Sixteen years after the initial try, it was finally my first day living abroad.
As the sun rose and I walked into the tropical oasis of the Shanti Lodge in Phuket, Thailand, I already knew I had made the right decision. First noticing the outdoor restaurant to my left, this enchanted place that was soon to become my home gently called in with the sunrise as the surroundings of dark wooden structures, cascading white drapes lined with seashells, lush green plants, enchanting flowers and personally-chosen artwork calmly radiated the love, beauty, fun and sense of comfort that I had been searching for.
The kidney-bean shaped pool to my right and its built-in waterfall were a lovely addition to the landscape, what would backup my identity as a unicorn-mermaid (shout-out to the lovely man at Burning Man who gifted me my horn), and what was to save us in those hot and humid days and nights.
As I walked through the small maze of stairs and different pathways within the jungle-like oasis, I eventually found and was shown around by Grandma and her fluffy white dog, Winter, who was soon to be accompanied by the other loving Shanti dog, Mojo, and a family of onsite kitties. Grandma, the mother of Kim, the owner, and Kim’s brother, Monody are both onsite which only adds to the heart and soul of this community. This South African family who have long-since lived in Thailand made sense of the spirit of this place, as they are the type to bring in the idea that there is no such thing as a stranger.
After a nap and getting settled into my well-taken-care of and very large wooden room with its view of The Big Buddha statue, I took a shower in the open-air communal bathroom areas (though private suites are available) and headed toward the music that was constantly DJed over the next few days by a soulful man from the Congo and a fun-loving Dutch man who has been coming back to Shanti for years.
That’s the way of The Shanti. There’s a soul to this place. It may not be new, but it’s well-taken-care of and has just the right kind of wear to show its heart and soul. People come, mostly English-speaking Westerners (at least while I’ve been here), and a few planned days become a week, a few weeks become a month and a few months can even become years. Some days are quiet and some full of life, but it is always inviting.
Shanti is one of those places that make it easy to bond with everyone and everything within its walls. Even the staff, as was soon proven to me by the manager taking me on as a daughter, the main cook becoming a good friend and others as well. It’s easy to find everything you need at Shanti, including community and culture, without ever leaving the property. What’s not easy is getting yourself to leave its protective and entertaining walls for previously-planned excursions.
Don’t get them confused, there are four Shanti properties and they are all different. Whether you chose Phuket, Bangkok, Paksong or Kanchanburi, they all have their own personality and are all amazing in their own way. I hope to visit all of them, but this one has become my first anchor of a life planned living around the world. My first home abroad and the center of this new adventure I have spent my life fighting to turn into a reality. The Shanti Lodge definitely has definitely rocked this gypsy soul and I am so, so thankful for it.
Visit their website and different locations here: Shanti Lodge