I’m not sure if I’m a masochist, a romantic revisionist, or if I actually did enjoy not eating anything for a week in Thailand, but I’ve decided to end my time in Asia the same way it started: with a detox.
I’m in Chiang Mai right now, headed to Bangkok later tonight for a day or two in that intense, crazy city that I’ve actually grown quite fond of. After that I need to hop on over to Burma to refresh my visa-free entry stamp (while people flying into Thailand get 30 days without a visa, those entering via road get a woefully inept 15), and then I’m returning to the first place I fell in love with, Koh Phangan.
Last time I did a detox on this island I went 5 days without eating, bookended by a few days of a raw diet, and got daily colonics. It was an interesting experience, to say the least, but for some reason this time around I feel the need to outdo myself, at a different retreat. This detox will be 7.5 days of fasting, with colonics TWICE a day. Did I mention I might be a masochist? Stay tuned.
I visited Nusa Lembongan, a small island off the coast of Bali, for 5 days when I was in Indonesia.
I had heard it was nice but didn’t really know much about it. I was looking for better coastline than I’d found in Bali which, for all its fame, has surprisingly disappointing beaches. What I found was a laid-back, low key, surfing spot whose local culture and religion was prioritized over tourism. An island with the worst roads of any place I’ve been so far, yet nary a motorbike helmet in sight, some of the friendliest people I’ve met anywhere, and gorgeous hidden viewpoints that I would feel like I was the first person to discover.
I needed to have a departure ticket in hand in order to enter Indonesia and I was headed there in less than 2 days, so I’d been seriously putting it off, mainly due to general indecision and flakiness: in the past 36 hours my post-Indonesia plans had changed from Borneo, to the Philippines, to India, to Northern Thailand.
But with no time to spare I figured out what my next step will be, and I couldn’t be more happy with how it shaped up: I’ll be flying into Singapore, then taking a long, long train ride all the way up to Chiang Mai. I had totally forgotten that trains were an option for international travel over long distances, but once I remembered they were I knew I had to do it. I’ll be covering all of peninsular Malaysia and pretty much all of Thailand on the way up, and the journey will take 4 days at the very least, though most likely I’ll take longer. I’ve never done a long train ride like that before, and I’ll get to see some ridiculous landscapes and eat some terrible train food. It’s a month away but I’m really, really excited.
So for the first time this trip, I’ve reluctantly pre-committed to a departure date for somewhere I’ll be visiting (although what I’m doing in Indonesia between that time is totally undecided). As it stands now though, I’m leaving for the island of Bali tomorrow, June 17, and I have a flight booked from there to Singapore on July 16. We’ll see what happens in that month…
I wrote this incredibly enthusiastic blurb on the night I arrived on Perhentian Kecil. It was warranted; we ended up staying 10 days. Go here.
After 10 blissful days in one of the most idyllic settings I’ve ever spent time in, it’s finally time to move on. We extended our stay every day, not wanting to leave, but we’ve done everything we wanted to do and it’s best to not travel on the weekend, so today is the day. This was basically the most relaxing vacation I could have ever put together, endless days spent reading, eating, sunbathing, snorkeling, swimming, diving, and doing nothing at all on a beautiful, exotic island.
Last night I was thinking about how, if I was still doing my daily grind in San Francisco, this would have been my big vacation for the year. To be sure, I’ve loved my work and living in SF, and found plenty of time for leisure activities outside of the 9-5, but the idea that 10 or 15 days is enough vacation for an entire year is seeming more and more ridiculous these days.
We caught a ferry from Phi Phi to Ko Lanta, our last stop in Thailand. Once we got there we were faced with the most glaring example of low season we’ve seen so far. Ko Lanta is known as a diving paradise, but during this part of the year most tourist activities are shuttered. Only recently have hotels begun to stay open during this period, although not many of them do. The island was almost completely devoid of foreigners; we were the only two people on our floor, and I went on several long motorbike rides where I never passed another pale face. After the in-your-face Euro party scene of Phi Phi, it was just what I wanted.