Laurel Wantuch at the Andaman Sea.
Phuket, Thailand – Last year, I decided to change what I ate, which unexpectedly led to even bigger life changes. I began a raw fruit and vegetable diet, avoiding as much processed and packaged foods as I could. Through this diet, along with undertaking hot yoga, I hoped to find the clarity to pursue the kind of life I sought for years.
And so my adventure began.
Shortly after, my boyfriend and I decided to seek a fresh start in Hawaii, where fresh fruit is abundant and the beaches are perfect for yoga. Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford to live there. So we stayed in Wisconsin and struggled with eating exclusively raw organic foods.
After almost breaking up a million times, we decided we really needed a change of pace, so we set our sights elsewhere. We traveled across the America, from Wisconsin to upstate New York, and then from Virginia to California, where we visited family and friends.
If clarity visited me once during my visits to these places it was to confirm that I’m definitely more suited to life at a tropical latitude.
But if not Hawaii, where?
My boyfriend, Brian, suggested Thailand, a country he’s long wanted to visit. While the raw food diet was new to me, so was traveling. I’ve visited Jamaica a handful of times, and once spent two weeks in Hong Kong, but these were well-planned trips where I knew people and had rides waiting for me at the airport – trips where I didn’t have to make that many decisions for myself.
Without much planning, we booked our flights and, without help from anyone, we made it quite satisfactorily to Bangkok – Thailand’s bustling capitol and home to ten million residents. To our great delight, Thailand turned out to be the fresh fruit paradise we’d been dreaming about.
From there we were off to Phuket, an island about 53 miles away. At 220-square-miles, Phuket is the largest of Thailand’s islands, and is home to about 350,000, people. It’s like 10 Manhattan islands with fewer buildings and people. Here, scores of foreigners like me come to vacation, taking in the coconut palms and sultry tropical air.
Still, Phuket feels a tad overcrowded and too developed for my tastes, but has been a great oasis for our first month abroad.
I’ve been here three weeks now. In the past 11 days I’ve eaten nothing but raw fruits and vegetables, discovered Kata Hot Yoga, and I’m even taking some Muay Thai kickboxing lessons. I am so appreciative of this opportunity to visit a place as warm and welcoming as Thailand, an intricate patchwork of modernization and simplicity.
Among the many high points so far was our visit to a place very sacred and dear to Phuket residents. Standing at the feet of a colossal 148-foot Buddha, all of my friends and family came to mind. A feeling of peace swept over me.
I love everyone and everything on this earth so much. People I’ve never met and animals I am scared of all deserved happiness. That is what Thailand has taught me so far. If every person seeks happiness, and if we can be truly blissful for even the tiniest moments, then we are bless and at home wherever we are.