Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Paradise smells like..


On the flight from Colombo to Bangkok, I realized I smelled a little funky. I was clean, don’t get me wrong. Just…spicy. The smell, a mix of masala, Indian detergent, and, I think, mold, lasted only a few days. I could smell it in my luggage, as well (I’m guessing the boxes I sent back home are equally fragrant. Something to look forward to!). Now that it’s gone, I miss it.

I spent two amazing days doing f*ck all in R and T’s apartment on the outskirts of Bangkok. T is a teacher at a Thai/Chinese school and R is a writer. They’re from my home town and they’re lovely. I hung out in my air conditioned room , took a hot shower, fretted about my smelly luggage, and watched Law and Order (two months without TV!). The trip from Kochi to Bangkok took almost 24 hours, which meant I needed at least two days to recover (because I am OLD and SENSITIVE!).

My third day I decided I needed to head to the islands as per my plan. A small glitch: my lower back had started to spasm after my journey (I spent a lot of my second day rolling around on a cricket ball, relieving pressure from my sacrum), and I realized a 12 hour train journey + ferry + longboat ride was out of the question. So I flew to Koh Samui and ferried it from there.

Why Nam Beach

I headed to Koh Phangan, home of the mythic fully moon party. Coming to the island for yoga, I really had no interest in rubbing fluorescent paint on my bare skin and dancing to trance tunes, so I skipped Haad Rin and boated to Haad Tien, and then walked to Why Nam beach where the yoga is. I stayed at The Sanctuary the first night, a rather rowdy place for a yoga and detox centre (not where I was going to practice), and then moved to Why Nam beach proper. It’s kind of like paradise: a small, barely used beach, a wooden hut in the treetops, yoga on top of the waves…
View 1 from my bungalow. 

A bit of a hike. 

View 2.


Except for the smell. The place only gets electricity for about 12 hours of the day (five hours officially, from 6pm to 11pm, but usually there’s power by noon), and the source of this energy is a behemoth of a generator that belches exhaust continually. As luck would have it, my bungalow was just above the generator. I went to bed early the first night and woke up around 10:30, coughing and feeling sick.

That little concrete roofed specimen, there. 

Sometimes when I’m stressed out, I imagine smells. At the Banff Centre, for instance, I walked around for two hours questioning all the staff about a “paint” smell that no one else could detect. But this one, kids, is not my imagination.  When I asked at the restaurant, one of the men said, “sometimes.” And he’s right! It’s gone! Oh, and now…it’s back.
Winter scenes on my bungalow's roof. To keep occupants cool? 


The smell issue was unfortunate – this place would have been pretty perfect otherwise. I mean, I was sleeping in a shack and my bathroom had no sink, but it was quite picturesque otherwise. But after three frustrating nights, I left Why Nam and headed to Mae Haad. I discovered that parts of the island (okay, most of the island?)  is really a party place. My last day at Why Nam I walked to Haad Yuan and came upon a disco full of drugged out dancers partying it up at noon. I found out later that The Sanctuary is busted by police about once a month (there's a weekly Friday blow out that goes until 6 in the morning).

All this to say it’s a bloody good thing I didn’t come here 10 years ago – I would have died.

Anyway, Mae Haad was lovely. I left yesterday after a week of practice with O.
View from Bungalow #2 at Wang Sai Garden.

The garden.

Mae Haad beach. Koh Ma in the back there. 

More beach. 

Trip to Bottle Beach - gorgeous!.


I breathed clean air and frolicked in the warm water and practiced every morning in a proper shala. I really started to feel the island vibe - a different frequency entirely.

Just in time to leave and come to Bangkok! I'm staying in a quieter neighbourhood, a 20 minute walk from Khao San Road, although I did wander there today. It reminded me of a ramped up St. Laurent street festival. Maybe tackier and with better fruit.

And the smell here? More diesel fumes, pollution, tar. I've had to break out my inhaler twice today. Looking forward to heading north to cleaner air in a few days time!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello,
i'm french and i'm planning my trip to thailand.
As you did, i'd like to stay at wang sai garden.
Do you have their email adress or phone number still?
Thanks a lots!

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