Tuesday, 8 April 2014

New experiences: Patron of the arts

Image credit: Sue Beatrice
I came across a few of artist Sue Beatrice's pocket watch sculptures online via an article online with some photos, and found them really beautiful. Susan specialises in creating Earth-friendly pieces of art exclusively made with natural or recycled elements.

As I understand it, most of her work using natural elements tends be ephemeral, such as with these sand or pumpkin sculptures:
Sand Sculpt USA - NY Aquarium sand sculpture on Coney Island 

And then there are the recycled pieces, this is from her Facebook Page, All Natural Arts:
"All Natural Arts is a celebration of nature in the form of jewelry and other fun and whimsical items. Using sea glass, stones and other natural elements as well as vintage watches, jewelry pieces, and found objects to create one of a kind treasures for you to enjoy or to give as gifts."

This kind of intricate miniature sculpture also happens to be one of my favourite forms of arts, I find them really fascinating. I think the minutiae, skill level, and intricacy involved are mind-blowing.

In this style, there are some really nice pieces in V&A Museum collection in London (miniature ivory sculptures in particular, if memory serves), and the most incredible I've seen are all in the Imperial Palace Museum in Taipei. Their collection is extensive, for example this insanely detailed sculpture carved into a 1 1/2 inch long olive pit:

So in the spirit of doing either random or simply trying on new things to keep life interesting, on impulse I contacted Susan to find out more about her work. After exchanging a few emails and finding out how she creates these kinds of unique pieces on commission, and thinking to myself I've never done anything like this, I commissioned a pocket watch sculpture for myself.

I'm looking forward to seeing the results and of course will share them with you once I have it!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Book review: Belle de Neige

Image Credit: Ellen Wallace
I just finished reading Belle de Neige and thoroughly enjoyed it. I came across this story quite randomly while checking out what was going on vice.com, read a few of the blog posts, decided to buy the book and devoured it in a couple of evenings. I think it's actually the first time I write a book review on here - mostly lazily copied over from the Amazon review I posted anyways.

I always love crazy stories of the underbelly kind, like Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, or David Koenig's Mouse Tales, and this one is no exception. Life beyond the dronish grayscale cookie cutter lives some are still told is the right way to do things holds so many more fascinating colours and flavours; usually for the best, though sadly sometimes for the worst.

It's a delightfully written story of this kind Belle takes the us on, managing a delicate yet surprisingly well balanced act of bittersweet memories, elated dreameries, gutter elegance, and barking in the face of danger madness.

It made me think about my nephew Keanu quite a lot, reading the epilogue reminding me I can barely read lyrics of or listen to Pink Floyd anymore. Even though it was one of my very favourite bands, I well up almost every time I hear or think about the band now.

It made me think of the travel worlds I've been part of and their underbellies; populated with different variety of interesting locals, backpackers, holidaymakers, scuba divers, tropical island bums, freelancing nomads, and random weirdoes around Asia, parts of South America, and Tanzania. I think I've been one or all of those types at one points or another.

I hadn't thought of it in a long time, but now I'm also thinking I should learn to ski. I've only really been skiing once, when I was like 10 years old for a 3 week school trip so it doesn't even count by now. I wonder if I could be any good / enjoy it.

Sure, we're probably not talking about high brow literary prizes here, but it spoke to me, made me laugh, and moved me. If you like any of those things in life or at least in a book, I highly recommend you take a peek in the world of the Chalet Bitch.

Belle de Neige mérite son nom, unique et magnifique, tout comme un simple flocon.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Belated summary of 2013 and hello 2014

The famous Singapore Chilli Crab! The kind of reason for a few of my extra kilos.

I obviously haven't been writing much of anything here last year, though I did write about a few things I wanted to achieve in 2013 so coming up to April 2014, it's about time I write an update.

1. Context

I talked about consolidation, and I feel that was definitely done. I wasn't sure what it meant then, still not exactly sure what it means now, but I feel like it was a good to time to stop and take stock, which is done now.

