While I was in Chiang Mai at the great The Living Place hostel, a flyer about a detox retreat got my attention. I’ve been curious about detoxing and fasting for a while, and I read of great experiences from people like Tiziano Terzani and Lindo Boludo.
After checking the different Chang Mai detox retreat centers, I found my place in Pai, a relaxing backpackers town 130km away from Chiang Mai.
Below is the report of my days of detoxing, fasting, shitting and laughing at Shangrila detox center in Pai, Thailand.
I check-in at the beautiful Shangrila detoxification center (that means ‘earthly paradise’) at 1pm.
The center is very basic and consists of a land property with few bungalows, on the side of the hill above Pai, where the majestic White Buddha statue is located overlooking the foggy valley.
I get accommodated in a basic bungalow with a double bed with mosquito net, and a bathroom that I’ll quickly familiarize with.
While basic, the accommodation at Shangrila was fine for me – it feels pretty rustic so if you are living a backpacker lifestyle, you’d feel right at home.
However, if you’re looking for a similar detox experience but something a little more comfortable, up-market or even luxurious, then there are a few options I run across in my research.
The ones below are close by in the north or a lot more down south on the islands, which offer a beach detox setting:
- One of the other retreats I came across whilst looking for retreats in Pai was Xhale Yoga. It isn’t strictly a detox retreat, but rather you’ll be experiencing a healthy diet and clean lifestyle through daily yoga practice to help reset your system.
- Museflower Resort in Chiang Rai offers a 3, 5 and 7 days retreats which are little more expensive but naturally you get what you pay for. Whilst Chiang Rai is somewhat off the beaten track it provides a very authentic experience which is less touristic than Pai or Chiang Mai, as its about as peaceful and quiet as you could imagine. It’s a 5-hour bus ride away from Pai or 4-hours away Chiang Mai.
- One of the places that offers simple accommodation right next to the beach is Orion Healing Center. They are based on the island of Koh Phangan and offer a fully natural, 11-day intensive juice detox retreat and have quite an interesting range of complimentary holistic practices which can be included as part of the program.
But let’s get back to the bathroom of my bungalow…
In fact, soon after An, the Thai lady running the place, explains to me how to get started with the detox: four pills of natural herbal laxative to swallow all at once, and a lot of amazing tea with thunbergia leaves and ginger.
I follow the instructions to the letter and by 4pm I’m having a violent diarrhea attack that holds me on the toilet for a while.
The story repeats every half hour, and I’m getting my digestive system emptied and ready for the fasting.
At 5pm there’s the daily “dinner”, meaning the distribution of two cups of freshly cold-pressed delicious fruit juices that will be the only element of my diet for the next five days.
At the dinner, I meet the other two guests doing a detox at the moment: Mike is at day 4 and Courtney just a day ahead of me.
There are also few people that live here in Shangrila, the paradise on earth outside of the world, but they’re not following a detox.
In between toilet visits, I’m really enjoying the wi-fi here, and I do some work from the veranda of my humble house.
By 7pm I’m pretty empty.
I feel good and after reading a bit of the “instruction manual” they gave me I’m ready to go sleeping by 11pm, one hour later than the recommended sleeping time during detox.
The alarm is at 8am but I’m awake well before that.
Outside the bungalow is the forest with the sound of its animals and insects, even if sometimes I suspect they’re not only outside.
To my surprise, I’m not hungry at all. I don’t crave breakfast nor I feel like I need food. Maybe the juice had some additive?
I start the day with a little Yoga routine and stretching as recommended, and then I go for a walk up the hill where I get lost and finally I somehow reach the White Buddha statue. It’s only me and few Thai straight dogs, that all look the same.
Back to the paradise on earth, we have our breakfast: another juice this time with passion fruit, coconut, and papaya.
I got a Chinese soup spoon that I have to use every morning to scrape my tongue from the toxins that accumulate. It seems a bit strange to keep listening about those toxins leaving my body from every possible place, but I follow again the instructions and I have the impression that I have much fewer toxins than my neighbor, as his description of the tongue-waste was pretty horrible.
