Getting Lost

Yes, there’s a hammock on that floating platform — The Sanctuary, Koh Phangan

There’s an art to getting lost. Its opening yourself up to possibilities that seems to be the key catalyst and a necessary but not sufficient condition. Lao Tzu has some simple guidance on this: “A good traveler has no fixed plan, and is not intent on arriving.”

I have found that the best wanderings arise from only a half formed plan that is open to suggestion. I had no particular intention of going to Koh Phangan until minutes before changing my ferry ticket and I didn’t know that Haad Yuan beach existed until hours before I arrived.

Haad Yuan, Koh Phangan

Its 5:30AM in Koh Phangan, Thailand and rain is coming down in buckets as I look out the window from my bungalow. By window, I mean the two hinged wooden planks that cover the space where a window would be. I untangle myself from the mosquito netting I’ve somehow managed to fold around half my body, and softly get up from the bed. Not a bad view.

The previous night I had trekked through a jungle that separates the main party area of the island from three hidden coves which center on a yoga retreat known as The Sanctuary. While procuring a ride to the trailhead, I had met a woman who was also heading towards the coves. Having never taken the jungle path before, we headed out about two hours before sunset which we considered plenty of time to make it before nightfall — or so we thought. The path turned out to be far more steep, questionably labeled, and arduous than either of had imagined.

Two hours in, as we traveled by headlamp, the path diverged. Consulting my slowly dying GPS, we chose the left track as the darkness became more apparent. We could see the lights through the forest, but finding a path towards them was looking more and more difficult as we kept trekking. Luckily, a few minutes later, a pair of headlights came from behind us. The driver was heading in the same direction, so we jumped in the pickup cab and lodging ourselves between coconuts and spare tires, managed to make our way through the final mile and a half.

It was that previous night that we had managed to find the bungalow and decided to take a swim in the ocean teaming with phosphorescent phytoplankton, before finally turning in.

I tell this story less to illustrate reasons to go to Thailand or Koh Phangan in particular, but to elucidate a mindset. Its very easy to get caught up in planning, and miss the true potential of the here and now. While there are far less jungles or hidden tropical coves where I now live, I can get still get lost here. I can still wander and come upon unexpected adventures.

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