My Adventures in Bhutan

Bhutan – which translates as “the Land of the Thunder Dragon”- is a small landlocked country, hidden in the eastern side of Himalayas between the sprawling enfold of China and India. The country’s single international airport is located in the hilly side of Paro valley. Most of the connections to Bhutan are via Bangkok and Delhi with limited access from northern side from India.

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Thimphu, the capital city, although in its growth stages, is growing rapidly. Even with a new domestic airport in the south, we mostly journeyed alongside single-lane roads which warped round valleys or plummeted down mountainsides.

Our team toured the Taktsang monastery – also called Tiger’s Nest- Bhutan’s main tourist attraction. The temple -dates back to the 15th century- is an out of this world accomplishment of engineering, white-walls and red-roof on top of an obdurate visage of stone, thrusting 1,000m into the sky. The temple has an easier access rebuilt and has greatly helped potential pilgrims.

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In addition to efforts of maintaining sustainable development and preserving Bhutan’s natural environment, cultural principles are upheld. Tourist numbers to Bhutan are dwindling due to the difficult access, and a “high-end” tourism policy supported by the Bhutanese Tourism Council. A seasonal daily tariff of between $200-250 is to be paid by each tourist.

Overlooking the paddy Paro-basin fields is the Uma Paro- an International Hotel and Resort, where we were staying. Using conventional Bhutanese plan and a set round courtyard, the central building houses the rooms. A lustrous spa area and a serene indoor pool are to be found in the basement.

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Dining in the Bukhari restaurant was the best part for me. The restaurant design extends from the belly of the central building and the plan encompasses a focus-point stone fireplace, amid a view from each table. Nonetheless, if you opt for some privacy, eight spacious one-bed roomed villas are available. The villas expand up the hill following the central building; room-service is offered and each has a spa room of its own.

“Tour of the Dragon” race , which was held here from 2010 to 2011 was aimed at promoting mountain biking. The race-course mapped out the mountainous path between Bumthang to the east and Thimphu, covering a distance of over 267km. I later came to learn that December is the most ideal time for this sport since there are no monsoon rains and the air is cooler.

Paro is the single-most heavily visited Bhutan city, and it is bordered by tactfully hidden luxury resorts, and yet it’s hardly bigger than a village in the Alps. We ventured the magnificent river-bank Rinpung Dzong castle, voyaging on its pretty suspension bridge, taking regular stops to savor the spectacular view down below of the cascading, jade-colored river.

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We finally arrived at the grand courtyards of Punakha Dzong, the temple at the confluence of two great rivers where the king had fêted his marriage. From here we could observe the Upper Valley, families doing their daily errands and above, the majestic Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten was glowing, as it towered above the Bhutan country.

Curious about my trip in Bhutan? Want to explore Bhutan? Why not askus@ladyredot.com?


Kally Hi, I’m Kally. A Singaporean who has been relocated twice, first to Shanghai, now based in Kuala Lumpur. I have always been the avid traveller since young. I had my passport made even before I went to primary school! I travel extensively during my free time, either on tour groups or backpacking around Europe and all within the recent years. I am exposed to many different cultures and places, which allow me, to have the ability to look at many things and situation from various angles. Having gained 20 years of corporate world, I decided it is time for me to hang up my briefcase and heels to indulge my passion: Writing and Traveling. The two passions that give me pure enjoyment and liberation. As much as I enjoy traveling and writing, I strive on assisting people in making their lives easier. This is evidently shown in MiddleMe.net where I am the founder and editor. Allow me @ kally@ladyredot.com to help you to pen down your next trip abroad!

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What do you need to be prepared for an Oversea Marathon?

In 2016, Ladyredot wrote an article about 2016 Hottest International Marathon  and this year I took part in Taipei Standard Chartered Marathon 2017. It wasn’t a half or full but quarter marathon (10KM) in Taipei City. The starting point is at The Presidential Office Building and end at Dajia River Park.

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I started my preparation 2 months before the actual day. I trained myself at a steady speed of 8min/KM. Knowing your body well is vital even though this is not the best optimal speed. To those who are keen to participate in an overseas run, train well and hard!