I feel my legs tired for the morning walk, and the book I’m reading is not helping so at noon I take a nap, that turns out to be a very deep one-hour restorative sleep.
When I wake up, I have the “is it already morning?” feeling, but also an unusual sensation of dizziness that last just a few seconds.
What was that? Surely I’ll have to listen to my body very carefully during those days.
In the afternoon there’s again dinner at 5pm, and then I go walking with my companions around the area that is quite rural and beautiful with the sunset colors, the bamboos, the palms and a little stream used for irrigation.
I notice that my body odor is stronger than normal: again the toxins abandoning me?
In the evening I meet Chris, one of the ‘locals’ at Shangrila, and we jam on his djambé drums for a while, before I’m off to bed around 11pm.
The bed in my bungalow is fantastic. I wake up rested and again surprised to witness that I have no desire for food.
Some Yoga and stretching, then off to another walk to the White Buddha but this time I stop at the temple reading the meditation book I was given. Meditation is not guided at Shangrila but it’s recommended to complement the detox.
I feel a bit tired when walking, I have fewer energies than normal and it makes a lot of sense as I haven’t had food for the last 48 hours!
Back to Shangrila, I have the juice breakfast and I notice how everyone around me is constantly talking about food, even if nobody is apparently hungry.
I try to have a nap at noon but I’m not tired enough so I just rest in bed for a bit.
At 3pm, An arrives with the highlight of the day: my first enema! She carries a big plastic bottle full of hot coffee, but likely only a part of it if for my colon cleansing procedure.
What follows completely changes how I look at coffee.
Long story short, you’ve to take in your butt as much coffee as possible, hold it for as long as possible and then release it, possibly in the toilet.
The first thing to say is that it doesn’t hurt at all. I know it’s weird to put a hose up there, but it’s no more than that: weird.
With loaded with coffee in my intestine, I manage to have a little walk, but after few minutes I have to rush back to the bathroom but I miss the toilet of a split second causing a mess in the bathroom.
Anyway, this is the right place to experiment and I can examine better what came out: the liquid is lighter than the original black coffee color, and the solid material consists in small pieces and stripes. Interesting, uh?
I rest a bit and at 5pm our loved dinner is served: juice with dragon fruit, mango, and pineapple.
I then have a walk up to the usual Buddha temple to get some pictures at sunset but I arrive there too late and the crowd of young travelers enjoying the last light of the day getting ready to party is not what I’m looking for in those days of seclusion from the nasty, noisy and foody world outside of the paradise on earth.
Today I finished the teapot, and I’m committed to drinking more water.
I start feeling a bit hungry, and I expect to hit the bottom (the worst moment, when the body is absorbing the bad stuff, that is what’s left after some days of fasting) tomorrow.
Let’s see if I can practice meditation and detach from the past and the present.
When I wake up the hunger is gone. It seems that it’s more likely to be present in the afternoons than in the mornings.
I do feel a bit tired, but it’s probably because I went to sleep at 11pm and a live concert in Pai kept everyone awakens for a while… but was Saturday night and people are the right to party!
Instead of walking, I practice Yoga for about half hour and then I meet the comrades for the breakfast. Those juices are really good and nutrient, or at least this is what my brain is telling me.
And Mike is a real character, he could easily be a stand-up comedian! He keeps entertaining us with his wit humor and funny stories.
Back to my hut I have to go to the toilet for a number 2. And then again. Not much comes out but I’m surprised because the others are shit-less since after the laxative effect fade out, on day 1.
But today I’m not even trying to have a nap, I feel energized also by the nice atmosphere between Mike, Courtney and me. We’re getting along and laugh together.
At 3pm is time for my second enema, and when I tell An that I had to go to the toilet twice she phones up Lorenzo, her Swiss partner that unfortunately is now out of town, to check what to do.
I get the chance to speak with Lorenzo on the phone and he tells me that is a very good thing and that I have to be very happy that I’m getting rid of all the toxins, and that next time I can collect the stuff and put it to dry in the sun for further examination!