I installed a few things to turn my spacious living room into an awesome cinema room - new HD projector and sweet speakers. My flat has become the main hangout for friends, and many chilled movie nights. It's nice to have a place to call my own again, I've been enjoying the creature comforts of home. I've made a great group of friends and a bunch more acquaintances to hang out with.

I threw a couple of big parties, Halloween in particular was pretty insane - over 60 people there and the cops came round to shut it down. Some of the Singaporeans there couldn't believe it, they'd never seen a house party like that (I don't think they'd ever attended a cool house party before). I dressed as a Bavarian beer maid and was serving beer to guests poured out of big fake breasts - corny but great fun. Sweetly decadent, at least by Singapore standards anyways.

I exceeded my money saving target for last year which is pretty cool, and I didn't have to particularly deprive myself of anything which is cool too. On the other hand I mostly failed at any kind health improvements or weight loss, I kept on my line of eating & drinking too much while not exercising much. I'll come back to that.

Work-wise it has been a really interesting year, learned a lot about business in Asia, won an Effie award, won a big piece of new business, learned to work on new industry categories, etc.

Now it's probably time for some change after a relatively quiet year - not sure what yet, I'll keep in touch when there are new news on that front.

2. New things to learn and new places to go

I said it was about time I learned how to drive. I've been saying that for a while, and I'll keep saying it for a while longer... The progress has been feeble. I signed for driving school back in August 2013. Found out it takes about 2 months in advance to book anything. I've booked to take my basic theory test twice, and didn't study at all. The third time was this morning and I didn't go. I was reading a more interesting book about yeast biology over the weekend. I might actually bother with the drivers license the day I actually really need it. 

About yeast biology, my main new thing from last year is home brewing beer. I'm having a blast doing that, I've progressed and I can make a pretty decent drinkable brew now. I want to get better at it and I've been investing in a few bits and pieces. I brewed my latest batch a week ago, which is going to be a vanilla bourbon oatmeal stout. It's already pretty tasty, the vanilla is soaking in there for another week before I bottle it up. I've also joined a group of home brewers in Singapore to learn from other people, bought a few books, and I'm participating in a beer tasting workshop at the moment.

I did an Arduino weekend workshop last year, so that idea was done as well. I got the whole basic kit and played around with it a little. It was a really interesting (and geeky) weekend and I'm glad I learned more about it, though I haven't done much with it since.

My little brother's birthday back in the South of France was awesome - fantastic party of fun debauchery wit the whole family. I didn't go visit many places in the area, I spent more time with the family and a little time helping my sister with her vines. She ended up being the first winemaker in France to crowd-fund a portion of the money she needed to get started, she even got some local press out of it I tasted her first wines over Christmas and they're really good - very proud of her.

Less travels last year but I still had an awesome time for cherry blossom in Japan, joined a fantastic party with loads of locals, foreigners, travellers, and expats for a huge Hanami (cherry blossom viewing party, basically getting trashed in the park under the cherry trees - crucial tradition in Japan) in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo. I also visited my friend Simon in Sabah, Borneo for a weekend, and did some business travelling round Southeast Asia. I also went to Bali and the Gili Islands for a few days, which was pretty sweet.

3. All fun, not so much practice

This last thing I'd mentioned was this silly idea to exercise. I went running a few times after I wrote it, and a few more times about mid-way through the year, but that's about it.

More craft beer bars have been opening in Singapore, I'm brewing the stuff myself, and the food here is just too good and varied to not indulge. I've made some awesome restaurant discoveries in all sorts of styles and cuisines, from close to fine dining to street food and tiny hole in the wall type places.

I did go to a few concerts, and a few more this year as well which is cool - the best thing is to spot some awesome musicians that Singaporeans wouldn't necessarily know about, in which tickets are generally cheap. I went to see Steve Vai a few weeks ago - one of  the best gigs I've been to in a very long time. 

Gaming we did occasionally with some friends, the odd board game night a few times last year which was cool.