Packing the right running clothes 

I have done a pre-checked of the weather forecast and it was very cold in February. I have consulted some friends who are experienced running in such temperature on what to prepare. Many of them advised me, I do not need to worry as when I run, my body will get warm up. This is not true! The wind is so chilly and temperature is at 12 degree. Luckily, I wore a Uniqlo Heat Tech Extra Warm underneath the running top with a Windbreaker Jacket. Of course, long running tights is essential rather than running shorts.

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The Right Food 

I reach Taipei 3 days before the marathon. Taipei is a food heaven that no one could possibly disagree. I went to Rou He Night Market, Jiu Fen Old Street and Xi Men Ding.

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I tried to control myself from having Mala Steamboat (Spicy Hot Pot) so as to not cause any stomach discomfort during the entire trip (especially before the run). Some of my personal recommendations:

  1. Yong He Soya Bean, No. 102, Section 2, Fuxing South Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106 – Legendary local Taiwan Breakfast (must tried the warm soya bean milk and egg pancake)
  2. Ya Rou Bian (Duck Noodle), No. 98之2號, Section 1, Zhonghua Rd, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108 – I preferred to have this for breakfast. It warms my tummy in the cold weather. The soup is clear and tasty.
  3. Addiction Aquatic Development, No. 18, Alley 2, Lane 410, Minzu E Rd, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 104 – I am a Japanese Food Fan, hence coming here is like going to Tsukiji Fish Market. You can get fresh sashimi, sushi, uni (my favourite!) and grilled Japanese food. Before I forget, grab a bottle of sake. It goes perfectly well.

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The run is on Sunday, 12th. I brought 3 in 1 Instant Milo and Cereal Bar from Singapore for an early morning breakfast at 4am. It gives me the energy needed as the marathon is starting at 6.30am. Having the right food, gives you the confidence to complete the run.

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Having the Right Mind and Attitude 

This is my first 10KM Marathon. To many, it might seem easy. To some, it might be challenging. I joined with an open and positive mindset. Running an oversea marathon is one of the tasks I want to achieve in my Achievement List (similar to my Skydiving experience in November 2016 – Pg. 77).

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Get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. You will discover the power of self-motivation and determination once you set your mind to it. Now, I am a proud 10KM Finisher!

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Do you have a bucket list to complete like Irene? If yes, talk to us now at askus@ladyredot.com to explore how we can help you to strike off that list!


IreneHi, I’m Irene. Born as a Sagittarius and living in the South of Singapore, I have been working in the Information Technology as a Business Product Manager for 8 years. Enjoying my scope that allows the challenge of learning new things every day as my role demands frequent business travels all over the globe. I have an adventurous bold soul that nothing can tie me down. When I am not sweating it out, I can be found chilling at a corner of any café, bury my head in a Sales Strategy or a Poem book, whatever my mood takes me. Besides being a yoga and gym enthusiast, my passion for traveling and planning travel itineraries show through friends who encourage me to share my travel experiences with others. Reach out to me @ irene@ladyredot.com for amazing impromptu ideas for your next trip abroad!

Prepping yourself for Songkran Festival in Thailand

Songkran is the mark for the Thai New Year’s festival. The Thai New Year’s Day falls on 13 April every year, but the holiday period includes 14-15 April as well. The word “Songkran” comes from the Sanskrit word as “astrological passage”, meaning transformation and change. Splashing water is the symbol of purification and the washing away of one’s sins and bad luck. The festival itself is far from the actual meaning and spiritual ritual but has gone beyond as a commercial and tourist agenda. Be ready to get wet in Thai style! Here are some tips you need to prepare if you want to go to the festival.

1. Plan Well
The first thing that you need to do is plan your itinerary, whether you aim to attend the longest celebration of Songkran festival or you are seeking for the wildest water fight. If you choose the first one, Chiang Mai in Northern of Thailand might be the place to go since the events are longer and it has already started since one week before. If you prefer the wild one, go to Silom, which recognised as Bangkok financial and party district. Immerse yourself with the glamorous Thailand nightlife with world class DJ during Songkran and an unlimited amount of liquors.

2. Protect your Goods
Keep in mind that Songkran Festival involves water a lot as a part of the celebration. Make sure you have your own personal gadgets protected with waterproof casing because everybody is going to be wet. It is not advisable to use a sling bag, instead use fanny packs that are easy to attach around your waist and don’t bring unnecessary things if you feel that you don’t need it.

