Downsides of a Detox Retreat - Koh Phangan, Thailand

I awake to the sound of the woman in the room next to me trumpeting her nose like an elephant. Then gagging. Then spitting. And repeat. Shortly after this virtuoso solo performance she is joined in by the sound of a man wretching like he's been possessed by the Anti Christ. This my friends, would be the downside of a detox retreat. Never mind its time for breakfast anyway... 

The shaded restaurant has chilled out Buddhist chanting playing and overlooks the flat silver line of the sea. I do a double take at a very pretty girl sitting near me. She has wavy brown hair, huge eyes and a nose that wrinkles when she laughs. Jo is an actress/model and a writer and we get chatting. She invites me to the beach and I think well why not, I don't have any other plans. 

Jo has just leart to ride a motorbike – and so off we trundle overtaken by grannys, small children and animals. I don't mind – and women drivers are supposed to be safer than men...aren't they? 

After navigating a particularly perilous steep hill and just coming away with a relocated pelvis and mild whip lash i'm not so sure – but i've discover she's only just learnt how to ride – and it really is the only way to get around the island. 

We arrive and wade out into the sea... 

“hows your first day in Thailand hun?” asks Jo. 

Well pretty bloody good. Thailand is much more commercial than its surrounding Asian neighbours but as a result – more civilised too. Plus I'd forgotten in planning full moon parties and yoga just how damn pretty the beaches are here. The sea is a transparent turquoise and the sands are white and the palm trees are blowing, welcome to my life in paradise for the next few months I think to myself. 

Unfortunatley the heavens decide to open so we go for shelter in one of the restaurant huts. Jo has hooked up with Greg, a stoned San Franciscan with intense blue eyes. We join his friends - 

Lindsey a whiney voiced Jewish Princess, Talon a softly spoken Canadian and Chazzy who is holding court. Chazzy, a shaven headed Indian in white rimmed ray bans – introduces himself in a New York drawl but apparently he's from Crawley outside of London. He now works as a Fashion Photographer and flits between the two cities. 

“I mean like one year for my birthday, my friends were like – man we are going to get you so fucked up we are dropping you off at the hospital on our way home.. and they did ! They got me so drunk they had to leave me at the hospital...” 

“Oh and get this..Another time they set up a bbq and they bought m a copy of MeinKampf and they got me to burn it and then piss on it, piss on a copy of Meincampf!” 

“is that uuuh like... Hitler's book?” asks Linsey. 

I'm beginning to think that a 5 am arrival and 2 days of travelling haven't quite prepared me and my world for Chazzy just yet. 

We head on back towards Ananda and stop off at Happy Beach where Chazzy takes great delight in introducing us to “The Hut “ an abandoned beach hut strung with a distressed mirror ball and unused bar. 

This evening Jo and I had planned to go to a waterfall party but I don't think either of us feel up to it. Tomorrow she is leaving to spend Christmas and New Year on Phuket with her friends Sham and Gary. They both join us as they are taking a break from the silent retreat that they are on. 

Sham is an Asian londoner with huge infectious grin and another motor mouth... 

“oh wow you've been everywere tell me all about your travels where did you start??” he says. 

Apparently the silent retreat is not always that silent! 

That evening and Chazzy is orchestrating a bonfire at Happy Beach. People are scattered around drinking bottles of wine and lounging on rugs and in deck chairs. I've already bumped into a friend of the lovely Naz – ( a marketing manager turned yoga teacher I met in Guatemala who recommended the yoga school to me.) 

A dark skinned Turkish guy called Erol comes over to introduce himself. I think he's absolutely bonkers, a raging extrovert with bald head, gleaming eyes as bright as a bead and a propensity for getting up and doing some kind of mad tribal dance around the fire. But I kind of like him. 

We all sit in relative companionable silence listening to the sound of the sea,watching the flames and a lone lantern float up into the sky. Tomorrow is Christmas day. I didn't have many expectations of how i'd spend Christmas eve – but i'm glad to have found some sort of family to share it with.