Altogether pretty cool year in 2013, I've learned to appreciate Singapore and discover some cool things beneath the surface. Onwards and upwards for this year!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Beersphere Singapore Redux - Christmas edition

The second time I visited Singapore, and with the outstanding help of Simon, we organised the first ever Beersphere Singapore - a casual meetup of linked minded planners and interesting people working in the advertising and marketing industries over some beers. That was a great success, as I remember it about 40 to 50 people showed up and it was great fun!

Now I've been living and working in Singapore for over a year I've been thinking of organising a similar type of event - with the added advantage that I've discovered some excellent craft beer watering holes like the Old Empire which turns out to be the perfect location for a new Beersphere event: it's relaxed, not too far out of the centre, quiet enough for loud people to have conversations, open enough to walk around and mingle with new people, and they have an outstanding selection of craft beers!

Please join us for a few end of year / Christmas beverages, some gossip about the advertising industry, and plannery talk with people at the Old Empire on Thursday 5th December from 7:30pm onwards!

It's at Valleypoint Mall on River Valley Road. Please confirm on either Eventbrite or Facebook, so we have a fair idea of the numbers for the bar owners!

Thanks and see you there!

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

My sister's vineyard: Les Arabesques

My sister Saskia is creating her own vineyard, launching her own wine domain. I went to visit my family in the South of France a couple of months ago and got to visit her new vine plots as well as help her a little bit. It is a very exciting project, I'm obviously proud of my sister for starting up her own business and I'm also looking forward to trying out her wines!

Her vineyard is in the Southwest of France region of Roussillon, at the foothills of the Pyrénées, by the Mediterranean Sea and the Spanish border, the closest large town is Perpignan. It is beautiful region producing some great wines.

Her project has been accepted and endorsed by both her bank for a business loan, and the French Chamber of Agriculture, where she managed to received the highest levels of government grants given to young people setting up on the strength of her business plan, which is also very exciting.

She is on the last final rounds in terms of her financing in order to make sure the project can fully take off and she has sufficient cash flow for her upcoming harvest, and also to raise some awareness and interest in her wines she has a crowdfunding project going on at the moment.

She needs help for the final stretch, please have a look at the project and video - if you are inspired and interested, please participate in the project. That could be by participating financially of course, and also by spreading the news and sending the link to any wine lovers you know, via your social networks.

Link here, please have a look and share the news!


Monday, 7 January 2013

Hello 2013

The Colour of Consolidation
We're already a week into the new year, I don't typically do much of this though I thought it would be good to have a think and write about what this year should be about. I don't exactly take this as resolutions just because I don't think I'd ever stick to any kind of resolutions - maybe it's just semantics, I prefer the idea of creating what this year is about. I saw my friend Adam does it this way so I'm kind of just copying him, really.

1. Context

Of course you never know when life will throw a curve ball, which is also part of the reason why I'm saying it's different from just resolutions, I think of it as creating some kind of context for my life this year.

This year for me is about consolidation, that's the theme I've come up with. I don't think it sounds super sexy or exciting though it does right for me now and the word has come back to mind a few times as I was thinking about the year ahead.

I checked a few definitions and came across this one I like:
consolidation - combining into a solid mass; the act of combining into an integral whole
It's part of the reason I stopped travelling full time, I wanted to take a break, regroup and enjoy some simple creature comforts as well as think about what comes next. To which my cynical voice may well be whispering that Singapore is a fine choice of a place for that... I'm not exactly certain what I'd be combining this year, mostly myself in a way. I like the idea of spending time pulling together my experiences of the past few years into an integral whole, whatever that may be.

It's also material, I definitely intend to save money this year and I have a goal set for that. It is a worthwhile one and slightly challenging, without being impossible or sacrificing much in other areas over the course of the year.

