I have arrived on the island of Koh Phangan in southern Thailand for the opposite reason that most people come. No full moon party for me, I’ve come to cleanse my body and fast on a detox programme.
I have wanted to do this for over a year but wasn’t able to find the time until now. I feel it’s the perfect time to purge myself of the old and prepare for the new. So I’ve decided to share my daily journal just in case anyone is considering to do the same. I’ll share this journey with you which is certain to be challenging, but hopefully rewarding.
My objective is to rethink my food and consider greater things like a more vegan-based diet and full consciousness of everything I put into my body. I’m also simply hoping to get some time out and focus on some upcoming things in life and shifting into a better state.
Day 1 (“pre-cleansing”)
I came from Koh Samui after a short ferry ride. Arriving at the detox resort was a relief. I’ve felt really exhausted lately travelling all over the place and I’ve been dreaming of unpacking my suitcase for a while.
It was nice to settle into my bungalow. Everyone thinks it quite hot here but compared to Cambodia, it’s a breeze, literally. No traditional welcome cocktail here. I settled in with my liver flush drink (3 lemons, 2 oranges, a knob of ginger, five garlic cloves, and two tablespoons of olive oil) and laid down on my right side as suggested. The first two days are pre-cleansing – meaning that I’ll be on a raw vegan diet before I begin to fast. I had a bowl of fruit that somehow tasted better than any fruit I’ve had before. Is this the tease before the fast? In the evening I had an incredible sprouting salad with mango and kaffir lime dressing. I’m on a juicing cleanse so I don’t starve myself as much as more traditionalists. I’ll have four juices a day. The juices are wonderful. The variety is endless and each one has a unique and strong taste. After a coconut and another liver flush, I have called it a night and am giving into my general state of exhaustion.
Day 2 (pre-cleansing)
Today I joined the most intense yoga class of my life. Head stands, balancing the body on one arm, double twists… I really fell apart. Luckily I could eat some amazing food to compensate for my sense of failure. I really had absolutely no energy which kind of scares me because I thought that I will lose more energy once I begin fasting. I think I’m just suffering from exhaustion and an intense few months of work and change.
I had the one of the worst headaches I’ve had in a long time. At night I couldn’t sleep, the throbbing was horrendous. I’ve sort of given up and took a couple paracetamols. So much for not putting toxins inside me. But relief has set in and I’m in a more bearable state.
The last supper for me was an incredible papaya salad. It was so full of flavour. These last two days as a vegan have been completely satisfying. Yes, I can certainly imagine veganism if I had the right cooks around!
Day 3 (start of fast)
I woke up from a bad sleep but surprisingly didn’t feel so tired. My headache was gone and I appreciated opening my eyes without the pain. I drank my first clay and husk detox drink. One of the five I would endure throughout the day. Went to the detox yoga class which is a much more milder version that I went to yesterday – focused on a few poses and some very deep breathing. Followed by a coconut and a group debrief session, I had a chance to hear from some others already in the cleaning process. In the afternoon I had an amazing massage. The Thai masseuse focused on my neck and shoulders where my headache was coming from. I fell complete asleep in her arms and apparently snored quite a bit, which surprised me since I rarely sleep during massage, let alone a beach massage with people around. I felt really re-energised which is what I needed for my next activity – my first colema, a laying down colon hydrotherapy session. It’s not easy the first time to get ten litres of water inside of you, and not through the mouth!
Colon cleaning has been around for centuries. The Egyptians and the Greeks were onto it in order to rid the body of rotting matter in the intestines. It was popular in the mainstream medical community in the 19th century but slowly lost its standings. These days alternative medicine often promotes it as a therapy to improve overall health.
This morning I woke up to the joy of a dear friend in Canada texting me to start my schedule. 7:00am detox drink – a mix of bentonite clay and psyllium husk that doesn’t gone down very well, particularly as the first drink of the day. Luckily I didn’t have to forgo a morning coffee altogether in cleanse period. My morning colema was with coffee which is hailed as a stimulant, fat emulsifier, bile excreter, and general liver detoxifier. I was surprised to find that the effect of coffee isn’t just limited to having it the traditional way. I finished with an uncanny feeling of having my morning cup.
After some mysterious and unwritable time in my washroom, I headed to morning yoga. And then the rain began. Glorious and powerful tropical rain that I haven’t seen in so long. It was the island’s first rainfall of the year and quite significantly on the day of the infamous Water Festival where children and adults of all ages line the streets trying to soak you with water guns and buckets. They might have been disappointed that everyone was already soaked, but Mother Nature took control today.
The rain really cooled things down and I felt an almost sweeping effect of cleanliness outside of me that I’ve come to feel as well on the inside.
And the rain continued. It was nice to spend the day with people focused on the schedule. It is amazing how a yoga class can become an absolute obsession over food. I must have had ten different meals in my head. I thought of sushi, curry, pizza, noodles, soup, and even burgers. During meditation trying to let the thoughts come and go is like a literal flow of food images. I’m so hungry. The detox drink doesn’t cut it. I want to chew.
But luckily by the early evening a vegetable soup broth is awaiting us with a strong herbal tea. The broth has become most of our lifelines to sanity, almost like a pretend meal that we all look forward to. And we treat it like a proper dinner. I think we often bond as a group at the dinner table. Talking about unimaginable things that you’d rarely share with people close to you. Here we can discuss all the details of the inside body that would make non-faster queasy.
