I am sitting in the middle of the jungle and feel all the feelings. Mainly I feel discomfort. Mosquitos eating me alive, stickiness from a repellant that doesn't do its work, sadness, loneliness. It is not a great moment but one that will become pivotal to me in its importance.
With this discomfort, I finally realize that something is not right with me, something more than just a heartbreak. I am so grateful for this realization that I cry some more, tears of relief this time - I feel like the jungle has just given me the answer to an unspoken question, the tool to get help.
Mind you, I didn't see that coming. I returned to my beloved Koh Yao Noi to just 'get over it'. To find tranquility and peace, to meditate surrounded by jungle sounds, and to take in good green energy while I was sleeping. I expected it to be the end of a process, not the beginning.
I knew I would eventually return to the island though the time never seemed right until now. Until I found (via someone's Instagram account of all places!) the perfect Koh Yao Noi accommodation, the perfect place for me and my journey: The Island Hideout. No wifi, no electricity, just four Peter Pan-esque tree houses hidden in the jungle and a mini pool overlooking the ocean from the distance. I was equally scared and elated by its solitude.
I had loved Koh Yao Noi from the first moment I set foot on the island a few years back. I didn't mind that the beaches weren't as pristine and enjoyed the fact that everything here seemed a bit more ramshackle yet authentic.
Returning now I realized that I underestimated how big Yao Noi really was and how much it has developed in just a few short years. Mind you, that was maybe due to the fact that last time I only stayed on Pasai Beach and didn't go much further than to the first rubber tree forest. My little island getaway didn't need much space.
Now I realized that one does need a motorcycle to get around or spend a lot of money on taxis. Or walk, an endeavor I gave up on after it took me over 40 minutes to get from the Hideout to the 7 Eleven. While I didn't mind the walk, I arrived dripping with sweat something not even the cats on the way could make up for.
The island was different than my memories of it but I still liked it. It wasn't as dreamy, not as paradisical as I recalled it or as I created it in my mind but it was real and its reality suited my mood.
Sleeping in the jungle was a wakeup call, both for my inner self and quite literally when the sounds of cicadas made an alarm obsolete.
I remember last year when I went to Borneo where we slept on a wooden boat in the jungle. My friend Amelia declared that surely anyone who wanted to have a sound machine with jungle sounds to fall asleep had never actually been to the jungle. If they had they would know that jungle sounds while soothing are also quite loud at times. While I can appreciate the sound of a cricket here and there, cicadas are a whole different ballgame.
However this time around, I was grateful to them as they droned out the noises from the tree house next to mine which left little to the imagination as to what the couple was doing there in lieu of Netflix.
Not that I blamed them. To be quite honest, I was envious because this had to be one of the most romantic places I have ever stayed in and for a change, I minded being on my own. I sat overlooking the greenery and was waiting for inspiration. Waiting for silence, for stillness to meditate, to soak up good green energy. After all, this is what the Hideout is for if not for romance. Or so I thought. But just because this is what I wanted didn't mean I was going to get it. When tranquility and a solution on how to turn my life around didn't come, I gave up and surrendered. There was no silence in the jungle, no stillness thanks to the mosquitos, and I didn't feel like faking it for Instagram. So instead I counted the leaves in front of me, scratched my mosquito bites, cried, and eventually got comfortable with my discomfort.
So I spent my days in a little green bubble of tears and hope, trying my best just to be and breathe and appreciate the beauty of paradise Koh Yao Noi around me. The island was different and as was I but the views were still stunning as were the sunsets. People were still going after there business, kids laughing, taxis hustling. Life went on, business as usual, and it didn't stop for me and my moods, a thought I found oddly comforting.
My last morning dawned and my bags were packed. I was sad and relieved at the same time to be leaving. Sad to return to the real world and to leave my jungle hideout and relieved to get away so I could start to get my life back on track. I didn't know yet how long it would be until I was happy again but I knew I wanted to get going.
On my way to the restaurant, I ran into a spider web, seemingly covering my entire head. I looked up and saw that half of the web was still intact and that the spider as big as my hand was sitting on its remains, glaring at me. She seemed to agree that it was time for me to leave; we both had stuff to get done and get on with our lives.
Koh Yao Noi Travel Tips
Koh Yao Noi Accommodation
The Island Hideout has four individual tree houses with a double bed and an ensuite bathroom. They don't have electricity but you have candles, a lot of mosquito repellant and a mosquito net above the bed.
For next year there might be warm water which will be quite nice as all the bathrooms come with huge bathtubs and jungle views.
The restaurant has a yoga platform, hammocks, and a small pool.
If you need electricity like me you will have to go to a restaurant in town to recharge your batteries though they do have portable chargers for mobile phones available. I had a local AIS sim card which worked quite well when I need to go online.
Do take ear plugs for the jungle sounds and the helicopter which brings guests to the Six Senses Yao Noi in the early morning hours.
And yes, there is some wildlife though I was told the spider I ran into was harmless and definitely not the size of my hand 😉
Getting to Koh Yao Noi from Phuket is incredibly easy. From the Bangrong pier, you can either take a ferry (THB 120) or a faster speedboat (THB 200). They run hourly. I caught the speedboat which was perfect and for just THB 50 extra they even handled my ultra-heavy suitcase for me.
Once on Koh Yao Noi you can either rent a motorbike, a bicycle or take taxis. I opted for the latter though most expensive option. Note that if you are staying at the Island Hideout you will need to have decent motorbike skills as a big part of the road is a somewhat steep dirt road.
They are planning on implementing a shuttle service in the future. For now a taxi from the pier will cost you THB 200 and THB 100-150 to the 7 Eleven at the market.
If you care to take a walk it will take you about 40 minutes.
Koh Yao Noi Restaurants
The food at the Island Hideout is really really good and the menu is big enough not to get boring. They are also the only place that offers organic produce and sources as much locally as possible, giving back to the community on the island. With that, you won't find certain things on the menu or local substitutes - a philosophy I wholeheartedly agree with.
A great option for lunch is their restaurant in town called Faye's that also offers many options for vegans and a soon to be launched cocktail menu.
For those looking to explore the island, I can recommend Chaba opposite the Koh Yao Noi Island Resort. They offer brilliant detox juices and wine as well as some great healthy dishes, both western and Thai. After lunch, explore the beach in front of the hotel (all beaches in Thailand are public and you can just saunter there from the main street through a little dirt road). Koh Yao Noi is not known for its pristine, beautiful beaches but that one is quite beautiful and well worth a visit.
If you are keen for an inexpensive meal, a quiet place to work and cat-company head to the Garden Cafe. While not fancy it is a lovely spot for a good coffee and a great pad thai.
Have you been to Koh Yao Noi?