With work, I'm a few months in a new job and new environment, there are a lot of opportunities, one of them being to improve or hone certain aspects of being a planner, and it looks like I have some excellent people to learn from on the planning side of life at Saatchi & Saatchi Singapore which is brilliant. Missing working in a team was also one of the reasons I chose to look for a full time job again and I'm lucky to work with some amazing people.

We'll see what else consolidation might mean as a context for the year as we go.

2. New things to learn and new places to go

The next point is questioning what I am going to learn this year. I'm not talking about trivia, information, or work stuff. I mean a useful and/or interesting activity or skill of some kind. In 2010 2011 I learned scuba-diving, and in 2012 I learned Thai massage.

I've pretty much sorted the main thing to learn this year and it fits in the consolidation theme: driving. I'm 33, it's about time I learn how to drive - I have no idea how to. It's never been of major interest but I know it's useful and as time went by I always had something better to do with my money than invest in learning how to drive. I'm pretty sure one days it'll come in handy so I might as well get that done.

I might try out a few other things as well though not sure what, could be salsa dancing, tinkering with an Arduino board and simple electronics, or figurine painting. I'll keep in touch and write about any of these if they happen.

Now it's not because I say the theme is consolidation that I'm not going to travel at all, so of course there should be new places to go to and explore, plus I'll also be traveling for business (which I don't necessarily consider exploring). Given I'm back in an office I'm switching to different travel styles to fit shorter lengths of available time, and also looking forward to hosting friends and travellers here in Singapore.

My little brother Morgan is turning 30 this year so I'm going to France and I want to go to a few new places around where my family lives in the South west around Perpignan. Nothing crazy, just a few places I haven't been. That could be Montpellier, Ceret, Andorra, Figueiras, maybe going on the Little Yellow Train up the Pyrenees. Other places I'm looking at visiting this year include Java (Jakarta, Borobodur, and Bromo National Park in particular), and I'm looking at a short trip to Japan for the Cherry Blossom. In addition, perhaps a few weekends to nearby places like Malacca or the Cameron Highlands.

3. A bit of practice, a bit of fun

To finish this off and I guess closer to the classic kind of new year resolutions, I've been in Singapore for now 4 months and I indulged a little too much in fine beers / booze and food while settling at a new office job so I started putting on some weight. I've decided to start the year with some exercise and healthier eating. I went running three times since last week (to put that in context the last time I went for a run was at least three years ago) so a bit of regular exercise, I'm eating more healthy and I'm cutting down on beer and Doritos / crisps in particular (my main weakness in the foods that are bad for you though taste oh so amazing department). My plan is to lose about 10kg in the next three months.

The game I'm playing with beer is I'm only allowed if I'm at a good bar offering craft beers and/or a micro-brewery AND I can't offer or suggest going to these places in the first place, I have to be invited. We'll see how that goes, not sure how long I'll play.

Next on line is I've learned foot massage last year and it needs some practice so I can improve, I have a couple of ideas on that front though still working it out.

Now on fun, I've just been realising there are some pretty cool concerts coming up and I haven't been to any big concerts in ages. Among artists I'd like to go see and upcoming in Singapore: Norah Jones, Santana, Deep Purple, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, Journey, etc. Some of those are pretty pricy so I probably wont go to all of them though at least some. Let's say at least 3 big concerts this year and more live music in general. I'll also look out for shows, plays, and musicals.

Next I want to get back into some table top gaming; board games and perhaps role playing games if I find people up for that. Good news is I met some people up for occasional board game nights, I've already had a couple last year, bought myself Zombies, Small World, and I'm very excited about Democracy coming up that I've helped fund on Kickstarter - it looks amazing, looking forward to trying it out.

I think that's about it for now and we'll see what else happens! Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, 31 December 2012

Good bye 2012

Right now looking back at it I think 2012 has been a weird year for me, certainly not bad, a lot has happened and it has been pretty emotional.

I've moved around quite a bit, though this year mostly plane rides rather than extensive overland travelling. It looks like I even topped last year in terms of distance: 38,250km vs. 36,765km in 2011.

