Thai getaway

Mid last month, Fiona, Brenda and myself went for a much needed vacay in North Thailand – to Chiang Mai and Pai. We were mainly there to get rejuvenated at a retreat in Pai, which involved mediation, yoga, and healing therapies.

Fiona and Brenda went up first, and I joined them a couple days later… because I was on chicken watch. My brother was on his honeymoon, and he has this moral rule (unfounded paranoia) that we shouldn’t be out of the country at the same time, because someone must care for the chickens. So I roped Eve in to help out my Mom. Dad was away too, playing a world chess championship for people over 60 in Croatia.

On my first day in Chiang Mai, we went to see my friend, Paul Yeoh, who is now based there with his fiance, and helps out with her eatery, Cafe Compassion. They serve vegetarian, vegan, and raw food cuisine… and they have Green Drinks.

Among us, we had raw Phad Thais, a roasted vegetable sandwich, raw key lime pie, banana bread with butterscotch, and a chocolate brownie. Very yummy.

In Chiang Mai, we travelled in songtaews or walked about. We had some time before departing to Pai, so we walked about and found iBerry. We weren’t really sure what it was but we were surprised when we got there.

We grabbed our bags and got on a minibus that departs hourly to Pai. It was a total of around three and a half hours North, with a drink/toilet pit stop midway. It doesn’t really look like Thailand, as you can see below. Brenda was feeling so ill from the bus circling the mountain, and Fiona had the munchies. I shared the backseat with a broad-built man, and so it wasn’t the most comfortable ride… especially with all the singing by the group of rowdy men on board. Brenda shushed them at one point.

Frank Vilaasa received us when we got to Pai. He was a wonderful host throughout, and especially that evening, when he made sure that we were fed, and bought all the fruits and food we needed for the duration of our stay. When we were done getting our groceries, we found a lady is doing hanging over the edge of the above pictured plastic bin, breaking ice with a pick. During our walkabout, we ran into some of the dancers from a street festival in the city centre.

Pai is quite a bohemian town, with a Rastafarian culture. It’s not unusual to see local men with dreadlocks and Jamaican flags around town. I even saw a road sign that said “Rasta”. Pai is near the Myanmar border, and attracts local students, and foreigners fond of its laidback vibe (some people call them hippies).

Once we got to Frank and Sentha’s retreat, we didn’t leave to head back to the town till three days later, on the day we left back to Chiang Mai. We didn’t need to because the space was amazing, and okay, we didn’t have much time either. The timetable was quite intensive (more so for Frank and Sentha), where we had four meditations a day, a tantric yoga session, and a healing session.

Although it was intensive over two and a half days, it was just what I needed – structure and discipline. We all went to bed by 11am, and woke up at 7am. I took afternoon naps too, because my healing sessions were after dinner on both evenings, also, I was nursing a horrific sleep debt.

Alright, two and a half days were definitely too short, and us three said we’d be back every year for at least a week. While it was short, I felt so rejuvenated from the activities, healthy food, mountain water, fresh air, and good helpings of sleep. It started me on a new routine of meditation in the morning and at night. I also had a new found love of yoga, even though I threw up and had diarrhea immediately after as a result of the session on the first day. Sentha explained yoga to us, and we realised what a spiritual experience it is, but more of Hatha and Vinyasa – not Bikram.

If you’d like to try out this retreat, see their website for more information. Here we are with them.

We’ll be back soon! x


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