Travel Journal

Koh Yao Noi, Thailand, 2/22-2/27

(Saturday 5 March 2011) by Joanne Chang
After 10 days in silence I want to go somewhere super chill. I consider going back to Haad Tien but decide to leave Koh Pha Ngan just as it is -- a perfect moment in time, a fasting of the body and mind, a place where I became whole. I want to remember it just for that. So I join Ben, a fellow Vipassan-er, on a journey to Koh Yao Noi, a tiny island off Krabi on the west side of Thailand, where I'd originally planned to start my trip but never made it. It's perfect.

It takes us four Songthaews (truck-taxis), two buses, a tuk-tuk, a pickup truck, a ferry, a speedboat, and an overnight in Ao Nang to get to Koh Yao Noi. It's a haul but I enjoy the journey, taking in the sights and sounds of an outside world we've been sheltered from. It's a treat to have food and drink options; Ben and I get some snacks for the ride (fried bean cake with chili sauce, mmmm!) and I try to remember my food reflections, and we share our experiences of the retreat. It's nice to have a travel partner, especially someone who's been through the same (similar) experience the last 10 days, who I can decompress with and not feel the need to fill up silence with idle chit-chat. And Thailand's got tourist travel down pat -- it may take awhile to get where you're going, but at every stop there's a connection to move you along or book accommodations or have a snack.

Island Yoga
Island Yoga
Koh Yao Noi is exactly what I'm looking for. A tiny Muslim fishing village with enough to cater to tourists (ie, English signs, bungalows, bike rentals), but predominantly centered around local life. Ben and I get bungalows at Tha Kao Bay View, mine overlooking the Andaman Sea, where I can wake up to the sunrise from my balcony. My room is big enough to do yoga and the owners are warm and welcoming, and they dish up good food and fresh coconuts and fruit...a perfect place to call home for a few days. I'm excited about Island Yoga being right down the road, even more excited that they offer flow classes, and enjoy the slow pace -- waking up just before sunrise, doing morning meditation, attending 8 a.m. yoga, breakfast, breathing, reading, catching up with friends and family back home (free wifi/skype!), dinner, and bed. One day I rent a bike and go around the island, beaming at everyone in my path, my smiles returned quickly and easily by the locals who appear to be the happiest people on earth.

Yoga lessons at Buddha Beach
Yoga lessons at Buddha Beach
Meditating on the playa
Meditating on the playa

A couple days in, Oliver (another fellow Vipassan-er) joins us and it feels like the three of us are old friends, like we always meant to be here in Thailand together. He gives us a 2.5 hour private yoga lesson on the Buddha Beach overlook, and it's like our own little yoga retreat with the man who brought yoga to Japan. Afterwards we hit the beach for a swim, not another soul in site. We end the day riding motorbikes to dinner with stars shining in the peaceful night, and kick back at the Rice Paddy with yummy Thai food, seriously good gelato, and the best coconut-banana shake you've ever had.
I leave the next day with even more than I arrived with...can a girl be so lucky? (...yes, I've decided...she can...so enjoy!) 0:-)

 


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