I started the year with my parents in Perpignan and shortly after the new year went to Toulouse for surgery to remove sinus polyps. Nothing dangerous, just needed taking care of and one of the points was for me to be in good scuba diving shape. In the end I only went diving once this year.

After catching up with family in Toulouse and recovering from the surgery, I wandered further up North to Orléans, Paris, Beaune, and London to catch up with good friends, some I hadn't seen since before leaving for Asia a year before. I hadn't seen my friend Steve since his wedding a few years back and they had a son just born, and I also spent time with my godson Marcus who was only 3 months old at the time. I kept working on freelance projects on the way.

By the end of February I was ready to make my way back to Asia with plans to keep up the digital nomad lifestyle. I flew over to the Maldives to see my brother and sister in law, and the following day his son passed away. My nephew Keanu passing away definitely had a huge impact, I wrote about it in my blog already if you're interested in having more details.

I stuck to my plan and wanted to spend more time with my brother so I flew back to the Maldives after the funeral. Aside from the tragedy, the unexpected return trip to France shortly after some relatively expensive medical treatments made a serious dent in my finances (I would be reimbursed, thanks to France healthcare system, though much later) and I didn't really feel like staying by myself traveling so I changed my original plans of staying in Sri Lanka after the Malvides, only stayed for a night and then went to see my little brother Morgan in Laos via Bangkok. That was a long trip but I wasn't in a hurry and it was much cheaper this way. I also had a good time on the overnight train from Bangkok to Nong Khai, it was nice to be on the backpacker trail again.

I got back on a proper working schedule in Vientiane and it was also lovely to spend time with my niece Anahi. I managed to get some work including a pretty large project after a few weeks and moved on to Chiang Mai in Thailand where I spent a lot of time working and then a couple of weeks learning traditional Thai massage and foot massage. It's at that time I started questioning what I was doing and whether I really wanted to keep traveling and working the way I was. I particularly was starting to miss having a group of friends to hang out with (which I had in 2011 but not so much at that time in Thailand) and people to work with collaboratively. I also seriously considered a very interesting opportunity to go volunteer for a project in Kenya for a few months, which would have been doing marketing strategy for a recently setup NGO Foundation relating to travel and tourism.

I flew over to Hong Kong for my Birthday and to spend time with my friend James. While I turned 33 this year, we regressed to teenage-hood, played a lot of video games (I blame the release of Diablo 3), and went out drinking, mostly in Sai Kung. I also bought a brand new laptop, new 15" MacBook Pro model - not the retina display though.

I decided to start looking around for a full time job somewhere in Asia. After 18 months of traveling out of a backpack, Keanu passing away, and spending time with friends in Hong Kong I thought it would be nice to take a break from traveling and have a place to call home again. I contacted people I knew in the advertising industry and after a few phone interviews was offered an opportunity in Singapore to start working for Saatchi & Saatchi. I realise now I hadn't even written in my blog about it since I moved in September.

So here I am in Singapore on the last day of the year. It's raining and has been since this morning which doesn't bode extremely well for fireworks tonight. Employed full time again, for a large network advertising agency on big clients, and it seems to be going well. In particular I'm happy and feel lucky to be working with some really great people here. I found a great flat and I have a guest room, if we're friends you're welcome to visit any time you want, keep in touch. The last time I had my own place I was 22 and it was a tiny studio in Paris, I've been sharing all the time I lived in London. In addition to trying out all the foods available in Singapore, I'm back behind a desk and working a lot, so of course I've started putting on weight.

So there you go, I think that's about it for 2012. 8 months more wandering, 4 months back in more or less normal routine life. I travelled to some new places, completed a seriously hot wing challenge, tried some fantastic new wines, experienced the death of a loved close family member, stayed one of the most gorgeous paradise islands in the world, saw a dead dolphin and more live ones, learned some new stuff like massage, took care of some health stuff, caught up with friends and family including time spent with little ones, didn't watch much of the Olympics, watched TV series (Another run of The West Wing I am finishing now) and movies (The Avengers!), played a lot of Diablo 3, got a new job, a new home, and the world didn't end according to the Mayan calendar.