He says I’m getting rid of intestinal plaques, but don’t check online because there are videos and pictures of people shitting something like seaweed that are quite impressive… well, if you really want to know more this is the best instructional video about the mucoid plaque.
That happens if during detox you’re given bentonite clay. That’s not my case as here they give no pills or supplements in Shangrila, and I like that because everything is kept natural.
So, it’s coffee break and I’m taking in about 1 liter this time.
I feel OK, so I do some squats and I even go for an headstand Yoga position. I hold for a while then I start thinking what could happen if I loose control of my ass while I’m upside-down. Not a nice picture, uh?
I go for a walk and, same same as yesterday I have to run back to the bathroom as the pressure in my lower abdomen becomes unbearable.
This time the “result” looks more like coffee, meaning that has a darker color than yesterday. And the solid parts are smaller, it seems more like goat shit. Freudian slip, I was about to write goat cheese! 🙂
After that, usual dinner at 5pm and then a walk up the hill with Courtney, to finally reach the White Buddha on time for some pictures at sunset.
We agree that tomorrow we’ll practice Thai massage as we both did a training in Chiang Mai.
In the evening a giant gecko takes over my bungalow and left me staring at him for a half-hour. Then he disappears into my bathroom and the good Mike helps me to chase him away.
I still feel OK. I just feel slightly hungry, but it’s more like a feeling of emptiness from the stomach.
The mind, instead, is easily thinking about food, and the more time passes the more good memories are recalling: I begun with flashbacks about pad thai and kao soi, then moved to my favorite pizza in Amsterdam, and now I reached the entire Christmas lunch menus.
Another morning with energy and hunger-free that starts with a good half hour Yoga session, including Nauli practice that should help cleaning internal organs and abdomen area.
Then an excellent juice with starfruit, mango, and pineapple. The group is getting closer and we’re having fun under the leadership of crazy-Mike.
Courtney and I practice massage before the day gets too hot, and I hope to memorize all the sequence one day because I still need to have the book next to me!
Mike and I start discussing the subject “closing the door of the bungalow & split-seconds during an enema procedure”, he candidly come out with “you don’t need to close the door. Everyone knows what happens at 3 o’clock in here!” that really cracked me up!
Our conversation, initially only about food, now are degenerating into talking about our shit and how toxins are leaving our bodies from everywhere.
I guess 5 days are enough for me, staying here can be degenerative I reckon.
This is the last day, the day to start slowly coming back to food.
I have my normal breakfast and I keep drinking water till 6pm: that’s a total of 126 hours with no solid food!
At that point, I go into town with the others and Mike brings us to a fantastic place called Good Life where I’m having my first meal of my post-detoxing life: vegetables with tofu and rice, wet by an healthy kefir drink.
It’s amazing, I can taste all the different “layers” and ingredients… the carrots taste so carroty! My mouth is chowing slowly, and my stomach is filling quickly.
In fact this relatively small dinner is enough to make me feel full, even bloated.
I’m officially out of the detox procedure, but it’s not over. Lorenzo and An recommendation is to keep a light diet for at least as many days as the length of the detox – so for 5 days I should mainly eat fruits & vegetables while avoiding processed food, meat and sugar.
The morning after I scale myself: 74.1kg. That’s at least 3.5kg less than when I left Amsterdam, and surely I haven’t lost weight before this detoxing experience!
In a world where we often eat because “it’s time to” or “it’s lunch break”, following this detox thought me how little food we really need.
Our body is strong… and can be frugal, too!
The fasting was for me more interesting of the detoxing itself. Surely getting rid of toxins and toxic waste from our body is a good thing to do, but I just can’t feel the effect of that. Or maybe just not yet!
In the future, I’ll definitely try to integrate fasting in my lifestyle. Maybe a weekend a month, or one day a week.
Surely, after this detox it will take time for me to be able to drink a cup of coffee again, without having flashbacks of enemas and floating little pieces of shit.
Last but not least: a big part of making this experience great were my comrades: Courtney and Mike, it was great fun talking shit with you!
A few days later, in Chiang Rai, I decided to reflect my internal cleanness with Mike’s hairstyle.
All the picture here: