The land juts out into the sea between Haad Gruad and Haad Yao and then recedes into a private bay enveloped in verdant vegetation. We wake to the sound of the sea, and sleep to a faint orchestra of the chimes and buzz of nature that lulls us into deep relaxation. We wake to the sight of a mirror like sea, pale blue to deep turquoise depending on the reef and there the sun reveals it's shallow depths. We tumble out of bed, strap on our snorkelling gear, and we like to see what marine life has returned to the bay because we worked hard to revive the reef that locals told us was dead because of dynamite fishing that fisherfolk had naively used (they were told just use this explosive stick, and the sea will throw the fish up at you) and now we have rainbow fish, parrot fish, beautiful tiny fish (this has become a nursing bay for fish) and a week ago we had a night time octopus encounter where the octopus watched us clean the beach and then changed colour and ambled off like it was any other friendly neighbour, and indeed it is - and when we arrived and looked at the land, we were excited by the privacy and the isolation desire the central location on the North West of the island, near the markets etc, but also dismayed by the state the land was in, there was a lot of rubble on the beach and on the reef, we worked hard to remove truckloads of rubbish and construction waste and now after three years of toil, this is the kind of idyllic beach that we grew up dreaming of when we would read of far away bays, paradise islands discovered by ship wrecked captains - so here we invite you join us in a Robinson Crusoe adventure (we have softened the experience with a lot of natural fabrics, weaves, basketry, and naturally dyed treasures we have found in Khiriwong on the mainland, and in Isan province. The whole house interiors are covered or draped in Indigo leaf dyed fabric which we have either dyed ourselves with grandmothers on charity projects that we run, or that we have bought from government projects to support communities recovering from floods and mudslides.
We like to collect containers/ closets/ pots/ baskets that either tell a story or showcase the traditional crafts we encounter as we traverse the villages in Dye safaris for which we are grateful to Chomwan and Philip who research for their brand Philip Huang NYC but also send us paste dye which we use bring communities of foreigners, refugees and locals together. Dyeing is a transformative process, and indigo dye just requires focus and patience and then will to set your creativity free. So this is this home you are swapping for. It is a giant community project. The point was to see if we could fulfil our commitment to the environment without sacrificing a penchant for aesthetics and comfort: so this is it: Thai cushions are made larger than normal to give your back a full rest. The houses and structures are leaky to the light and air so that you are not living against nature, but rather embracing it. At the same time there are structures that close up to protect you from the elements should you feel the need, just so you have the choice. We do not judge how you use the space, we ask only that you engage with nature, and join us in our plastic free zone. We take inspiration from Ryokan culture in Japan, where no branding, no plastic, no jarring items meet the gaze, so you are free to contemplate the textures made by nature and those artisans who choose to collaborate with nature to create. You will find Indigo wall panels, and you will find Yan LiPao grasswovven containers, you will find art work in latex that comes from rubber plantations from local farmers on the mainland, the point is to celebrate zero kilometre and endeavour to try to exist in a state without creating too much waste. We waited, we collected. Everything is handmade and handwoven, including the house. No power tools were used and we worked on the first bamboo structure where we sleep, we made windows and laid down floors, like the three builders, it was a beautiful process to engage in and we hope to encourage others to enjoy this. We have a house with air-conditioning for others who need to exercise a little more control over the tropical environment (my sister and mother will be the first to avail this opportunity) and for those who want to work in a cocoon and need to build resistance to the distraction of the glorious views, although this structure/ house also has gorgeous views if you want to let them in, all you have to do is give the shutters a gentle nudge. There are a lot of restaurants and bars/ meditation events/ dance events/ vegan restaurants that coexist with steak speciality and seafood places - what we love about where we are in Koh Phangan is the fact that locals and foreigners seem not just to tolerate differences an diversity but embrace each other's quirks and this creates a beautiful vibe, symbiotic, light, a pleasure to dip in and out of.