Any health freak like me knows what a health food store feels like. There is some unexplainable vibe and a mixture of scents and earthy tones that, to most, epitomize earthy-crunchy-hippie etc. While most people might roll their eyes, I thrive on these types of places that encourage my fascination with health. I feel at home. I can’t just move to Thailand, pretend I didn’t just study for a year to get my health coach certification, and keep the plates of Pad Thai and fried bananas coming without batting an eye.
I started to realize after a month that my “vacation stage” where I eat whatever I want and justify it as “experience” would have to end in order to balance out my weekend benders filled with Hong Tong, Leo, plenty of adventure and lack of sleep. Adding yoga to my weekday routine was a massive help but my diet lacks the leafy greens and veggies, whole grains, nut butters, and superfood smoothies and green juices that I was so accustomed to on a daily basis in the States. So last week, when I walked into a store that appeared like it had potential to be health related(can’t quite articulate why) I was delighted to find my first health food store. Fresh vegetables, AVOCADOS, all sorts of organic foods and beauty products. The women running the store didn’t speak much English but I felt like I knew and understood her. Ok I sound crazy but this encounter/familiar health vibe made me so happy. I now have coconut oil, apple cider vinegar(they have Braggs brand here!) and assorted greens and veggies for salads and my nutri bullet when it gets here. After not eating much meat back home, I couldn’t go with eating chicken and rice with nori broth every morning, so I don’t mind when the Thai teachers laugh at my morning salad and tell me I’m eating rabbit food.
Mistake number 1: leaving home without the nutribullet my mom gave me as an early Christmas gift specifically for Thailand. I wanted to put on the front that I could be minimalist and pack lightly but I really screwed up in that regard. The more I pass fresh vegetable and fruit stands at the night market, the more I realize how easy it could have been to come up with some exotic Thai smoothie concoctions. The lack of kale and spinach upset me at first but there are so many vegetables I’ve discovered since: apple aubergines, morning glory, yard long beans, Chinese cabbage, the list goes on. As uninteresting raw vegetables can be in the States, here they are a nice refresher from all the spicy food. Most places you go to eat give you a complimentary plate of vegetables( most often cucumber, basil, cabbage, long beans) and nam phrik to go with your meal just like restaurants in the states do bread rolls. Nam phrik is a ubiquitous spicy chili sauce dip that varies depending on region but makes a great vegetable dip. It’s simply amazing.
Another recent discovery occurred when I went to the islands this past weekend for full moon party. Despite being touristy, or perhaps because they are touristy, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui both have a handful of yoga retreats with detox programs, spas and raw or vegan food restaurants and juice/smoothie bars. I was too busy wreaking havoc on my health until sunrise at full moon party(jumping fire ropes, dancing, drinking shroom shakes, throwing back hong tong and red bull) to check out any of the retreats but I’m definitely going back for an extended stay before the year is up. It’s all about balance.
As I write this, it’s raining out(’tis the season). I’m sitting in a comfy chair in a coffee shop that popped up next door to said health food store drinking hot tea and eating macaroons. Okay Thailand, you’re alright. I’ll stay.