Today was a mysterious experience that brought me into the new age and yogi world with an open heart and open mind. I had a reiki session in the afternoon, again under the pouring rain. I laid down to the calming voice of the practitioner. She placed her hands on different spots to work with different chakras and get me to an optimal state. I felt that each time she shifted energy, I had different strong and vivid thoughts or memories.
She told me my past life was connected to my ancestors in an aboriginal tribe. I was a popular member in my community for singing. I got an arrow in my throat during batter but survived. I couldn’t, however, ever sing or speak again. Part of my life now is continuing to search for my voice.
I left the session feeling calm and enlightened. Whatever this means, I have certainly come into things with a more open heart and open mind than usual. I feel good.
Last night was a bit dreadful. I couldn’t stop Googling images of food. I had the midnight munchies and my bottle of water really wasn’t cutting it. I craved sushi, the usual intense desire I find myself fantasising about. But one thing I’ve noticed is how I crave such a range of food that usually ends off in something very healthy. Like after craving pizza, sushi, burgers, and sweets – I start to crave that sprout salad I had at the beginning.
Today I felt terribly negative. It is the first time during this programme I have had such feelings. I felt negative about all the external things that I seem unable to control. Everything seemed so bleak after spending much of the night unable to fall asleep feeling unnerved and disappointed about small things outside my detox world.
Luckily some serious yoga got me feeling a bit better. And by the end of the day the sunset fixed up any lingering thoughts I was having. Hunger is intense. Emotions seem to be amplified. There is also a heightened awareness of oneself when not putting anything in the body. But I think it’s important to have that awareness and to look inward – something we often don’t have a chance to do when we aren’t in schedules full of yoga, meditation, and some starvation.
I have realised that I may actually miss my colemas. Colemas are a type of enema but using a board and putting much more water into yourself. It’s not a pretty sight but there is no doubt you feel lighter and amazingly empty after a colonic cleaning. It’s a slow, sometimes slightly uncomfortable, ritual. I use coffee in the mornings and switch between garlic or apple vinegar in the evenings. Basically you put 10 litres of water inside your colon (about 2.5 litres at a time), massage your intestines, and make a bowel movement that you won’t get a description about in this blog. Apart from the physical aspect, one of the major revelations that colemas have done for me is to give me an acute awareness of what I put into my body. I think everyone is curious.
It is incredible how the very object of that curiosity became an absolutely normal conversation among fellow detoxers. We talk in detail about our movements without any hesitation, even around the dinner table at broth time. We swap stories, share knowledge, and give our own ideas about what might be happening inside us. It’s quite funny and we all wonder how we will be able to stop ourselves from having these conversations post detox!
And then he ate. It was almost an epiphany! I went to the restaurant to order the fast breaking dish of papaya and bee pollen. It was a glorious experience that I intensely savoured. Strangely, it was quite awkward to use my jaw to chew. It almost felt like it didn’t know how to work. But slowly I chewed pieces of papaya and filled my mouth with that flavour which almost seemed new, but familiar.
I have been thinking about how many tastes exist for us. It’s actually quite amazing. If I say wasabi, you can quickly conjure up in your mind the potent taste that hits you hard when you take a little too much. If I say lemongrass, you know that unique flavour that lingers in your mouth if you are having a dish with it included. If I say cumin, you know that strong fresh sensation that hits your mouth when you have some in a curry or mixed with yogurt. Think about how many tastes exist. Over the last week I’ve deeply thought about so many of them. Recognising their uniqueness and craving many. I don’t think I can eat again in the same way.
I have also felt so free without a schedule. I spent the day doing what I wanted to. A real holiday feeling finally. A day at the beach with friends was the real treat after being so focused on the wild schedule of the fast. We swam in the sea and enjoyed the water and sand like I haven’t been able to until now.
What an evening. It was truly a night out in detox style. My group of relatively newly found detox companions and wonderful friends had a good-bye dinner for me at a vegetarian restaurant of course. As we sat around the table, I couldn’t help but look around and see each one of them and recall the experience we had together over the last week and half. Without knowing these people before arriving, I now sincerely feel a strong kinship with all of them. Even some current detoxers arrived and suffered through the meal with only a coconut.
What a group we’ve been. All coming from different places, arriving with different reasons. Everybody has a reason for doing a detox or a health programme. Often it’s far more than just physical health. We’ve all shared our stories and our lives with each other and I’ve shocked myself with how much I’ve been able to reveal to people who were unknown to me two weeks ago. We went through something together that we understand collectively and we supported each other through many different aspects of it.
The detox has been about the people as much as it has been about any plan I had to rid my body of toxins or to refresh myself from my usual vices. I have learnt from my fellow fasting fairies in this magical island on top of crystals. We have hopped around new age healing, put our bodies to the limit, and exposed all of our strengths and weaknesses to each other. I will miss them so much but I move on knowing that these new friendships are huge additions to my life and my next journey onward.
I simply feel amazing. The last 12 days have been life changing. I have tested my body and come out better for it. I’ve gone through struggles but have overcome them. Life is so much about food and what we put into our bodies.
I lost 6kg since I arrived. That wasn’t really the goal but it’s interesting to know where those kilos went. Is it water? Is it an empty colon? Is it simple weight loss from giving my body a break?
My skin has gone from worn out and bumpy to refreshed and smooth. I’m not exaggerating. When I checked in I was certainly very exhausted and in a tired state. I am sure different factors contributed to the skin but I credit the juices since I saw the remarkable chance after three days.
I feel happy and grounded. I can’t say this was a deeply reflective time for me. I spent a lot of time trying to stay on schedule and to focus on what I was doing. But along with it, I leave with a deeper sense of purpose and a better understanding of myself. I’m ready to move forward.