Koh Phangan Island, Thailand: Haad Yuan

Oh the Thailand trip, glorious Thailand trip. Booked 5 months ago, soon as I got my first paycheck in Korea. During the weeks leading to the trip, I had 4 possibly itineraries worked out for the 8 day trip to the SE Gulf islands of Thailand, ranging from deep sea diving on Koh Tao to checking out several yoga schools on Koh Phangan.  I just couldn’t make up my mind.  I’d be dead set on one thing one day, then I’d talk to someone about their experience and feel completely different.  I was pretty confused.  In the end, I let go, and decided the intinerary would work itself out when I stepped off the plane.

 (oh how grateful I am to have this freedom, it’s akin to having wings)

 Stepped off the plane in Koh Samui and still wasn’t quite sure where I was going.  I had a booking in Koh Samui just for the night, planning to take the ferry to Phangan or Tao in the AM. but something told me I wasn’t going to make it..

Met 2 Australian guys, Rone and Michael, who informed me that there are ferries to the other islands all afternoon, not just the AM like my guidebook said!

So, I hung out with the boys for 2 hours waiting for the ferry, sharing fresh guavas, thai beer, and laughs.

                       Lovely scent of plumeria

The next ferry was to Koh Phangan, where I’d wanted to check out 2 yoga schools for my teacher training (will have time and $$ for this after Korea, yay!)

It didn’t really occur to me that I needed to relax, too! Ha!  Guess I’ve integrated into the Korean go-go-go! way of life.

The ferry to Koh Phangan stops at Haad Rin, infamous for its monthly Full Moon party.  I said goodbye to the Australians there as they were staying for the party, and I wanted to run as far away as I could from the chaos.

I randomly made friends with a girl named Lizzie who I asked about which yoga place to try first, and it just happened she was going to where one of them was located-Haad Yuan!  She said, “Come with me”, and with that, we speedwalked the hell outta Haad Rin to meet a longtail boat which took us just around the bend to the bay of Haad Yuan, a mellow, healing, yogi-filled spot perfect for a relaxing vacation.

Haad Yuan (and Bamboo Huts restaurant) when the sun came out day 3!  It was about 8 o’clock and I was wiped out from the long trip and my crazy no-sleep go go go life in Korea (which is changing now, I’m determined to say no to extra work and take time for me now).  I was ready to pass out.  I checked out one place, Eden, first, but then remembering I had made a penciled reservation at “Bamboo Huts” bungalows (very close to one of the yoga places to check out), which just happned to be next store to Eden, I headed over there to check into my bungalow.

Somehow found the energy to head back down to the Bamboo Huts restaurant for dinner.  I sat down on a cushy pillow overlooking the sparkling bay and had a giant bowl of green curry for 90 baht (um, $2!) and a huge fruit plate, and eavesdropped on the conversation going on next to me.  It was a lively group and from my brief espionage, I determined that at least 3 of them were yoga teachers.  They were talking about a visualization/meditation about each person’s relaxing spot in the universe or something.  I just layed back on the pillow on the floor, loving every word and thinking that life in that moment was just perfect.  In another part of the restaurant, up on the “dinner deck” was a young Aussie strumming guitar.

This place was perfect for the vibe, the chatter, musical, creative people all around.

goofin around after dinner at Bamboo

After a while, I headed back up to my hut and sat on the porch for a bit trying to play some uke.  The Australian guitar guy came up and introduced himself.  I was so exhausted and dead that I probably seemed like a bitch, but he put up with me and we talked a bit. He showed me a few things on the uke, including the fact that my tuner was messed up!  After about a half hour talk, he told me, “You look like you need a month here”.  Yes, I was exhausted.  And with that I went to bed.

Private hut at Bamboo Hut for 4 nights…perfect for some solitude and catching up on much need zzzzzz’s…

Next morning, rain was pouring down.  But that didn’t stop a group of us from heading to yoga!  We climbed up to one of the most amazing yoga shalas I’ve ever seen.  As I did my first sun salutation, getting the kinks out from the airplane ride the day before, all I could hear was the sound of nature.  Jungle sounds, rain, birds, even a rooster…no street noise, no distraction.  I was finally where I’d dreamed of for the last few months.

walking up to Blooming Lotus

~compassion~: om mani padme hum
       heaven in a yoga shala: striking a tree pose

After yoga, a big group of us, at least 10, went down to the restaurant to meet others staying at Bamboo Huts.  I was thinking of leaving that afternoon, wanting to check out another yoga place.  My new Aussie friend, Ryan, was trying hard convincing me that this part of the island is the best place ever and to stay.  Michael, one of the residents there, called me over to his table where a bunch of people sat, and read my ‘Mayan horoscope’.  Apparently I’m a ‘Radiant Red Earth’, meaning synchronicity, between heaven and earth..sounds pretty similar to ‘Gemini’ astrology…) and that’s all I remember!

I’d landed in some sort of alternate hippie reality.

In the end, I felt very welcome, and curious, I heeded the hippies’ advice and stayed on this part of the island.

And I’m so happy I did.

Everyone seemed to know eachother, but instead of being cliquey,  they welcomed me with open arms.  Almost the entire rainy first day was spent at the restaurant overlooking the water, eating thai snacks and just getting to know everyone there.  A group of 10 people had just come to Haad Yuan after a 10 day Silent Meditation retreat (Vippassana, if you’re curious, read more @ dhamma.org).  So it was pretty cool talking about their intense experience and seeing how close these strangers had all become AFTER their experience at the meditation.  Since it was rainy and life had slowed to snail’s pace around the bay, I had the chance to talk to a few local yoga teachers about different trainings around the island, which was cool.  Better than any guidebook or website could have told me.

By sunset time, the weather had cleared up enough to explore the bay on my own.  And take a dip in the crystal clear ocean.

The next couple days are kinda a blur…I was physically and mentally exhausted from work in Korea, and just getting into “vacation” mode took hard work.  My mind kept telling me I had to always be doing something.  I used to be so good at this leisure thing!  What happened?!

This part of the island is so remote that there isn’t any shopping, so couldn’t distract myself with that.  Thank goodness.

So … in a way, it was like being forced to learn how to enjoy free time again.  I busied myself my exploring the surrounds, taking yoga, writing, taking advantage of my hangin’, swimming, and just enjoying some time for me…

hammock, ukelele, journal (not pictured), and yoga mat make good travel pals

One thought on “Koh Phangan Island, Thailand: Haad Yuan

  1. Pingback: On Healing: Silence Your Inner Gypsy-Critic. Then, Focus. | Beach Girl Abroad

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