I love a festival and I love food, put these things together and I am pretty happy; now add in unexpectedly stumbling across this combined joy, and in Asia to boot, and I am one excited lady!
So here I am full of joy, talking to a fellow travelling friend (minimidlifecrisis.com – we’re not the only quit our jobs bloggers out there), whilst Lucy is trying to work out whether that thing that looks like a Portuguese tart, is in fact a Portuguese tart. She’s pretty sure the hawker said it’s made from cheese, but with the loud music and the accent it’s hard to be sure. It’s also good to point out here, the first rule we learnt travelling in Asia: Never Assume. If it looks like a Portuguese tart in Asia, then it’s highly likely it is not a Portuguese tart in Asia……
We’re laughing about having missed the cultural entertainment, as we were too busy eating. Now that we are stood watching the stage… it’s children’s balloon making. Then, out of nowhere a sudden force pushes me forward, and there is big time pain, between my neck and shoulder blade. I’m also wet; dripping, soaking wet.
First thought for all of us, is ‘someone’s thrown a pint’, but this is not England (and why is that normal behaviour anyway?) We’re also pretty sure the wet is just water. There’s a piece of popped balloon on the floor, with a puddle, so maybe it’s some weird part of the kid’s show….
All three of us look around to work out what’s gone on. It seems everyone around is looking at us, with the same, quizzical, slightly annoyed looks that are probably on our faces. With a bit of hindsight I can see, that they all thought they had been splashed by us, which in effect they had, but no one was as wet as me!
It seems I’ve been hit by a mysterious, and confusingly painful, white water balloon, and no one in the crowd was expecting it!
I finish my tea flavoured ice cream, (the sugar eased the shock!), and we decide it’s time to go home. It’s a festival, it’s busy, there’s traffic, and now there is torrential rain. For the first time in Asia I am cold, a flashing-lighted police car slows, to wave at us, as we wait on the roadside for our Uber.
We arrive at our hostel, the rain continues so there’s lots of people inside, I don’t really want to talk to anyone, but I also know I need ice on my back sooner rather than later. Whilst Lucy fetches the ice, I find a chair. I hope that the 19 year old aspiring professional footballer from Senegal; who is volunteering at the hostel for 6 months, who has already helped us……. bake bread, provided me with paper, when he’s seen me get out my colouring pencils and has invited me to drink the owner’s expensive alcohol, doesn’t see me.
Lucy comes back with the ice and applies it, the lad sees me, checks I’m ok, and to my relief continues with what he’s doing. The pain is not good, I’m worried I may not be able to move my neck the next day, I express this to Lucy and ask her to consult Dr Google. Lucy jumps to task and is proud to have discovered an article about the physics of the velocity and weight needed for a water balloon to kill someone, I am quick to make it clear, this is not helpful.
Although later, this did help us work out, the water balloon must of come at speed, therefore was dropped from a height or launched from a catapult, or both, explaining both the damage, and the not being seen.
I brush my teeth and walk back from the shared bathroom (the one toilet and sink for the entire hostel), and see the lad talking to Lucy outside our room. I’m glad to see the tiger balm (Asia’s cure-all) in his hand, and walk over excitedly. I am not, however, expecting him to offer to massage me! Whilst trying to work out if a massage will even be good for me, I suggest I sit on a chair in the communal area, rather than lying down on my bed. He unzips the top of my dress, whilst apologising, and starts to work on my neck. It takes me a minute, but I let go, I remember to trust. My head still wants logic, but it does exist; the lad’s a footballer, he knows about impact injuries. A water balloon is not a football, but it seems the result is the same. I ease, and the lad takes charge; the blood will cause me problems and I need to lie down for him to fix it. So I do lie down on my bed… With Lucy in the room. I’ve had enough massages to know, he did know what he was doing. He even got me doing exercises to check range of movement, like you see footballers do on the TV.
Lucy makes bread in our Penang Hostel
the bed/massage room…..
As I went off to sleep I was reminded of having sprained my thumb at Fairyland, a raw vegan retreat (more on that I promise!) in March in Kuranda, Australia. I’d decided to do some early morning yoga but, heard and felt a crunch, moving into downward dog, mid sun salutation….. I spent the morning in pain, doing everything one-handed. Eventually, I braved up and asked a fellow work exchanger, who I’d been told was a healer, if he thought he could help. I didn’t really know what a healer was, and I wasn’t sure I wanted one touching me. But this guy (who just happened to be an ex-monk) was humble, approachable, and clearly and calmly talked me through what he was doing, and why and how he believed his approach worked. This ex-monk practices quantum touch, a mixture of using his energy to guide my own healing energy and some more hands on touch. As with my 19 year old footballer, it took me a minute, but when I let go, I could feel the tension in my hand easing. I could also see the ex-monk was happy to have a chance to practice his skills, and I began to understand how gratefully receiving without reserve, can be a gift in its self.
Our host in Kuranda, an old hippy, who once travelled on the magic bus, shared the idea, healing comes from whatever we believe in, which feels relevant here. I’m sure learning, that healing and getting my needs met, comes when I let go, trust and receive.
I woke up the morning after my spontaneous footballer massage, relieved I could move my neck, and understood the water balloon that came out of nowhere with force, had come to remind me to trust, let go, appreciate the skills of those around me and be grateful for those gifts being shared with me.