Faith Bleasdale survives colonic irrigation, glasses of clay and killer Thai chickens, in search of the spiritual life in Phuket.


Who was it that said you could never be too thin or too spiritual? Whoever it was must have read my mind.

I was in need of a break from city life. I was tired, stressed, a little down and very, very toxic. I needed a detox or a holiday – or both.

So I turned to my old friend, Google. I told him I wanted to ‘fast’ (bring on that weight loss), do ‘daily yoga’ (toned and Zen, please), have a ‘pool’ (a tan would be nice), and be in an ‘exotic destination.’

He gave me a list of worthy options, but as we all know, life is about location, location, location. So I chose Thailand. A ten-day detox on the island of Phuket? Perfect.

The website seemed to answer all my questions:

  • Are you at a crossroads looking for a new direction? “Oh yes.”
  • Do you have a hunch that your life could be better than it is? “Too bloody right.”
  • Do you want to stay young, live longer and be happier? “Of course, although not totally sure about getting old.”
  • Would you like to live life to its fullest and enhance performance in your work? “It would be good to cut down on coffee…”

So I called the owner. My first concern was accommodation as I was going on my own. I was assured the resort was completely safe. Then I asked if they had a pool, as I imagined there would be plenty of feeling weak and reading. He said “yes”, so I gave him my credit card details and he booked me in.

The programme I had chosen sounded completely terrifying. No eating or chewing for 10 whole days. No sugar at all. Not even any juice. All I would ingest was water and supplements, and herbs to help with the cleansing process. Oh, and there would be DIY colonic irrigations. The only easy part seemed to be the daily yoga.

However, I was assured that I would be a whole new person after just 10 days, having cleansed myself of all my physical and emotional toxins. And that sounded good to me…

As my plane touched down, to say that I was terrified is actually an understatement. I was on my own, I was already hungry at the thought of not eating, and I had never, ever had anything – let alone a pipe-full of water – up my bottom. Not surprisingly, I arrived, shaking, at the resort. The owner greeted me with a smile and handed me a bill.

‘What’s this for?’ I asked.

‘The deposit’.

‘But I gave you my credit card,’ I said.

‘We don’t take cards.’

Good start. As he drove me the bank, I pondered why he took my card numbers in the first place. When we returned, I was taken to my room, which was at the end of a dusty track far away from the main resort. When I asked about the pool, I was told it was a ten-minute drive away in another hotel.

I was about to tell him I didn’t feel entirely safe on my own in a hut by a main road, but then I remembered I’d just given the man my money. I was beginning to feel a little un-Zen.

Not so fast…

The fast began the following day. I was awoken at seven in order to take my herbs. The yoga began at 7.30. This was followed by a group discussion. There were about five others in the group and they all looked as scared as me. The guy who ran the place seemed keen to get them over with as soon as possible, but they – and the look on the others’ faces – continued throughout the 10 days.

Soon it was time for my first colonic. We were taken to a cubicle where there was a bucket of water with a tube coming down from it. Below that was a colonic board, with one side propped up on a stool and the other on the loo. Not exactly hi- tech. In fact, it looked like something made on Blue Peter.

I’ll spare you the details, but it actually wasn’t as bad as I thought. In fact, in some ways, it was the least painful part of the trip.

For instance, the five-minute walk from my ‘villa’ to the resort involved being chased by dozens of angry chickens and barked at by various vicious-looking dogs.

Several times a day I would make a run for it while the local children laughed themselves silly. I felt like I was starring in Attack of the Thai Killer Chickens. By the time I got to my yoga class or whatever, I was usually tense, sweaty and neurotic.

Another less than enjoyable aspect of the stay was the actual programme. The herbs were just about bearable, but the Psyllium and clay (yes I drank clay) were vile and made me gag three times a day. (The Psyllium was a cleanser and the clay was supposed to expand inside you and attract toxins.)

Although I didn’t miss food as much as I thought I would, I did begin to feel slightly weak and more than a little tetchy.

The owner tried to help by presenting me with a copy of ‘Supersize Me‘ on DVD. I’m not normally a huge fan of junk food, but after watching it with only a glass of clay for company, I began to fantasise about cheeseburgers and fries. I don’t think this was the reaction he was going for.

Fortunately, the weather was glorious. But the thought of hiring a scooter and risking life and limb to drive all the way to someone else’s pool was a bit much in my weakened state. And although my villa had a terrace, it was on a main road which wasn’t exactly private.

The high point of the trip was – I have to say – one blissful day of shopping. One of the other fasters took me on the back of his scooter to see some of Phuket. We had to bring our Psyllium and clay with us, but it really is a beautiful island.

The beaches are incredible and the views from some of the vantage points are breathtaking. It was post-Tsunami (which is one of the reasons I’d chosen Phuket) and it’s amazing to see how rapidly they have re-built the island. And the shopping was a great distraction, even if the smell of food around us was tauntingly evil…

With a few days to go on my holiday, I suddenly became ill with terrible heartburn. I asked the owner what he thought was going on, but he just suggested I go to a doctor. Given that fasting is supposed to be a natural way to fix yourself, I wasn’t too impressed. So, I stuck it out; sleeping lots and lying in my air-conditioned room watching DVDs.

When the final day dawned, I couldn’t have been happier. In fact, I was smiling like an idiot. I’m afraid to say, I couldn’t wait to get out of there. As I said goodbye to the owner I had to query the bill, as I had been charged for several treatments I had never received. I could have flown home by myself – without a plane.

When I returned to my beloved city, I vowed never to leave it again.

So would I recommend a detox break in Thailand?


About Faith Bleasdale

Faith Bleasdale grew up in Devon, did History at Bristol University and then moved to London. After sampling a huge variety of rubbish jobs, she decided that she would put her passion for writing to good use. She currenty lives in Singapore where the climate and the shopping definitely agrees with her. She writes full time.