A FANCY VISA RUN
Malaysia gives us foreigners a 90 day visa which has to be renewed by leaving the country for 72 hours. On your return you get another 90 days. Many make the trip to the southern Thai town of Satun, but having spent six weeks there having The doctor refitted, I couldn’t face another three days there by myself.
Yes I am alone here on The Doc, well not really alone, I have Motley the ship’s cat that needs constant grooming and stroking. Rob is Australia fulfilling a desire to have a good chunk of time off the boat to enjoy being in a house and to spend time with family. He has been busy getting our house in Busselton ready for short term rental and we Skype most days to share our news and progress regarding our respective projects. Living alone is an interesting experience, one that I haven’t done since I was 18 years old. There are plenty of people at the marina to talk to, share a drink or a meal, so I don't feel lonely.
Well back to the visa run. Where can I go that is out of the country, not too hard to get to and might be a bit interesting? I was keen to get out of the marina as I had been there since July and volunteer dog walking, daily yoga and jungle walking were wearing a bit thin. With a bit of on line research I found Island Yoga in Nature Lodge, a yoga retreat on the Thai island of Ko Yao Noi. Perfect. I had always wanted to do a yoga retreat and voila two birds with one stone!
|Volunteer dog walking at the LASSIE animal shelter|
One of Rebak Marina’s advantages is that is right near an international airport, so a quick taxi trip to the airport, an hour’s flight to Kuala Lumpur and another short flight to Phuket in Thailand and I had fulfilled my visa requirements already. Taxi to the fast but very packed ferry to Yao Noi and I was at the retreat ready for my first yoga lesson at four thirty.
I had my own little bungalow complete with huge bed, bathroom and best of all a veranda complete with hammock. I could envisage whiling the hours between yoga classes reading a book or just staring towards the ocean framed by lush tropical gardens.
|Basic but nice|
There were 15 or so participants of all ages and from all over the world, couples, singles, backpackers and several business people working in Asia looking for some respite. As the group practised yoga together and ate together a bond was quickly established. There were two yoga teachers, Kai Lash and Kristie, each with a different style and approach. One was more considered and involved with correct technique and the other more ephemeral and more in to challenging meditation practises. The environment was perfect with beautiful glass panelled yoga room and an open air dining and meeting area where cheap and sumptuous meals were served by the Thai family who run the retreat.
|The yoga room|
My hopes of relaxing in my hammock soon vanished as first the rock climbing option came up, and then the Tai Chi option took the last of my free time. Rock climbing is often paired with yoga as the moves are similar and both requiring strength and flexibility. As probably the oldest of the group, I was not going to fail to climb the rock face! I didn’t feel any fear until I reached a part of the climb where I had to make a lunge for the next hand hold without really knowing if I could make it. It is really all about trusting your partner and the equipment. I made it to the top but was totally knackered for the next day! Tai Chi was a gentler option, challenging more to your coordination and grace!
|Hugging the rock|
|I think I can....|
Three days whizzed past and before I knew it I was fronting the airport counter in Phuket with the lady behind the counter wanting to refuse me on the flight back to Malaysia. I couldn’t produce my future flight details to prove that I had intentions of leaving Malaysia. Eventually she conceded that looking at my passport I had in fact come and gone from Malaysia many times and was likely to do so again. She warned me sternly that I may be refused entry into Malaysia and my anxiety about travelling with correct paper work continues to flourish.
Returning home to the boat and Motley was a joy. My job was done. Passport with correct stamps for another 90 days obtained.