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3. Be Cautious
Pickpockets tend to do their actions during Songkran Festival since it is always filled with lots of tourists and people. If you are a tourist, consider for leaving your passport in the hotel room and bring a small amount of money, to avoid any threats from the criminals. Moreover, don’t use taxi or bus, it is better to use train due to the hectic traffic during Songkran festival.

4. Book Earlier
As a Thailand’s national event, booking a hotel during D-day must be a real nightmare since most of the hotels were fully booked during Songkran Festival. Therefore, book your hotel in advance is important if you want to party in the popular district in Thailand like the capital city of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and others.

During the festival, you better prepare a rubber sandal because the street can be very slippery and dangerous. Don’t even think to barefooted during Songkran because sometimes you may find broken pieces of beer bottles.

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5. Have Fun
Lastly, prepare your gear including water gun and waterproof casing on the day of the event. The water fight starts in 2nd and 3rd day, at that time you can bargain until the prices can go really cheap. After the festival, you can go shopping in the biggest shopping capital in Asia, with local and international brands.

The last thing that must be remembered is to pay your respect. Visit a temple to show your respect, after all this is a religious festival. Have a great time playing around during Songkran’s Festival!


dsc_4705-jpgHello, I’m Jenica from Indonesia.  As a law student in progress, studying law can sometimes become really boring.  That’s why I always like to wander around and exploring new, unusual places to relieve some tension.  I also like to capture my experience through lenses and especially from writing, because it helps me to create memories that will last forever, yet it can also enjoy by a lot of people.  Meanwhile, if I don’t have time to travel, you can find me easily at the markets while trying delicious street foods from various local food stalls.  Nasi goreng, rendang, and martabak are my all time favourite that will never be replaced with anything. For me, diet always starts tomorrow so  let’s enjoy the life to the fullest!  If you want to know more about me, drop me an email now.

A Glimpse of Portugal’s Azores Islands

The Pacific has Hawaii and the Atlantic the Azores. The Azores are a cluster of 9 volcanic islands located in near the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The territory is under Portugal flag, but they are mostly autonomously governed. These paradise islands to some have been called heaven on earth- lush vegetation, stunning mountains, stunning marine life, golden beaches, and not overpopulated. One of the islands- Santa Maria- is inhabited by a mere 5,500 people. Many of Azores island names relate to nature: Pico for mountain island and Flores for flower island. The major sources of income derive from agriculture, dairy farming, ranching, fishing, and tourism. They are also known for their renounced whale watching, rock climbing, and diving.

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Whale Watching
In the past, this cetacean safe heaven contributes much of its economy from whale hunting. Now the area and marine life are protected and cherished. Throughout the year, this island paradise is visited by common and bottlenose dolphins, and blue and humpback whales. It is a site were marine animals come for rest during their long migration. Tours of each island can be booked, but strict laws prohibit boats from disturbing the animals. Visitors can stop by at one of the many whale museums on land, displaying the culture’s drastic transformation from killing to protecting whale species.

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Hikers
The Azores also has a strong allure for hikers. The mountains here are some of the tallest in the world if you were to measure from the ocean floor. Mount. Pico is the most famous, ranging from 7,713 feet above sea level. It has over 60 trails that usually take up to 3 hours to hike. From those trails, two of the most popular sites are the São Miguel’s Setes Cidades twin lakes and Lagoa do Fogo which takes you to the shore. The island of Flores is a famous hiking site, well-known for the land’s extreme natural beauty.

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Diving
With the frequent whale and dolphin sightings, this would be a great diving site, but the water holds many more surprises. The volcanos not only provide for nutrient water, but the lava creates winding caverns and rock formations for many species to thrive. Exploring below the surface, divers can find Devil Rays, Loggerhead Turtles, Sharks, Slipper Lobsters, Yellow Mouth Barracuda, Tuna and plenty more. Along with this, you can stumble upon one of the decaying shipwrecks. Most of the Islands provide for dive trips and with the visibility as high as 100 ft. and water temp around 70F, it is one experience that would not be easily forgotten.