Not too bad for 365 days.

I have to think up what 2013 is going to be about beyond the work routine or else I feel I'll get bored fairly quickly. I've been giving it some thought, I'm not too sure just yet.

I want to thank my close family and my friends for their love, hospitality, and generosity. Thank you Mom, Dad, Morgan, Saskia, Bjorn, Justine, Manuel, Violette, Sandro, Alba, Helios, Antonio, JB, Jo,  James, Adam, Sangita, Graham, Abby, Elo, Seb, Simon, Steve, and many more, I'm sure I'm forgetting people. All my wandering wouldn't have been possible without you.

I also want to thank all my new colleagues and friends in Singapore who have warmly welcomed me here and with whom it is a pleasure to work or hang out with: JP, Sarah, Sabine, Paul, Mel, Stella, Ruth, Kamal, Marvin, Jason, Lionel, JD, Andy, Aishah, Thomas, Steph, Max, and some more.

That's about it for 2012. Bring on 2013.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Have you completed the Planner Survey yet?

The 2012 Planner Survey has been live for a few weeks now so it's about time I post about it. If you haven't heard about it, it's an excellent initiative started by Heather to find out more about the worldwide planning community, originally for interesting information such as our salary levels and the types of agencies planners work at, and over the years going into more questions about planners varied backgrounds. It's a project I love given I always love meeting planners from around the world and learn new things from them, may it be professionally or from the wide variety of other stuff planners are interested in, whatever that might be.

I started helping out with the survey data last year, and this year is going into new directions offering new initiatives for planners to interact with each other directly via Skype, book recommendations, and while traveling with a dedicated private network on Tripping.com. if you're a planner and haven't completed the survey yet, I highly recommend it. The more planners do that, the richer the information we can gather and share back with the whole community.

Heather tell us more in this intro video:

You can go ahead and fill the 2012 Planner Survey here: http://bit.ly/RiTTSt

Check Heather's blog if you aren't signed to the email newsletter to get Planner Survey news every year: http://illchangeyourlife.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/the-planner-survey-is-live/

You can also read the 2011 Planner Survey results here: http://www.slideshare.net/hklefevre/the-planner-survey-2011

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Planners Worldwide is now live, come and join!

As Heather Lefevre wrote about a few months ago, there are a few projects in the works for this year's Planner Survey, in particular I have been working with Tripping.com to create a dedicated network for planners and associated types traveling to connect and meet like minded planners, basically like a Couchsurfing for planners. We had started with a group on the Couchsurfing though we didn't feel it had the features we were looking for, and then we found out about Tripping which looked perfect for what we had in mind.

Tripping was launched in 2009 and as they put it well, it is "a global community of travelers who believe in making the world a better place through cultural exchange." Via the website, people can either search for like-minded people and rooms in over 175 countries, and the site also aggregates rooms available on websites such as Roomorama or AirBnB, it's like a mix between Couchsurfing and Kayak. The site also integrates dedicated Networks either in partnership with companies, organisations,  or groups of people that have common interests. The Networks have a number of features that were perfect for our idea and so here we are!

We are now live so that's left is for planners to join - just click this link and you can easily register by connecting with your Facebook account. There will be mention of this in this year's planner survey though in the meantime if you come across this, please check out the site and sign up! The more planners from everywhere join, the better. We will also be working on developing the content and perhaps update the logo (anyone feeling inspired to take this on?) so I'm also starting to look for people who would be up getting involved in growing the network and keeping it alive. I will be writing some more about this, but for now I'm thinking to have a few planners from different parts of the world and writing dedicated posts on the network for all members, and once it has started it would also be great to gather stories and experiences from planners using the network as well. Please get in touch with me if you might be up for it, let's talk.

I'll be looking forward to seeing you on the Planners Worldwide Tripping network and please spread the word to the planners and strategists you know!

