I debated back and forth whether I wanted to go to Grant Campbell’s Thailand Fruit and Adventure retreats. After my spiritual experiences in India, raw vegan retreats seemed trivial. I felt I needed to spend time in Nepal in a Buddhist monastery or at a vipassana meditation retreat. I was in super serious spiritual mode. As chance would have it, my plans for both of the above fell through, and I found myself cheffing for one month’s worth of 80/10/10 raw vegan retreats in Chanthaburi, Thailand. Chanthaburi is in the southeast part of Thailand on the gulf sort of near the Cambodian border. It isn’t much of a tourist attraction, and I certainly would not have ventured that way had it not been for the retreats.
It’s a dull and dreary sort of place in the rainy season. But the fruit and durian quality is exceptional, especially during May, when I was there. Everything from accommodation to massages is super cheap too.
For one month, I made delicious dinners alongside Kristina Shatova, Irene Migeot, Laurie Ellicott, Wutipa, and a select handful of other beautiful volunteers. I had the pleasure of connecting with Alicia Ojeda, the head chef at Woodstock for many years, and got to pick her brain for inspiration in and out of the kitchen.
I forged beautiful connections and truly inspiring relationships with my fellow travelers there. The community feel was definitely a high point of the experience. Feeling understood and accepted as is right now. I also had a chance to get my body moving again. We joked that it was adventure boot camp, and in a way, that’s exactly what it was. We awoke early and practiced morning fitness, whether it be yoga, running, or a hiit workout. I taught yoga classes most mornings. After breakfast, we took taxis to temples that consistently had at least a hundred stairs, waterfall hikes, ocean swims, and jungle treks. Every night, I was exhausted in the best way possible, sneaking in a massage before or after dinner, and hitting the pillow with nothing left in the tank. The first retreat was impeccable. Absolutely perfect. Amazing group. Amazing group size. Awesome adventures and adventurers.
Then, the second retreat happened. As it turned out, I acquired a staph infection on one of the many hikes on the first retreat. Probably the one through the jungle in water where elephants live and poop. Yeah, that’s my guess. Microbe heaven!
At first, I thought the sore on my leg was a bug bite. It very well may have been. I kept my eye on it, and it kept getting bigger and bigger and grew more and more inflamed. I did research online and reasoned that the red, hot, angry wound was likely staph, which doesn’t go away on its own and can be quite serious if left untreated. I had no interest in losing my foot or leg!
An amazing Aussie lady in the group shared her concern and that was all the validation I needed to get some medical attention. I went to the hospital–which was surprisingly nice with dapper Cambodian translators and a pianist in the lobby–and begrudgingly filled prescriptions for all manner of oral and topical antibiotics. Hit up the pharmacy for gauze and tape. Then set up a nursing station in my room just like my momma taught me.
Thanks to my upbringing with two Western medical professionals I knew better than to play around with a staph infection in the tropics. So I was a good girl and stayed in, took all my meds, and cleaned and dressed my wounds. I caught a fever and water fasted until it went away. Within a couple days, I was well enough to resume my duties in the kitchen.
In fact, I amped up the cheffing quite a bit, and spent my days recipe planning and dreaming of delicious dinners to create. I did not attend any more of the adventures and activities with the group. I holed up in my room and rested during the day, and like a vampire, emerged at night for culinary magic-making.
I was kinda glad for an excuse to rest. I had been on most of the excursions the first two weeks, and the second two weeks was full of rain. The grey skies and torrential downpours reinforced my decision to rest and heal completely. I didn’t want to risk reinfection.
I healed nicely and by the end of the second retreat, I was fully ready to move on from Chanthaburi. I had reclaimed my dedication and commitment to raw, and was ready to amp up the fitness side of things after all that rest.
As synchronicity would have it, I teamed up with two fit chicas, and we hightailed it to Koh Mak. Check out my next blog for all the details of what may just be my absolute favorite travel destination…ever.