Join us as we explore the unknown and exotic locations around the globe. We can help to make your life easier by planning your adventures for you. Just askus@ladyredot.com!


josh-may Hello! I’m Josh and I’m a journalism and business student from the U.S. I grew up near Boston but now I’m living in Thailand. In the past I’ve been a ski instructor, waiter, and camp counselor. Now I’ve taken up the pen and want to develop my skills as a writer. I got hooked on traveling last December. I found the microscopic image of my town and realized how much of the earth I hadn’t seen. Since then I’ve had a fire in my belly to see and do as much as I can. My experience here in Thailand has been so great and now I’m eager to share and inspire others to get out, it’s worth it! You can keep in contact with me at LinkedInUpwork or Facebook.

An Overview of Taranaki, New Zealand

You think you have explore enough exotic places, you haven’t seen the breathtaking scenery of Taranaki. Touted to be The Place to Visit in 2017, it is a must visit location if you think New Zealand is only about Lord of The Rings, churches and cows.

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Taranaki Natives
Taranaki is a beautiful region in northern New Zealand. The Māori people originally inhabited the land, also referred to as Tangata Whenua “people of the land”. Māori was a warrior like culture and under some accounts were known to eat their enemies. Similarly, to the Native Americans, most of these people’s land were taken by British colonisation. Tariana Turia, Associate Minister of Māori Affairs, compared the 17th-century land war to the Holocaust. Between the conflicts and foreign diseases, Māori people were almost wiped out. Now in the wake of the 21 century, the natives are reviving, acting as the 2nd largest ethnic group in New Zealand.

Two historical Māori heroes were Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi. War veterans and esteemed chefs, these two lived in the heat of the invasion. Seeing their people killed and land taken, Te Whiti and Tohu organised a nonviolent resistance. As soldiers broke down faience and cleared villages for roads, the Māoris rebuilt. As farmland was confiscated, workers continued ploughing. Aggravated by the native’s efforts, over 1,000 men charged Te Whiti and Tohu’s village to find children singing and dancing at the entrance. Closest to centre, soldiers found the two chiefs with the rest of the village offering food and dance. Outraged many were arrested, and the leaders were imprisoned on another island. Their lives were a great testament inspiring other nonviolent resistance and modern art.

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The Mountain
The centrepiece of this territory is Taranaki Mountain, giving it is named. “Tara” meaning mountain top and “naki” meaning shimmering. It is also called Egmont Mount named by British explorer James Cook. It is almost a perfectly symmetrical 2,519-meter stratovolcano, luring in geologists from all around the world. Eruptions are predicted to occur every 90 years, but that doesn’t stop hikers. For athletic people, the hike can take up to a day. It is ranked the second most dangerous in the country with a noted 83 deaths. Other recreational activities on Taranaki include Skiing. Stratford Mountain Club has a scenic slope on the eastern side.
Some Māori people believed the volcano used to live in the middle of the island with the rest of the volcanos. Legend has it that fell in love with Pihanga, a mountain beauty. Tongariro- another volcano- jealous, erupted in rage forcing Taranaki to flee westward. On his way, Taranaki carving out the Whanganui River and Ngaere swamp. To this day he laid, but some Māori still fear living between the two great enemies.

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Surf Highway
A 105 km road wrapping around the coast of Taranaki is a perfect place for adventurous surfers- cold water, black volcanic sand, and rocky beaches. Although not ideal conditions, with the many options and strong reef surf’s, travellers for all around come. One of the most famous beaches, Kumara Patch, is known for its left hand, fast breaking waves. Other favourite sites along the highway include cosy coffee shops, Cape Egmont Lighthouse, Puke Ariki Museum, Normanby Dam- a site where kayakers drop of dams- Taranaki thermal pools, and the Egmont National Park. Connected by the forest, hikers and enter the park from Sefton Track a 2-hour loop.

Come and join us as we venture exotic and off-the-mill places at all corners of the world. You can always tap on our ideas at askus@ladyredot.com.


josh-may Hello! I’m Josh and I’m a journalism and business student from the U.S. I grew up near Boston but now I’m living in Thailand. In the past I’ve been a ski instructor, waiter, and camp counselor. Now I’ve taken up the pen and want to develop my skills as a writer. I got hooked on traveling last December. I found the microscopic image of my town and realized how much of the earth I hadn’t seen. Since then I’ve had a fire in my belly to see and do as much as I can. My experience here in Thailand has been so great and now I’m eager to share and inspire others to get out, it’s worth it! You can keep in contact with me at LinkedInUpwork or Facebook.