Friday, 29 June 2012

Now certified in Thai massage & Foot Reflexology

I've just completed two massage courses in the past couple of weeks and now have my certifications! It is the first time I have a certification awarded by the Thai Ministry of Education. It's good to learn new stuff and this is the kind of practical training I probably enjoy the most. It was great timing as well given ti is low season here and at most were about three students for four teachers or more at any time, I can certainly recommend The School of Massage for Health here in Chiang Mai if ever you're interested in learning. It's not a big school or a factory like some of the others which I enjoyed as well. Given we were few students we really had a a lot of time with the teachers to learn ask questions and practice a lot.

I passed the Foundation Traditional Thai Massage course with an A. Being in Chiang Mai, I learned the local Northern style Thai massage, which is supposedly a little more relaxed than the Southern Wat Pho Bangkok style, though I have read a few things online about it and the differences sound minimal. Given my teachers also told me the Northern style is different but not that much (Same same but different, as it were) it might simply be a North vs. South thing going on in the country. I was talking to a friend yesterday who surprised me by saying he'd had conversations with people who had visited Thailand several times and had no idea there was such a thing as traditional Thai massage, they firmly believed anything massage related was only to do with prostitution or happy endings. Obviously while those things exist for sure, my courses had nothing to do with it, and Thailand has a big traditions in massage that are a part of their traditional medicine.

Given we were praying to the guy every morning, I looked it up, and the person considered the founder and spiritual leader of traditional Thai massage is Shivago Komarpaj, whom according to Buddhist tradition was the Buddha's personal physician over 2,500 years ago. The basics for traditional Thai massage involves a lot of yoga-like stretching and pressure points based on the Sen lines in the Human body. The Sen lines are a Thai traditional medicine thing, maybe based on though different from the Chinese traditional medicine meridian lines. Beyond the Buddhist tradition, Wikipedia tells me the current forms of Thai massage are most probably a blend of influences from India, China, and other parts of Southeast Asia that were more or less put together around the 19th Century.
Doctor Father founder of Thai Massage, Shivago Komarpaj. Nice beard.
In the first course I learned many different points and lines to manipulate with the person laying on their back, massaging feet, legs, chest, stomach, arms, shoulders, neck, and head. With everything covered I can perform a massage over two hours long - probably close to three in total. A fair warning: if ever you ask for a massage over an hour long, there's a good chance you'll be in for some of the more adventurous stretching positions so be ready. And that's not even involving the more advanced levels with the more extreme lying on your stomach positions (and someone sticking their knees and elbow in your back while stretching your arms in weird positions). It's all for good health, and it's also worth knowing that it is supposed to stretch but not to hurt - unless you enjoy that kind of thing - so if you have a traditional Thai massage, they should ask you how you prefer the pressure, and if it hurts it's not right so don't hesitate telling them.

I enjoyed the first course, had time for another and chose foot reflexology massage which definitely holds its own origins in Chinese traditional medicine rather than a purely Thai heritage. Who doesn't like a foot massage, and it's fairly easy to do, not needing a big mat or a table or anything. I really enjoyed this, and it's pretty interesting to learn all the reflex points and areas for both feet and hands. So I'm trained to perform a foot massage that can easily last up to 90 minutes, and can even add up to 30-45 minutes on a hands massage. I was mainly tought by Teacher Pattana who has 20 years experience in teaching Thai massage so she knows her stuff - the other teachers stepped in for occasional practicing on someone else, and they would all give me different tips and pointers which is great. Everyone develops their own style of massage once the basics of all the positions mastered. On the reflexology side, I have charts with all all the areas and more specifically learned about 26 points for each foot, areas to massage the feet in certain ways for various ailments. I have no idea if it works and it's not supposed to replace seeing a doctor if you need one, but it's all very interesting in any case. I passed the test with an A+ and all the teachers told me I was really good, I just need some more practice now so I'll be giving some massage to friends in Hong Kong!