Making a swift exit from Koh Phangan’s full moon party via longtail boat made me feel a little bit like the James Bond of all party pooper. And I liked it. #noregret
That is because I had a date with the divine at a yoga resort aptly called The Sanctuary, a health and wellbeing haven hidden in a gorgeous secluded cove a mere five minute boat ride (yet feeling like miles away) from the debauchery of the full moon party.There are some places you’d rather not tell anyone about. Places that feel sacred and unspoiled where a handful of people in the know, those who are vibrating on the same level, go to nurture their mind, body and soul. The Sanctuary is most definitely one of those.
My hideout came in the form of a wonderful wooden hill side bungalow built amidst the rocky nature (one of the walls of my open air bathroom was a gigantic boulder), hidden in a lush jungle garden. The hammock on the balcony quickly became my place of choice to laze around and listen to the waves while wearing very little clothing – an invaluable luxury, having spent the last few months with dorm-mates, Couchsurfing hosts or camping at not exactly nude-friendly places such as Buddhist temples and gas stations. The Sanctuary has different types of accommodation for all budgets, ranging from dorms to large family treehouses. Mine came with crisp, white bedding, stylish furniture and decoration, a massive balcony and a hot water open air shower – a bit of a luxurious slap in the face for the minimalist cyclist that I have become!
A HEALTH AND WELLNESS PARADISE
One thing I was looking forward to was the yoga. Since doing my yoga teacher training in India last February, I have chiefly been exploring my own practice and was in dire need for a push in the behind as well as some alignment cues and stretching help. My teacher Jannica delivered all that and then some in her explosive 8am vinyasa classes which left me a sore and sweaty mess on the floor. A short visit to the spa for a neck and shoulder massage and a salt scrub made me a new woman and I was ready to do it all over the next morning. The Buddha hall where the yoga classes are held is an open air platform in the jungle garden next to a plant nursery, set amidst stone statues in various states of being taken over by moss – the very definition of a sanctuary. It is also in this sacred space that the free 6pm guided meditations are held and precisely where I took refuge as the full moon party was unsuspectedly in full swing just a few kilometers away.
The Sanctuary offers three, seven and ten day yoga holiday packages that include daily yoga classes and spa treatments, as well as healing therapies, steam room passes and private sessions with a variety of healers, therapists and teachers. There is also a wide variety of detox programs to choose from, based on fasting, colonic cleansing, and a pre / post raw vegan fruit and vegetable menu, superfoods, and natural supplements. Although I didn’t engage in any of the latter (I am admittedly a little scared and skeptical of colonic cleansing, but I am growing curious enough to maybe give it a try someday), the Wellness Center was a wonderful oasis in which to relax in a hammock whilst reading any of the books on offer, sipping on a young coconut spiked with spirulina or a shot of wheatgrass.
The cleansing raw vegan menu was also a highlight of my visit. The restaurant caters to vegetarians, vegans, raw vegans and gluten intolerants with a few organic fish and seafood options thrown into the mix. I ordered the grilled veggie and mango quinoa salad from the traditional menu, the raw coconut soup from the cleansing menu and a cucumber, lime and spirulina smoothie. Other attractive menu items include hummus, cashew dips, wraps, veggie burgers, Indian fare such as the “Ganesh Special” (fresh veggies in Indian spices and coconut milk) and Thai specialties such as “Khanom Gin” (brown noodles with tempeh in a coconut sauce, topped with basil). The raw cleansing menu is aimed at people who are there to fast and dishes are divided in day 1, 2, 3 and 4 post-cleanse, going from simple fruit and vegetable plates to more elaborate and tasty-sounding dishes. People are asked to not use their mobile devices at dinner time to foster a social atmosphere, which is lovely.
The Tea Temple is a beautiful open-air cafe located a little more inland close to the gardens and is the place to meet and greet with the healers, listen to free talks about alternative health and wellness or just chill with a book and choose from a selection of teas, smoothies, wraps, salads and soups, as well as a few vegan sweets. I had a banana, maca and coconut smoothie and some bliss balls and it was, well, blissful.
The Sanctuary is a very special place indeed and I consider myself lucky to have been able to experience this little hidden gem built in harmony with nature on an island that has been otherwise taken by the mainstream public’s attention for – in my book – all the wrong reasons. Come to The Sanctuary he who wishes to nourish their mind, body and soul, surrounded by likeminded people, a place suspended in time that I truly wish will never get spoiled by the menacing nearby development.
Many thanks to The Sanctuary for their hospitality. Check their website for more health and wellness holiday package options. As always, all opinions are my own.