Spa Girl Abroad: Sanctuary Thailand

DSC01093It’s not simply the fly-ferry-longtail boat¬†journey to The Sanctuary
Thailand
that will leave you wanting to disappear into this lush jungle-beach ‘alternative’ resort forever (and ever…).

(Don’t worry, you can also arrive by speed boat…check out the spa’s website for further info ūüôā

Longtail Taxi Boat

Longtail Taxi
Boat

I adore Sanctuary Thailand! In wintertime, I found myself dancing around a moonlit beach bonfire, rocking in the New Year alongside the most eccentric and varied group I’d ever met: de-toxers and re-toxers, jet-setters, yogis. During my summer visit, I loved the young, health conscious, and flashpacker (upscale backpacker)-solo-traveler vibe.

The Sanctuary Thailand boasts a full-service Spa and Wellness Center, a full-on yoga and meditation schedule with classes held in a gorgeous open-air shala over looking lush jungle, accommodation ranging from mat-on-floor dorms to luxury tree houses, a delicious restaurant, and a Wellness Center offering a comprehensive detox program.

spa time for a thai massage

Spa time!

Gorgeous houses and private rooms are scattered throughout the jungle-beach property. Several accommodation-spa-yoga packages are available.

I’ve stayed in the gorgeous dorm above the restaurant for 200 baht per night ($4!), and in the Wellness Center’s Detox Dorm during a week-long cleanse.My 5-day detox (3.5 days fasting) was a less than $500 and included dorm, cleanse, my “last meal”, plus yoga, spa treatments, and unlimited steams (the clove-spiced steam room before or after a thai massage is to-die-for!).

the dorm gets a clean up

Dorms at Sanctuary
Thailand

The Wellness Center not only offers 2-14+ day detoxes, but also sells Kombucha, wheatgrass shots, and hosts plenty of reading material which can be enjoyed from any hammock or cushy chair on the property.

The restaurant’s menu includes tasty and healthy food which would appeal to any Modern Day Wildwoman (or man). You can order anything
from Thai to Indian, vegetarian to meat-eating with salads, salmon,
and steak. I indulged plenty in the Raw food section which not only
caters to detoxers, but anyone! And trust me, raw food tastes
especially delish during the hot Southeast Asian summer. I sampled
raw treats like ‚ÄúNot yogurt‚ÄĚ (blended raw papaya, full of good-for-you enzymes) to ‚ÄúRaw Pad Thai‚ÄĚ (made with raw radish) and raw soups.

Raw Pad Thai

Raw Pad Thai

striking a pose<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
like the good ole days in LA LA la

Coconut kisses,

Beach
Girl

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Drink + Eat Like a Modern Day Wildwoman: Probiotic Superbrews + Eats

This Modern Day Wildwoman gets her buzz on via fermented beverages.

Of the probiotic and cultured type, naturally.

These probiotic powerhouses burst forth a wealth of health benefits such as aiding detoxification, tipping our bodies towards acid/alkaline balance, and containing beneficial bacteria which our enhance our digestion and increase general feelings of well-being.

You may have heard of probiotic brews. Kombucha¬†and kefir drinks are standard at health food stores around the Unites States, abroad, and now even at certain chain grocers (at least here in progressive California). If you haven’t noticed a special brew in the cold case, you’ve certainly tried, and undoubtedly benefitted from, a probiotic beverage or food unknowingly while dining. Perhaps a Japanese Miso¬†soup, or¬†Korean Kimchi¬†has touched your lips?

You could say my fermentation exploration started in college when I used ‘mealpoints’ at UC San Diego’s Earl’s Place, the on-campus co-op, to buy my first kombucha. To my co-ed delight, ‘bucha left me slightly buzzed in between cram sessions at Geisel Library

English: Geisel Library, UCSD

Geisel Library, UCSD
Named after a writer named Geisel, AKA Dr. Seuss!
(Wikipedia)

But really, this ride began with kimchi, the fermented spicy cabbage dish for which South Korea is famous.

Indeed it did…and in the land of Kimchi, nonetheless.

Kimchi

Kimchi (korea.net)

In 2010, I embarked on a one-year journey to¬†South Korea,¬†adding ‘English as a Second Language¬†Kindergarten Teacher’ to my already…um…varied? exciting? ADD?…¬†resume.

Admin at a Malibu holistic¬†wellness center, beach camp counselor, editorial, PR, television, and talent agency intern, model, actor, fine dining hostess…preschool teacher to cute Korean kiddos all before the age of 24? Okay!

I’d never felt so healthy as I did that year. On top of daily kimchi-munching, I began brewing¬†kombucha, a fermented tea, nurturing my first batches from my lil’ apartment with no windows (aka the¬†Yoga Cocoon). The brewlove was inspired by¬†Aimee, a free-spirit and dear friend who now organizes¬†Project Hope Art¬†in Haiti.

One sticky July afternoon,¬†a special circle of chingus, or friends in Korean, gathered at Aimee’s community garden spot at the edge of Seoul for her going-away party.

The Garden Party July 2010

The Garden Party
July 2010

‘Who’s to be handed down the brew?’ was a hot question on our well-stocked table full of every vegetable you could think of: lettuce leaves, radishes, cabbage, seaweed, fresh and kimchi’d alike,¬†and magguli (rice wine, another fermentation) -filled table. (Thank you, Seoul Community Garden ajjimas and ajjashis, or Korean elder folk, for providing such abundance in our chingu’s honor).

‘Not too fret’, answered Aimee. One chingu would receive the master brew and mushroom. From that master mushroom, if we kept it well fed with black tea and sugar, top layers may be ripped off and shared with friends who could then start their own brew. The rest of the afternoon is a bit blurry with much soju, magguli, and ukulele sing-alongs flowing. A few days later, Aimee sent us future brewmasters a link via facebook with precise brewing instructions. Although Aimee left only a month later, her legacy lived on as the rest of us chingus who were sticking around for a while carried on the kombucha batch and delved deeper into additional fermentation methods.

We got so into the craft of fermentation that we held fermentation tasting parties with blind-taste contests. Only a week after my own departure, a “Fermentation Celebration” was held, organized by the aforementioned chingus, where all thing fermented were celebrated by us foreigners…yogurt, kefir, kombucha, Caucasian attempts at alcohol¬†and kimchi-making, cheese, you name it.

In my humble, but well-read and personally tested, Beach Girl Abroad and Modern Day Wildwoman opinion, fermented foods and drinks absolutely contribute to a healthy body and a happy state of mind. Did you know most of our serotonin, the body’s ‘happy hormone’, is produced in our gut,¬†not our brain? With the help of beneficial bacteria in our tummies, our bodies produce a healthy dose of serotonin.

 

Peace, love, namaste, happiness!

Beach Girl Abroad 

Capturing Your Essence: Asian Superfood Soup

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Continuing to channel the good juju cultivated during my stay in Asia, I’ve created another Asian dish. Superfood veggies such as red cabbage, chard, and kale make up the bulk of this soup. Dried black fungi are a cancer-fighting superfood well-known in Chinese Medicine. Fermented Miso gives a little protein, satisfying umami taste, and healthy probiotics. Avocado and toasted sesame oil add omega-3 fats for a happy brain, and a whole egg adds additional satisfying protein and choline for brain health.

You’ll need:

1 cup dried black fungi (find at Asian market)
1 egg
2 cups-ish Swiss chard, chopped
1 cup-ish Kale, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 avocado
4 tbsp miso
1.5 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil

Bring water to a boil, add chopped veggies (including dried black fungi) and let veggies cook until tender.

Add egg, allow to boil until egg looks cooked through (can leave whole or break it up in pieces).

Turn stove off. Add miso and sesame oil to pot and stir. Serve in bowls, add avocado to top of soup.

To your health! ūüôā

Capturing Your Essence: Dubu Kimchee

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The past few weeks I’ve been seriously missing Asia. The landscape, the people, the inability to understand the conversations going on around me, the 24-hour markets, the endless hours wandering the streets exploring, the¬†freedom

Recalling how healthy and energetic I felt, actually preferring Asian food at times (oh, and getting sick of it plenty, too…kimchi and I had a love/hate relationship), I looked up the nearest Asian market in Oxnard and proceeded to stock up.

A wise friend and Naturopath commented that subconsciously, I’m beginning to channel the essence of myself that I happened to find in Asia. The¬†free spirited¬†me.

A cartful of tofu (Korea calls it ‘dubu’), kimchi, gochujang (Korean Chili Paste), and ‘gim’ (seasoned seaweed), I came home and made a Dubu Kimchi meal on the stove. ¬†How? Sautee kimchee and tofu, add some sesame oil, soy sauce, and sesame seeds, add in some¬†gim,¬†and you have yourself a healthy meal of fermented vegetables and quality vegetarian protein. ¬†Yum!

Also in the cart from East Asia? Dried Black Fungi (aka Anti-Cancer MEDICINE in Chinese Medical Wisdom) and dried wakame (a type of seaweed, good for the female system) to add to soups, and an enormous tub of Miso.¬†I didn’t stop at Korean goodies, either. Capturing my essence, of course, I foraged flavors of Thailand and India (a land I’ve yet to explore, but have a feeling I will find some of my future ‘essence’), as well. Panang Curry Paste, Coconut Milk, Curry Powder, Tumeric…warming spices that ¬†which Mother Ayurveda would highly approve. Next blog!

And I’m Home.

After a sweet So Long Seoul of a send off…
the Seoul amigas sending me off with one last night at the magkuelli bar. ¬†Will miss the crew ‚̧
 
I’m back in California now.
 
 
Life is sweet so far.
the girls.
 
and I LOVE my Mom.

There just so happens to be a new outdoor yoga group meetingat the beach park near my house (and I’ll be helping out subbing once in a while…wooo! ūüôā
I’d forgotten how beautiful everything is here. ¬†

Getting a driver’s license again, car, insurance, is a pain in the butt. ¬†But very worth it to have a life here in the USA.

Life is good.

The lessons of last year are all falling into place.  

I learned I can make myself happy anywhere in the world.  

And I have a whole new appreciation for home.  

Next adventure: Hawaii in August for some more yogi education.  

Prob won’t blog much with the day to day, but will check in here and there. ¬†I deleted this thing for a bit but put it back up because of such nice feedback from family and friends. ¬†Plus, it’s a good reminder of the journey, and a great way to stay updated with all my abroad friends met in Korea and Thailand ūüôā

xoxo
Beach Girl at Home

Wrapping up the Week! Pay Attention to Your Yoga, Pay Attention to Your Life

Alright, much better day yesterday, and today is Friday! Yay!


Celebrated my co-teacher’s birthday yesterday by bringing in a little chocolate birthday cake from Paris Baguette, a chain of pastry shops here in Seoul. On top of the cake, I placed candles that said ¬†
“<3 YOU”, and totally surprised her with the cake, candles, and the kids singing “Happy Birthday” to her. ¬†She was actually touched! It was adorable, “Elisa, I’m so touch-ed”, she leaned over and said to me in her even more adorable Korean accent. It was a special moment, and I love happy surprises.

chocolate cake from paris b. ¬†(totally copy/pasted from the net as i’m too lazy to upload pics as of late…)
My patience was better yesterday with the kids. ¬†I had a good night’s rest and was careful with how much sugar I ate all day. I’m noticing that lack of¬†*quality* sleep (it doesn’t really matter if I get 8, as long as the hours are quality), and/or too much sugar really put me in a “mood”. ¬†It’s pretty easy to get too much sugar here at preschool with all the cakes (see above, which is a daily thing as kids have birthday parties all the time) going around. ¬†Plus the stress that can come with teaching 20 kids sometimes leaves you reaching for chocolate.
I read a great quote the other day, from star yoga teacher Erich Schiffman’s book. To paraphrase:
“Pay attention to your yoga, pay attention to your life. ¬†Both will become more interesting.”
 
So what did I learn this week by paying a bit more attention?
In yoga:¬†My hamstrings are tighter than ever despite teaching 3 classes a week and doing my own lil’ morning and bedtime routines.. ¬†solution?¬†Stay longer in forward bends as to not shock the muscles.
*It’s hard for me to get to bed after teaching evening classes. ¬†Possible solution: How are you teaching this class? ¬†Crap! ¬†Elisa…stop running it like an AM class. Bring the energy down a notch. Enter “moon salutations” and knock off the Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) and backbends. ¬†Chill out. ¬†
In life: 
*unquality sleep + sugar = moods. ¬†Solution: Do things to get better sleep. I stumbled on a book called “The Well-Rested Woman”, and have started taking tips from that, like creating a bedtime routine. ¬†Focus on protein and veggies. ¬†Do I really need sugary soymilk, chocolate, and cakes that are conveniently lying around?
*Tuesday night late evening tea parties at my place with awesome friends are pretty amazing, and being around positive people sometimes can boost my energy like nothing else. Wish i’d done this more throughout the past year! But hey, maybe all that solo time was a good thing, too.¬†
 
Yay for random rambles…Happppy Friday!

Lunar New Year: How I Spent My Stay-cation…

So I feel really boring. ¬†This whole city life/30 degrees as-a-day-time-high thing is turning me into an indoor girl (as much as i’m fighting it with walks, hikes, etc whenever i can fit it in).

2.5 weeks to home.  So excited to get back to California and the beach.

Korea just celebrated Lunar New Year.

I had 5 days in a row off of “stay-cation”. ¬†I made a list of all the Korean festivities I wanted to attend, museums to possibly visit, shopping to do…then…

I didn’t even leave my neighborhood. ¬†

after nearly a year of the¬†commute from hell, I stayed away from any buses and subways, and didn’t leave my ‘hood. ¬†I watched hours of Grey’s Anatomy, a few movies, (and even a few episodes of Oprah), went on four hikes around Namsan Mountain (short walk from my place), made a few meals with friends, taught a yoga class at the local muay thai gym (AKA my saving grace during this final month!), and just plain rested. ¬†There was even one day I didn’t leave my apartment.

I’ve been too apathetic to upload pictures. ¬†(Sorry. ¬†Basically it’s cold, some snow on the ground, I look the same (maybe a slight whiter shade of pale), and the sun is out most days which is cool.)

Loving teaching yoga.

Over the whole watching 4 year olds all day thing.  my patience is wearing pretty thin with that whole deal, 
(ask me again tomorrow, maybe you’ll hear a different story. ¬†sometimes I love the preschool job. ¬†and of course I’ll miss the kiddos, but man, 20 of them all day long…exhausting…)

ready to go home…

treinte y cinco dias hasta…(35 days until…)

35 day countdown!


and it’s already bikini, flipflops, short shorts weather back home in California (yes, in January…this is NOT normal, the weather is so laughing at me right now). ¬†It’s about 25 degrees as a high in seoul, about 4 or 5 as a low. ¬†


I’m forcing myself to not be lazy, get outside, get fresh air…bundle up and take walks…teaching yoga as a nice warming flow rather than a slowish class…of course, in the vain fear that my body will turn to mush within the next 5 weeks and I will, heaven forbid,¬†disappoint¬†my 50 or so swimsuits, surfboard, and eternal springtime California wardrobe waiting in storage, that all have patiently waited for me the past year. ¬†Past year! It’s been a year, holy crap. ¬†


Seoul, it’s been fun, it’ll be bittersweet…but I must bid you adeiu shortly. ¬†


Dad wrote: 
there is a special ticket, for a special seat, on a special plane, waiting to take you home.

Miracle Year and taking some time to sit still…

DSC02625
It’s been a busy month…oh and it’s freezing (low of 12 degrees, high of 25 today, but bundling up is sort of fun)…holidays…get togethers, yoga class every Saturday, and it seems that my workload has increased a bit at school (those sneaky…). ¬†I’ve also been trying to read more and really work on a couple things:

“taking 1 small action daily instead of asking the too big questions”¬†

and 

living abundantly. 

by spending on things that really make me happy instead of stupid¬†unnecessary¬†buys like that 15th cheap tshirt i don’t need. ¬†it’s been so hard to balance this here, as i’ve tried to save, i’ve found myself in deprivation mode…which hellllo leads to binging! ¬†binging on shopping (still cheap here, a “binge” can just be $15, but still!), or saying “what the hell” and spending too much on foreign groceries like $20 cheese after one too many tofu/veggie stirfry nights. there’s gotta be a balance to strike. ¬†and i’m going for it…

like… what can i do today to make myself feel good? ¬†and today that happened to be a $3 glass of wine accompanied by some journaling at the local cafe after work. ¬†last night it was an hour of yoga self-practice and meditation/list-making in my head. ¬†small things. ¬†good stuff.

