Day 240: Bangkok to Koh Samui: I Dreamt of Steak, and Now I Cleanse
It’s amazing how exponentially better life gets once you leave Bangkok. Love me a few days of Bangkok malls, skytrain people watching, and indulgence all around (having just come from Cambodia, you would understand). But having been before in 2015, it was definitely a get me in-get me out kind of situation. More on that in a bit, but first, let me cue you into the present moment…south of Thailand, beachside, recalling the crazy dream I had last night.
In this epic dream, I’ve come back to the other side: being a carnivore. I apparently devoured a giant spread of Peter Luger’s steak at someone’s engagement party or wedding – Jules and Molino were in the dream, so one of you guys were responsible! It was absolutely visceral, I could literally taste the carnage, that unmistakable texture of tender juicy meat soaked in some kind of heavenly garlic sauce. I woke up with crazy cravings unlike any other, and slightly more anxious than yesterday about this detox I’m about to take on at Koh Samui’s Spa Resort, otherwise known as the 7-Day “Clean Me Out” Detox Program. Mind you, I’ve never been without chewing for more than a few hours in my life, let alone a diet or detox.
Let’s break that down: NO solid foods for seven days, and in its place, daily – 30 herbal supplements, three detox drinks, and TWO self-administered colonics. I didn’t even know what that word “colonics” was until learning about this center. Let’s just say, I’ll be getting quite intimate with my anal sphincter these next few days. Google it if you’re curious, but let’s get into that whole thang another time.
Back to the reality of right now – I’m about to eat my last meal for the next seven days in just a few hours and my mind is racing. How does one go without CHEWING for seven days? How does one go without choice of flavor and texture for seven days? It’s all becoming much more real, and the anticipation/fear of the unknown is really the absolute worst. In these bouts of doubt and anxiety, I do waffle on whether I really need to go to these lengths to boost my health – I’m already on a vegetarian diet and pretty consciously try to eat two meals a day with light fruit snacks in between breakfast and dinner (though when travelling, the constantly changing environments do call for flexibility around diet and food choices). So, the million-dollar question: WHY?
Well, and this really is a question for me to answer only, I think besides being curious about this whole nutritional experiment (as this specific program came highly recommended by one of Wylie’s chef friends), the opportunity to do something like this comes at a mystic moment. Timing wise, this moment feels transitional and more than ever, the mantra of “wishing to see myself more clearly” has come up more times than can be ignored. Having done my homework and looked into the benefits of a juice detox, I feel confident that seeing this program through will give me the clarity of mind and body, not to mention, a whole new GI makeover to rewire and re-energize the system. This has all culminated since wrapping up my solo trip in Cambodia and moving on to new rhythms, energies and intentions. Of course, the overriding energy was in large part influenced by a week of crazy city vibes in Phnom Penh and then off to Bangkok.
Bangkok was no walk in the park. Like I said, I’ve done this city once before during my first solo trip, but this time around had a completely different tone about it. I’ve often times imagined what it will inevitably be like to return to the States and acclimate back to a world where everything you want, when you want it, exists. The first world luxury of convenience, abundance and indulgence right at your very finger tips. Coming from developing countries, I can only imagine what that reverse culture shock must feel like, experiencing poverty vicariously through others to the exact opposite. Well, let me tell you, Bangkok was a real dose of that very reality, more than I could have ever imagined the first time around.
We booked a hostel, dorm room style, as private rooms are off the rocker expensive in this city! We landed a spot called Barn and Bed Hostel about 40 minutes away from the touristy center of Khao San Road, which was nestled in the business-financial center amongst the BTS Skytrain station and a giant behemoth of a mall called Emporium Quartier. We soon learned that this mall was literally the crack of malls, and not necessarily in a bad way – all luxury and polish, there is nothing unsophisticated about this giant shopping center. Picture every luxury brand imaginable mixed in with a giant IMAX, trampoline bounce station, never-ending food quart with endless selections (including charcoal and matcha flavored everything because apparently that’s the new trend) and a super chic looking KFC whose floor is transparent and laid across a pool of water with fancy up-lighting. Whaaaaaaat?!
Can you see why Bangkok has caught the mall bug? Or is it I that’s caught the bug? Either way, this arguably unhealthy curiosity did lead to one good outcome. After unfruitful research into affordable vegetarian restaurants around town, we realized that the cheapest and most delicious veggie restaurant was located in (yes you guessed it), the mall! Of all places, it’s crazy to think that a city of 8 million people didn’t figure out how to open up an affordable vegetarian restaurant in ALL of Bangkok. But alas, the genius who did, decided to set up shop and charge a rice with two side dishes for 80 baht (a little less than $3). All the other options were at least over $6, much like what you’d have to pay for back at home. Thanks, but no thanks J
Being so far away from all the touristy hullabaloo was wonderful in the sense that we could just focus on doing less, and see more of real Bangkok (whatever that form was supposed to take). Not gonna lie though, eating the best and most affordable vegetarian food in a mall did make us more curious about Bangkok malls in general (and sampling foods in their equally intriguing food quarts), I can’t even believe I’m admitting to that out loud. I should also mention that we stayed in Bangkok far longer than any sensible human should, mainly for our appointment at the US Embassy to renew our passports. As such, LOTS of time to kill in the city of malls. Also, lesser known facts about Bangkok – did you know that there are BJ bars and super affordable dental clinics all on the same street? I should have you know that during a leisurely walk in the expat-y neighborhood of Ekkamai (also the home of Bangkok’s best coffee shops), Wylie and I made the best $30 purchase ever…teeth cleaning! You’ve got to figure that the stats don’t lie when they rank Thailand as one of the top 5 medical tourist destinations in the world.
Anyways, five days of Bangkok was definitely plenty. I think the universe wished to send me off on a high note and gifted me the most wonderful parting I could have asked for: I went in search of the SGI in Bangkok (come to learn that this city has four centers) and upon finding the center, met the most welcoming and lovely Indian man Bala who greeted me and got me all settled in to chant. After 30-ish minutes of chanting for the FIRST time at an SGI center this entire trip, we mystically crossed paths again outside. Bala and his friend/also SGI member Monica (visiting from Doha for business) invited me out to lunch for delicious Indian food not too far away from my hostel. Two lovely SGI friends, deeply moving conversation and a ridiculously satisfying FREE North Indian thali later, I was happy and feeling more grounded than ever. I had actually chanted earlier that day to connect with the rhythm of “what I need” vs. “what I think I need,” which given the turn of events, seemed like all was right in the world J
Later that evening, we embarked on our next adventure, leaving Bangkok for the island of Koh Samui. A total of 16 hours, one train, one subway, two buses, one 2-hour layover, one boat, and two tuk tuks later, we finally arrived at our destination, aptly called Chill Inn Hostel. This island’s neighboring island, Koh Phangan is famous for its full moon jungle parties, so my guess is that everyone who found themselves here in Koh Samui, like me, needed something a bit more laid back and grounding. The first night in, we stumbled across three female travelers who seemed to recognize me from BOHO hostel in Cambodia – this is now the second time this has happened! I find that when I meet travelers in this way, all is flowing exactly as it should, and this was a good omen to come across.
And that brings me to the current moment, typing away and reflecting on this last week’s evolution from crazy to a semblance of stillness and grounded-ness at Koh Samui’s Spa Resort. Wish me luck for day one of juice detox almost t minus seven hours away…