It’s dark when I arrive.
They’ve sent me a taxi.
I come out of arrivals and search for my name on a placard.
Mr Lee. Atsumi Healing.
That’s the one.
The drive from the airport isn’t long, but feels long.
Because I’m exhausted.
The schedule has been non-stop, I’ve never experienced burnout before, but I’m sure this is it.
And then, like magic, my calendar opened up. No commitments for months.
So I’m here.
As we drive through the Phuket night, I gaze out the window, half-dazed.
It’s been about ten years since I was here, but things look mostly the same.
Soon enough, after we’ve crossed the island, the taxi slows down, heads through a winding alley, deep in the suburbs of Phuket, until we finally enter the gardens of Atsumi.
A young woman is there to greet me.
She has a bright smile. Like most Thais. She shows me to my room.
It’s a small cottage. Cozy, tidy. Big bathroom. Minimalist.
Exactly my style.
She wishes me goodnight, and says we’ll talk more tomorrow.
There’s a welcome letter.
They tell me to eat the salad in the fridge – it’s the last meal I’ll be having for a while.
Enjoy it, I tell myself.
Last meal for 14 days.
Then, I collapse on the bed.
Welcome to Thailand.
I wake up the next morning and head to my meeting with my supervisor, Yoki.
Yoki is a smiley young man with a calm aura. Not tall, not short, just lean, and vibrant.
He serves me a tray of kombucha and ginger tea.
I pass, politely.
I tell him – I’d like to strictly water fast, 14 days.
He looks surprised, but nods and says okay.
Then he talks me through the day’s schedule.
Yoga at 8 a.m.
A typical daily Atsumi schedule:
Why does this sound so tiring, I laugh.
But I’m excited, too.
I intermittent fast daily, and do extended fasts once or twice a year.
But 14 days is new.
I figure if I’m going longer, I might need some help.
That’s why I’m here.
And in my beaten-up state, now seems like the perfect time.
I’ve done this enough times to know what to expect – the first two days are easy. Day 3 can be tough, sometimes. Then things really start to get hard around Day 4 or 5. After that, the body goes into super fasting mode, and it’s smooth sailing.
After my meeting with Yoki, I go to yoga.
The teacher is a pretty, motherly, young French woman named Ann.
As Phuket is still quiet from Covid restrictions, Atsumi is empty.
I’m the only client, and have all the classes, and the entire resort, to myself.
What a dream.
The yoga class is done in the sala, a big open-air pagoda looking out over the lake.
We work up a big sweat and start the day invigorated.
Will probably be seeing you a lot, I tell her as we finish.
From yoga, I head straight to the colema room.
A “colema” is a type of colonic irrigation, like an enema.
You stick a small tube up your bum and it fills your colon with water, flushing out all the old waste that’s been sitting in there.
During a fast, it’s particularly effective as you’re not introducing any new food into your system, so you know everything that comes out has been up there a while.
The lady running the colema room is a darling grandmother who doesn’t speak much English, but over the next two weeks will welcome me with a warm smile each morning like I’m her own grandson.
Yoki introduces me to the colema system and gives me the play-by-play of how to use it.
Then I go to work.
It’s a solid sixty minutes of water in, water out, until I feel completely rinsed.
It’s not comfortable, but the feeling of rejuvenation afterwards is like a high.
Once I’ve had a chance to lie down and recover, Yoki drives me down to the beach.
Nai Harn Beach is a nearby small, busy beach on the southern end of Phuket.
It’s packed with Russian tourists and expats.
But, still great for a walk and some alone time.
I spend forty minutes walking up and down, feet in the water, taking in the sunshine.
Once we get back, I collapse on the bed and take a few hours for myself.
Who knew relaxing could be such hard work?
3 p.m. rolls around. Massage time!
The masseuse’s name is Daeng. She speaks almost no English, but that’s not necessary.
I lounge in one of the small open-air huts around the lake, while she gives me a foot massage and does some reflexology.
It’s the best part of my day.
As the sun starts to set, Yoki prepares the sauna.
It’s filled with herbs like lemongrass and ginger, and is like a blast of steam and aromas when I step inside.
I do fifteen minutes, then come out and drink some lemongrass water, then go in for another round.
Saunas are one of my favourite things during a fast, feeling the body cleansing through the pores. Therapeutic, and magical.
Night falls, but the day is not over.
We have one more yoga session to end the day.
Tonight’s teacher is Kate, a young Russian woman, warm and chatty. I like her.
She takes me through a tough session with many holds and long, drawn-out stretches.
It’s tough work after a day without food, but I know it will definitely make me sleep well once I finally hit the pillow.
As the week goes on, the days slowly blur together, as they usually do during a fast.
The yoga sessions get easier. Sometimes, we do meditation sessions instead, or sound therapy.
The colema sessions get more intense.
I start passing worms, many of them (I have pics, but they’re too gross to post).
I show them to Yoki, and he nods expectedly.
Very normal, he says. Tapeworm. Everybody has.
Each day I think I’ve passed all the worms I can, but each day another one comes out, bigger than the last.
Every morning I start to look forward to it, seeing what else I can evict from my body and build back stronger.
Day 4 and 5 are tough.
I find myself daydreaming of food, torturing myself by Googling all the best restaurants in Phuket that I’ll be able to try after this is over.
A battle wages in my mind every hour. I want pizza. I want fries. I want chicken.
I tell Yoki, and he laughs.
But on Day 6 things start to calm down.
I feel calmer. I take comfort in knowing I’ve been here before, and knowing it gets easier from here.
My system is completely empty. No food for 6 days, and my body has been flushed daily, until the water coming out is almost clear.
I start working again. My mind is clear, and for a few hours per day I can get on the laptop and be productive, instead of daydreaming in bed.
I tell Yoki to organise a Thai boxing class for me, instead of yoga.
It feels good, to hit the pads, release some endorphins, pump some blood through the muscles.
Day 8 arrives. I’m at peace. Day 9. Peace. I know I can keep going, as long as I need.
Finally, on Day 11, Yoki sits down with me and says, maybe I should break fast today.
I’ve lost almost six kilos, and 11 days of colemas means there is probably not much more benefit to keep going.
My daily weigh in:
I had been aiming for 14 days, but I agree with him.
Time to start rebuilding.
He says the girls will bring some fruit to my room for my first meal.
When I get back, it’s already sitting on my doorstep.
I can’t help but smile and feel like a kid of Christmas morning.
I stand in the sunshine and savour every bite.
A few hours later, they bring me a salad and a coconut.
I know I’m supposed to eat it slowly, but I wolf it down.
From Day 11 to 14, I start rebuilding my body, from a clean foundation, and a renewed spirit.
Atsumi also operates a raw food cafe in Phuket, so the meals are delivered fresh daily.
Every day they arrange something different and interesting.
I feel like I am floating in heaven.
When my two weeks is finally up, I say my goodbyes to all the staff – the colema lady, the massage lady, all the assistants, Yoki.
In a short time, they have become like a small family to me.
I tell them one day I will return again, when my body asks me to.
I walk out the gates rejuvenated, reset and refreshed, ready to take on the world again.
And … eat my way through every restaurant in Phuket!
Note: This post is not sponsored and I paid for my stay in full. You can learn more about Atsumi at their website.
Looking for a place to stay in Phuket? Check out my comprehensive guide to the island here!