Hot Springs in Taipei

Planning to go to Taipei in 2017? You have to write this down on your to-do list: hot springs in Beitou!

Brief Background
Because of Taiwan’s geographical location, blessed with warm, clean, crystal-clear, sulfuric water in the form of hot springs. Beitou, the mountainous, northernmost district of the city of Taipei, is positioned just over the dormant Datun Volcano Group, which is also why it has the most number of hot springs across the globe.

Most of the bathhouses and other buildings in Beitou still bear evidence of the Japanese Occupation of Taiwan. The town began restoring the Japanese infrastructure in the 1990s after so many years of neglect when the Japanese left.

Although hot springs are more commonly featured in spas and resorts, Taiwan’s hot springs are potable and are safe to drink.

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Common Courtesy
Courtesy and respect are very important especially when you are using a shared facility with tourists and locals alike. Before you go, please note that it is imperative to follow the rules when it comes to bathing in hot springs.

Most bathhouses require the guests to wear head caps for sanitary purposes. If the property has separate pools for men and women, you are expected to bathe nude, but if all genders can share the same pool, you may bathe in your swimming attire. Be conscious of your health as well, as there are time limits in some pools, and prolonged bathing in hot temperature water could be dangerous for some.

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Where to Go
Millennium Hot Springs or Beitou Garden Spa
Anyone who wants to soak up the goodness of hot spring water should go to Millennium Hot Springs. This bathhouse is open to the public and is very affordable. Aside from the indoor bathhouses, the visitors can also enjoy the outdoor pools with different temperature.

Thermal Valley or Jade Springs Valley
This tourist attraction is a pool of jade-colored water with temperatures ranging from 80 degrees Celsius to 100 degrees Celsius, hence its nickname “Hell Valley”. It’s too hot you could feel the steam before you even get to the pool. What makes it this hot spring even more amazing is that it contains radium, which is believed to have therapeutic benefits. However, the temperature makes this attraction not suitable for bathing, so this is mainly for sightseeing.

Beitou Quanyuan Park Foot Bath
After a long day’s walk, you might want to pause for a bit and relax by soaking your tired feet in this natural hot spring. There are no charges to use the facilities, which makes it, even more, a must-visit place for tourists on a budget. Although this private park is a little out of the way, it is worth it.

Hot Spring Spas/Resorts in Beitou
There are many properties in Beitou which offer in-house hot spring spas to visitors. The most famous ones are Sweetme Hot Spring Resort, Spring City Resort, and Beauty Age Hotel, which are a perfect place to unwind as they offer private bathing.

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What to Prepare
A normal swimwear or even wearing a bikini is fine. Most spa will provide a robe for you as well. You might want to bring along your own toiletries especially if you do not want to use the common shampoo or soap as the other guests. Most of the hot springs will insist on a swim cap for hygiene purposes so it is best to bring that along or you’ll have to purchase on the spot. A good sturdy pair of non slip flip-flops is great if you do not wish to walk from the changing room to the hot spring pool barefooted.

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Afterwards
Take plenty of water as you will be dehydrated from the hot spring. It is advisable that you take a light meal after a hot spring activity as well instead of gouging yourself on a full blown meal.

Hot Springs in Taiwan are a definite worthwhile to go. In fact, many visitors from neighbouring countries will plan a yearly trip just for its health benefits. Would you like more information on the hot springs in Taipei? We love to customise your trip for you! Just talk to us at askus@ladyredot.com


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Mish worked as a travel expert, customer service specialist and a communications trainer in the past. After working for eight years straight since she graduated, she decided to give up her corporate job. She now focuses on her 4-year old son, works as a freelance writer and a real estate assistant. She is a sun-worshipper, a water baby, and an earth warrior. And oh, she’s tiny but she is an Olympic-level glutton. Let her bring your tummy around the globe! You can reach her at LinkedIn.

