular, portable, quick paleo snacks:

Also, you can choose from other delicacies, such as...

A pig's face:

Fried Kermit's:

Weird fruits: (not bad tasting at all...)

The legs of Miss Piggy:

And of course:

Bangkok is a weird urban-old-new kind of metropolitan. On one side traditional markets without even running water and on the other side huge sky scrapers with electronic key-cards.

I am here to work on another production with Total Brutal company, a piece that is based
on 'The Big Brother' concept. (Originally by Jorge Orwell's '1984')

We arrived at the apartment building owned by the Patravadi Theatre, and I received a one room apartment that I am to spend the next 2 and a half months in.
After a quick audition-workshop for the local artists, we are starting to work on the piece as a small group of 6.
It is Elik - an Israeli dancer working in Berlin, Joom - an experienced Thai actor, On - a Thai
singer/musician/actor, Leng - an acrobat and Tina - a local ladyboy who's profession is... graphic designer.

The process is not simple, chaotic and challenging. Difficulties in communication with the Thais are arising everyday and we learn the simple fact that 'Yes' in Thailand means... well, many things.
Slowly, through the tiring weeks of work we accumulate 'moments' and then some more 'moments' into a colorful puzzle. Nir the director/choreographer 'cuts through the meat', chops and hacks and tries to form a flow through the piece.

Part of the work for me, was some physical exploration with a wooden cube we had lying around on stage. It was the first time I got a chance to play around with such a thing, and the process allowed only quick creation phase, but here is some movement with the cube I created:

The production turned out to be a big success. All the major newspapers, TV channels along with national and international interest. While discussing how from such a difficult process came out something so interesting, Nir, the choreographer responsible for the piece said maybe its BECAUSE of the difficult process, lack of communication with the locals and other struggles and not IN SPITE OF. Food for thought, I guess.

All along the process, I was still making sure to train daily. It turned out to be a very big challenge. We are working for 8 hours a day in the theatre, in great heat and humidity and without AC, and I have to put in at least 2-3 more hours of my own training just to keep myself sharp, strong, flexible and mobile.
I decide to put a lot of effort into my energy management - using certain supplements, getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night, and using pranayama, meditation and yoga techniques throughout the day to keep myself focused and sharp.
I am glad to say I have been successful in this quest for energy. Even though that it was common to log 8-11 hours a day of physical activity, I was able to maintain a 6 days on to 1 day off schedule and remain... productive. Even more than that, my hand balancing skills, flow work, strength and flexibility have all improved during the last 2 and a half months.

All in all here are a couple of simple facts (?...) that I have learned in Thailand:
1. Dogs can do the splits. All Thai dogs do the splits.

2. Spicy? You don't know spicy until you come here. When they say in a restaurant: 'not spicy' it means 'less spicy'. There is no such thing as not spicy in Thailand.
3. 'Yes' can mean a lot of things. It often means 'No', 'I don't understand', 'I fucking don't speak english', 'leave me alone', etc...
4. For a people with a lot of tonality in their language, the Thais have very little ability to vocalize a question mark in the end of a sentence. This is the mother of all misunderstandings between 'Farang' (foreigners) and locals.
5. A rat can be bigger than a cat. Much bigger. It can also scare the shit out of cats. Forget that Tom & Jerry bull-shit..
6. We have a lot of Thai workers in Israel, and they are known as the best working force ever. Those are apparently farmers from the rural areas... Nothing to do with the local Bangkok city boys...
7. Dancers/actors are bitches. Working with them is like trying to eat a ripe mango while staying clean.. The fucking thing just falls apart in your hands and then you need to clean up the mess. (Generalizing, of course...)
8. More Chelated Magnesium = better living. And no, YOU haven't reached the point of diminishing returns. (probably..)
9. One thing I will take with me to a deserted island? Coconut. Wait... Its already there... This thing is the mother product of many, many different things. You have coconut, you have life. And I'm not just talking about MCT's.
10. I would never have imagined lizards will keep me up at night. That was until I met the Thai 'Screaming Lizard'.
11. I love red meat. Red. Meat. Steak. Beef. Grass-Fed. Mmmm... Difficult to come across in this part of the world.
12. Depressed girl shooting a ping pong ball out of her pussy? No, dear Thais, that is not a turn on. At least not in my book... (The 250 pounds red nosed drunk German tourists seems to like it, though)
13. For a traditional place, the Thais are quite accepting and liberal. Wait, they are Buddhists...
14. For a 12 million Asian city Bangkok is a very safe place. Wait, they are Buddhists...
15. An Afro-American as the president of the US? The falling of the Berlin wall? Albert Einstein's theory of relativity? They never heard of it here. Wait, they are Buddhists...
16. Britney Spears (how do you spell that?) - sure, everybody knows Britney.
17. The next time someone tells me that 'rice is good for you, look at asians', I'll kick him in the face. Come to Asia, dear friends, witness the reality. (Not that rice is the worst thing to put in your mouth, for example, never, ever put a ping pong ball you found on the street in Bangkok in your mouth...)

That's it for now, friends...
I am off to a three week adventure in a private island. I plan to do a lot of training, (surprisingly..) mind-body exploration and... fun.
I will start to post a daily training and diet log of my time on the Island. I have received allot of requests for more details about the way I workout, eat, stretch, meditate and live, and so, I hope you will find this insightful.

See you soon,