what else is going on in seoul?
DSC02437DSC02436

“yoga minis”, an awesome concept created by an amiga, Dawn, to get some of us yoga students together each week to take turns teaching each other. ¬†I also just got word that I’ll be subbing a yoga class at the local muay thai gym 3x/week for a couple months till i leave. ¬†Busyyyyy!


Christmas vacay is coming up…1 week off. ¬†Nope, not jetting off to a tropical island (though I was tempted to book a flight back to Thailand), but rather, going to sit still, for once. ¬†It may be freezing, but it’s going to be nice to have a week to chill out in Seoul. ¬†
to do list:
relax, spring for a massage (or three), visit the jiljilbang/bathhouse…spend time with amigas who are staying in town…ice skate…take myself out to breakfast/lunch/dinner…hike Namsan…go for winter runs…skype midweek with my nearest and dearest in CA…drink some vino…sleep… bust some yoga moves…indulge in acupuncture (hey, it’s covered by K-health insurance), eat…repeat for 7 days. ¬†woman of leisure what what.¬†
oh and boring but necessary~make a few preparations for going home like cleaning out closet and mailing my summer clothes home.  
speaking of prepping for homecoming…i got my flight. ¬†march 1. ¬†9 weeks from now. ¬†arrive LAX 9:50am. ¬†this makes me happy, yet i know it will be hard, bittersweet, to leave. it’s going by so fast, too fast. ¬†anyways, saving all that for a future post. ¬†for now, just trying to enjoy it–the little ones, the friends, the apartment, the fresh tofu available on every street corner… ūüôā ¬†

In other news, my friend Katie in Santa Monica, a true inspiration, had deemed 2010 “Miracle Year” at the end of 2009. ¬†In honor of “miracle year”, she’s creating a website all of us can honor miracles that took place each month of 2010. ¬†What an awesome concept Miracle Year was. ¬†So, I’m trying to compile AT LEAST 12 miracles of my own to contribute. Looking back, there’s been tons of ups and downs, even a point at which my spirit, I hate to say it, was pretty dulled. ¬†But out of that, there have been so many positives, so much growth, and I’m grateful for this opportunity to reflect on 2010. ¬†

Katie’s¬†hope is that through PROJECT MIRACLE YEAR, we can inspire each other to pat ourselves on the back, recognize our potential, and spark an even brighter flame going into 2011: ACTION YEAR”¬†
(if you wanna contribute, send by DEC 30 to projectmiracleyear@gmail.com; all posts are anonymous and you can send pics along with your entries)
 
So here goes my first entry:

January 1, 2010:
New Year’s Day.
 
Woke up to my usual cup of Yogi tea after an eventful New Year’s Eve (Super Green Tea Antioxidant was SUPER needed :). ¬†
 
The saying that morning just happened to be, 
“travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light”. ¬†
 
That afternoon I found myself rummaging through storage and reading through my old study abroad travel journals.
I took it all as a sign, and a week later I’d quit my job in California and had put my resume in with a friend in Asia.
 
And here I am a year later, getting ready to return to US in a matter of weeks. ¬†Looking back, I’ve grown so much, learned so much, discovered and solidified passions, realized how hard it is to be truly on my own away from family, and most importantly, that happiness is wherever you wish to make it. ¬†I’ve still got lots of work to do…My backpacker’s backpack still tends to be on the overweight side (travel light), I still have to remind myself to think positively (live light), I’ve found I’m inspired when other tell me I’ve inspired them (my reaction: really?!)..(spread the light), and most of all, I’d really just like to be the light, which I have had glimmers of…but greedy human i am…I just want to be the light all the time. ¬†I guess time will tell if that’s possible. ¬†What a start to Miracle Year was that Yogi tea bag?!

The site will launch on New Year’s Eve 2010…I’ll def be posting the link ūüôā