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Guest Post: HOW TO DO A DIY YOGA RETREAT IN KOH TAO, THAILAND.

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I started to look into yoga retreats after four months on the road. I wanted a break from the constant moving around, and a place to chill out for a bit. Now, just to be clear I am not a yogi. In fact I’ve only ever been to a handful of classes, before deciding I was way to intimidated by the other people wearing fancy yoga pants, with super flexible backs, strong arms and actual ab muscles. I came out of downward facing dog red in the face and regretting the cigarette I’d just had outside. Essentially I lacked the commitment to further any sort of practice.

So I don’t really know what compelled me to go to a remote island and do yoga. I’m not doubting that I needed to go; my behaviour is erratic, my emotions are generally out of control and I’d spent the last four months boozing and eating burgers.
But my body is just not made for yoga; I don’t mean that like I’m just not that good at it. Literally I’m not built for yoga. An old abdominal operation left a scar running across my belly; as a result I basically haven’t used my very important yoga core muscles in 20 years. The same operation nicked a blood vessel to my left leg, causing it not to sweat (I know, I am so weird). So my danger of face planting is very, very real. I also don’t know my rights and lefts, and of course I am not at all flexible.
Nonetheless, I knew my mind needed to go, even if my body was non-compliant. So I boldly strode off to my first yoga class, not actually that apprehensive, but I think that was just lack of sleep from my journey down from Bangkok.
When I first arrived in Koh Tao, I had planned to go to different yoga studio, Grounded. Which I found out had recently moved and after much googling I just couldn’t find it. So I set out to look for another, and came across Ocean Sound Dive and Yoga. Which was closer, the reviews were great, and they had a budget approved deal on classes. I also needed to commit to this quickly, as with every minute that passed I was at more and more risk of reverting my decision and just signing up to the pub crawl instead.
I had originally planned to stay in the cheapest hostel I could find, and just eat the inflated islands prices for a few weeks. But after the first class  I got talking to another girl, who ended up giving me a lift home, we got chatting about accommodation, plans, life etc etc… Anyway, she was moving out the next day for three weeks, I planned to stay for three weeks; it was perfect, super convenient and dirt cheap. The following day I was in. I was committed.
My first class at Ocean Sound fortunately Restorative and eases me and my aching body in nicely. The instructors were easy going, totally non-pretentious and really knew their shit. The clientele varied from short to long term holiday makers/backpackers and workers from the island. Mostly women, but with the odd guy thrown in for good measure; and all really  lovely.
The studio was super homely; beautifully decorated with large windows, high wooden ceilings, tiled floors, a few discrete spiritual symbols and what I’m told is top of the range equipment. It had a calm and chilled out atmosphere, was really clean, with an abundance of fans, free water refills (which I totally abused) but most importantly it was just super friendly and everyone was welcome.
Classes covered Vinyasa, Hatha, Yin and Restorative. Yin was my favourite because I’m lazy, but I tried to mix it up. Classes are at 7am (I never made it to any of those), 10am and 6pm mostly lasting 90 minutes.
The total pricings worked out at 6,500 bht for 3 weeks at P&N Guesthouse (although there were many others like it). I had my own double bed, shower, kitchen, a small living room and balcony. A two minute walk from the yoga studio in Ban Koh Tao; it seemed  a popular choice for others in my position. The entire block was filled up with European girls spending a few weeks on Koh Tao being all hippy an’ shit.
For the yoga I paid 1000 bht for a one week unlimited pass. So two classes a day (could’ve done three if my body didn’t feel so middle aged). Which worked out at a ridiculous 70 bht per class (approx. £1.55/$2/1.80euro).
To keep my spending down I got the majority of my meals (mostly Pad Thai) from the street stall by my house ‘Lady Sandwich’ and although Lady was a little frosty at first, she soon warmed up to me when she saw I was a repeat customer.
One week in and I really loved the little retreat I’d made for myself. I felt calmer, and the subtle changes to my body were satisfying. I guiltlessly found myself searching yoga inspiration on Insta and Pintrest. I think the yoga has me now.
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A talented 29 year old traveler and writer of the blog https://goneshmavelling.com. Come and follow her adventures around South East Asia, then on to South America on a very strict budget.