I’m going to take you through a typical day at The Sanctuary, Koh Phang An, but with a particular emphasis on the beings that I often meet along the way.
7.25: Alarm goes off and I emerge from under the mosquito net in my bungalow. Before my feet touch the rug on the floor, I quickly scan the floorboards checking that no creepies have snuck in through the little cracks between the floorboards that let in the sunlight and show the grass below.
I get showered and dressed for yoga. I open the front door and almost immediately I can hear Linguine, the black and white cat miaowing. He appears from behind the bushes and strolls up to my bungalow. As bold as brass, he jumps up the three concrete steps up to my balcony and tries to walk into my room. I stand blocking him at the doorway, shooing him and telling the Thai cat “no” in English. I turn my back and he’s inside collapsed by the steps that lead down to the bathroom. “Get out!” I say. “Let me flop here like my namesake. I won’t be a nuisance,” he replies in cat Thai (I’m a fast learner of languages).
I don’t want to catch Thai cat lurgies but I want him out before I leave for class. I wrap the rug around him and push him towards the door. He stays in his exact slumped, deadweight position as I deposit him under the hammock on my balcony. “Why are you being so mean?” he asks as I lock the door and leave for my class.
I walk up the stone steps to the Buddha Hall, passing little ponds containing lush green water plants and black fish. In the undergrowth there’s Ganesha statues and the occasional Buddha.
8am: Yogi Simon teaches the flow yoga class. We do some Ashtanga sun salutations and he likes making us sit cross-legged with our arms straight up in the air. Shoulders relaxed and away from our ears, fingers outstretched, bottom ribs tucked in. “It’s good for you,” he says in his clipped South African accent with his bronzed torso on show. I find myself wondering whether his slightly odd line tattoos have any significance… FOCUS!
9.30am: After class, shiny black millipedes scurry along the footpath obviously on important business. This morning, Julie (Austrian, Sivananda-loving, barmy, Hindi-speaking, ex-air cabin crew) and I discussed whether they’re millipedes or centipedes. She thinks they have more than 100 legs but less than 1000. We settled on selling them ‘twohundredandfiftypedes’.
Myself, Julie, Matieu (French, Bikram boy, big smile and big curly black hair, soon to be covering for Simba in the West End’s Lion King) and Aurore (French, also smiley, likes reading, LOVES yoga) sit having smoothies and discuss yoga whilst swiping at the mosquitoes who are also hungry for their first meal.
I spend time sitting in a hammock under the palms on the beach reading. I might swim out to the platform and lie gazing into the see-through sea watching the Nemo clownfish dart about below. Matieu will probably be on the hammock on the platform. He’s never off the thing. We only get out when our fingers are pruney.
I might go to a talk at the Tea Temple. Yesterday’s was on Ayurveda and the Five Elements. Maybe I’m an Earth person with a touch of Fire. Throw is some of the restaurant’s healthy baked beans and I may become that popular 70’s soul band…
I might go to the 4.15 Yin Yoga class. Spend ten minutes lying on my back in a twist resisting the overwhelming temptation to fall asleep.
6/7ish: back to room, shower. Marvel at the tiny black ants on my bathroom wall, scurrying along an invisible path. They’ll be gone later but back tomorrow. What are they up to?
Dinner with yogi pals. Matieu uses his highly honed navigational skills to get us lost searching for a restaurant over the hill. The explorers emerge from the jungle and secure a spot sitting on a platform on top of a rock with views of the stars and the bay below. We eat by lantern light.
There’s a weekly film night where people lounge in the beach bar on cushions, and last night was the open mic night. Who’d have thought that ‘Ain’t nobody’ by Chaka Khan could sound so good accompanied by didgeridoo.
Then soon to bed. Tuck mozzie net in round bed and the fun really starts. Scrabbly noises in the dark… later there’s a repetitive two-tone noise that’s high then low: a huge gecko lizard. Claire from London (yes, there’s two of us. She’s from Crouch End) says they sound like they’re saying their name: GEH koooooh…. GEH koooooh. The crickets and cicadas join in too. And I fall asleep – well, at least until the gecko starts up again.
Have you been to The Sanctuary? What are your memories? Or perhaps reading this has whet your appetite. Feel free to comment below.
Oh and TTC buddies – you may spot a familiar face on the homepage of The Sanctuary website. Watch the slideshow.