Azmat Alibhai recounts the tale of her therapeutic Bangkok trip to Sana Zehra
To those of you unfamiliar with Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat, Pray, Love, it’s the memoir of a woman in her early thirties left broken after a terrible divorce. She decided to spend a year around the world: four months in Italy, where she would rediscover pleasure (EAT); four months in India, where she would meditate in an ashram (PRAY); and four months in Bali, where she would learn how to fuse the two (LOVE).
And without giving too much away, she rebuilt her soul in a beautiful way and I was hoping to achieve the same. Thankfully, I am not going through a divorce but the last two years have been trying for me health wise nonetheless. So I decided to take a short trip to Bangkok to heal and recharge.
No matter what you seek as your therapy, you will be able to find it in Bangkok. It’s a fantastic city, filled with great beauty and delicious food and perfect weather and incredibly kind, smiling people. Bangkok is a perfect place to heal your soul.
I checked into the COMO —Metropolitan and, although I was skeptical judging from the location, I decided to listen to my inner voice and I was ecstatic. As I jumped into the cab, and on the way to the Met, I passed by the central business district. The cab took a left turn into a beautiful tree lined street. As I approached the hotel, I felt a sense of calm. I hopped out of the cab and entered the hotel lobby – There was an underlining Zen kind of vibe. This translated in the staff’s demeanor, the architecture and interior design of the property right up to the basics in the room. High style is the part of the hotel’s DNA but it’s the small actions that make a big difference. You know its right when you get a feeling of “home.”
It is very rare for me to travel to anyplace without engaging in a learning experience and Bangkok was no exception.
If you’re looking to learn a new skill, Bangkok offers the opportunity to learn everything from cooking to massage to yoga. In my 5 days in Bangkok, I attended a cooking class and a restorative yoga workshop.
Healing through food:
With a street cart on every corner, you’re in the right place. I was lucky to meet Chef Prim Polson in his kitchen at Nahm restaurant, which has been rated repeatedly as one of Asia’s top restaurants. Just last year, Nahm was voted number one in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants List sponsored by San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna. Chef Polsuk exudes confidence, and rightly so. I was told by my local friend that Thai and overseas visitors are known to book a table a month in advance to secure a table. What I found special about him is his passion for creating. He explained that Nahm is influenced by the street food of Bangkok and by centuries old cookbooks belonging to private Thai households. His culinary style combines big, bold flavours with meticulous attention to detail, fresh local produce and traditional cooking methods, maintaining traditional Thai recipes and ingredients. Even the fish sauce is made from scratch. Chef Polsuk prepared a tasting menu of Scallops with Pomelo, Lemongrass and Lime, Aromatic Crab Curry and Stir Fried Morning Glory, just a few dishes from the vast feast he prepared.
Healing through Yoga: I have had the good fortune to meet and learn from fantastic teachers from all over the world, and Yogi Jutharat was no exception. She took me through a restorative flow. I was amazed with her yoga knowledge. There was much to learn from her and I was excited to take it all in.
Healing through nature: I walked down to Lumpini Park, which was a 10 minute walk from the hotel. Upon entering the park, the hustle and bustle was left behind. There was an open air gym with regular exercise machines. It was a serene walk and I felt one with nature. There was a step class with 80s music to set the mood of the class. Although I didn’t take the class, I could feel the endorphins release creating the feel good mood after a workout. I was told gym teachers volunteer their time teaching at the park. There is something magical about healing through volunteering — working for the good of people or for the less fortunate than you is a surefire way to put things into perspective.
Healing through partying: Should you fancy live music whilst grabbing a bite or if you want to blow off steam with buckets, parties, and nights out with friends, I suggest you make your way to the lively party streets. The unbeatable energy, happy people comfortable in their skin just looking to escape and have a good time. Tons of bars, clubs, roof top bars where DJs spinning and mixing music or just people loitering on the street listening to the music. Maybe have a foot massage or browse through the souvenir shops. That high energy vibration was apparent all over.
Healing through spirituality: Bangkok is a great place to delve into Buddhism, meditation or general spirituality. There are all kinds of meditation retreats in Bangkok, including silent retreats. What I found incredible is that there is a temple to be found on every street. Amidst the incredibly busy streets of Bangkok, the Thai people actually practice the “Pause.”
As I bid farewell to Bangkok with a feeling of melancholy, I remembered a person who once said to me, “Make friends with reality.” With those wise words in mind, I let go. I surrendered. It was time to say good bye.
Lakorn (Goodbye) Bangkok.