As you may be aware, I’ve spent the month of March on the beautiful island of Koh Pha Ngan, off the South East coast of Thailand, next to the more famous Koh Samui and 1500km south of Chiang Mai. It’s been a total change of both environment and activities.
Koh Pha Ngan is a hilly, green island, with lots of beaches and a lot of wildlife. You can always hear birds singing, crickets chirping (they are LOUD!), or other wildlife. I have seen many many Geckos, and some creepy crawlies and insects I’m less keen on thinking about!
I’m been staying in the Ananda health resort, specialising in detox and yoga, and across the road from the sea – the views are beautiful and soothing, and every night there is another amazing sunset (see the end of this post for some sunset views!).
Here I have a ‘Bungalow’ (oddly not at ground level), which is a main room with a bed, desk, wardrobe, TV and chest of drawers, and three small windows that provide ventilation, if not much light. The bathroom, as in most Thai bathrooms, is a wet room, so no separate shower, but at least it’s big enough that you don’t have to shower on the loo (which can happen!). I also have a fan and AC, which are definitely worthwhile in the heat here.
Inside isn’t quite as nice as my Chiang Mai apartment (see the the fabric choices in the pic above!), but the location is fabulous, and the people are friendly. I have a large balcony with desk and hammock, which is fringed and sheltered with flowers and greenery, which giant bees buzz cheerfully around.
The resort is small and includes a great veggie restaurant, a saltwater pool where the water is like silk on your skin, and a steam sauna. And I’ve taken advantage of them all!
Doing: Yoga; Biking; Fasting
The main reason for coming to the island was to do a one-month yoga course. I was a bit nervous about this for a number of reasons. Most of these were physical – the course involves 4 hours of yoga a day, 6 days a week, which is more exercise than I have done for a long time. There’s also a 2 hour lecture each day, plus other optional meditations and the like. So a busy schedule. I bike there and back each day, twice a day, which is 12km altogether in the blazing sun (usually about 33 degrees). My new bike is called ‘Cosmic’, and I like it but wish it had some (any!) gears as Koh Pha Ngan is a bit more hilly than Chiang Mai… But my fitness levels have definitely improved!
I also got caught up in the excitement of staying in a health resort, where many people come for the excellent detox programme. One day I was chatting about it all with the owner of the resort, and the next day I found myself on a 7-day fasting detox! Removing all food, and surviving on clay and psyllium husk shakes, a coconut water and a carrot juice definitely pushed me, and I did miss a couple of days of yoga. I’ll leave off the grisly details of the detox (ask me if you’re interested) as whilst it included nice things like massage, there were also many colonics…. It was worth it in the end, as some weight came off, but more importantly I felt lighter inside and out, and it reset my eating habits.
After a few months of just travelling, as you will know from my previous post, I had decided to explore working both remotely and locally in SE Asia, to earn enough to spend more time on this amazing journey. I’ve been lucky enough to have some success with this, perhaps more than expected as I didn’t plan on starting anything until May, but in fact, have already done a few days. It’s been interesting fitting this around the yoga particularly – there have been some days where I got up early, went to yoga, came home, worked (sometimes from the café looking at the sea, sometimes from the hammock!), biked back to yoga, and returned about 9pm to do more work. An unusual balance! But it’s mainly been energising, and I think I’m keeping it under control – I’ve even said no to a couple of things…
As well as this blog (which I continue to love – please continue to keep reading!), I also have some other projects I’ve been involved in. One is Luxury Boutique Hotels where I am blogging and reviewing, and I have also been interviewed by the travel blogger Emily Luxton. I’ve been really pleased to be part of both of these. I have also continued with The Artists’s Way, course which I have nearly finished, and doing my journaling, Artist’s Dates, etc.
Doing: Visa run
I had a whole blog entry written about this – I had to get up at 5am, go to Koh Samui on the ferry, went on 4 motorbike taxis, made my application in person at immigration to get my visa extended, went to a strange café run by a giant Norseman where we had a misunderstanding about bacon, was granted the visa several hours later, and made it back to Koh Phagnan in time for yoga in the afternoon.
Unfortunately, I wrote all this on my iPhone, and my handbag was stolen a couple of days later (whilst I was cycling home, two men on a motorbike snatched my bag), so lost the post, as well as a fair few other things, including credit cards, money, kindle and one of my Artist’s Way journals :-(. And all this directly after the yoga lecture on detachment around possessions. Hum. But, it was only stuff, and I wasn’t hurt. All is well.
Amongst all this, I have managed to relax, as I am sure you will be pleased to hear. I have had Sundays off from the yoga, and have spent these mainly in the hammock, watching sunsets (I might be a bit obsessed…) and sipping fruit shakes.
I’ve just ‘Graduated’ in a lovely ceremony where the whole Yoga school comes together to celebrate, and I even got a certificate (a certificate!!!). I’ll shortly be returning to the UK for about 5 weeks, to see friends and family and sort out my flat for renting. Sure I will also reacquaint myself with rain and the cold! I also have some work booked for when I am home, which is amazing.
Despite a couple of inevitable lows, I feel so lucky to be where I am right now, and feel confident that doing more yoga and physical activity will be beneficial in the long run. Already a couple of good moments have included touching (well, perhaps brushing is the word, but still!) my toes, and getting up into headstand (against a wall) by myself, feats I wouldn’t have managed a month ago.
The yoga has been a challenge, but I feel like a different person. It has been wonderful focussing on my body and health as a priority, and has come at the right time. I even have a bit of a tan – mind you, a farmer’s tan, no bikinis for me, though I have spent a bit of time in the pool.
Once I return to Thailand from the UK in May, I may well come back to do more yoga (there are another 23 levels!!!), or I might return to Chiang Mai. I also see a visit to Vietnam at some point in the future. But nothing is planned apart from a flight into Bangkok airport. I have time to decide. I can make it up as I go along…