Guest Post: Laurel Discovers the Fruits of Change | The Feral Scribe



Guest Post: Laurel Discovers the Fruits of Change | The Feral Scribe

Category : Featured, Snapshots, Uncategorized / by

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.

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1Laurel Wantuch2We rented a scooter for the month for roughly $120. On our first day with the scooter we got thoroughly lost, and ended up at Khao Rang (Rang Hill), at the Phuket View Restaurant with an English chap we’d met. Khao Rang is a lovely vista point of Phuket Town and the southeastern side of the island. The excursion followed our first Muay Thai kickboxing session, so we were so thankful for that motorbike! Our new buddy – who teaches physical education in Shanghai - walked up effortlessly!3Phuket is surrounded by islands; some unnamed, others very popular for day trips and other excursions (like Kho Phi Phi and Kho Similan for snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing, etc.)4Oh, coconuts: Where do I begin? Loaded with anti-aging, anti-carcinogenic, bio-active enzymes and electrolytes that replenish our bodies better than tap water, coconut water is a gift from the heavens.5We were fortunate to stay in two different villas before renting a small apartment for the month. At Floraville and Cocoville there were coconut palms everywhere (along with very noisy roosters)! I was quite at home staring at these trees that provide so much nourishment.6A few days after settling in I still hadn’t seen, let alone swam, in the Andaman Sea. Determined to find a beach, we happened upon Promthep Cape, a popular destination for tourists, who are drawn by the picturesque islands and dazzling sunsets against a sky that seems to go on forever. I was quite encouraged to see a large wind turbine here, too!7From Promthep Cape the view of the Andaman Sea is almost surreal. Although it took some exploring, I finally found a stretch of beach after sunset. One quick swim was definitely a tease, yet wonderfully refreshing. Then we continued to be lost trying to find our sleepy way home.8In Phuket, bananas seem to grow everywhere - from roadsides in the cities to just about everywhere else. It has taken me all month to try the many varieties and to learn which type I prefer. Brian likes the meaty starchier “fatty” ones that have seeds in them, whereas I love the slender mini- version of the Cavendish that is so sweet and perfect.9This is really the reason we came to Thailand - for fresh durian, which one can only find frozen in Wisconsin! Heralded as the “King of Fruit,” durian is one of the healthiest fruits on the planet. Though it’s scent has been compared to that of rotting garbage, its health benefits could fill volumes. Among the fattiest fruits, durian is an entire cholesterol-free meal. It is also loaded with vitamins and minerals, including tryptophan, which has inspired some peaceful naps.10After recuperating from our Muay Thai kickboxing sessions, we hiked some spectacularly steep hills to find this Big Buddha gracing the skyline. Sitting more than 1,300-feet above sea level, it is visible throughout southern Phuket. Along the way we encountered snakes, bright red dragonflies, a cattle egret on top of another water buffalo, and this guy who was luckily tied-up along the road.11There is fruit everywhere! I’ve been savoring all of the sweet, aromatic flavors grown right here in Thailand. Pictured here are rambutan, longans, apples, dragon fruit, mangoes, mangosteen, tamarind, papaya, starfruit, oranges, tangerines, May apples, jackfruit packaged, watermelon, pomelos, and pineapples! Can life get any better?12The Big Buddha is dressed in Burmese marble, which shines in the light like a beacon of hope. Though I was relieved to reach the top, the journey was the best part. Walking the entire way, we saw many indigenous creatures, including tied-up elephants, which made me sad. We found fresh  bananas that had fallen to the road, and the views all the way up were breathtaking.13The purported story of the Big Buddha on Phuket is that a group of friends decided to mark this incredible overlook (of both sides of the island) with a Buddhist monument that, after 10 years, is still technically unfinished. But for a monument whose construction was funded through donations, it looked remarkable to me.14Our room came with many wonderful features, including a sink, a counter on the balcony, and a glorious view of the Big Buddha. Predictably, we got lost trying to hike up to the Big Buddha, but thankfully I’m becoming oriented to being disoriented. Eventually, I’ll find my way!

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