Today I’m hosting a picture taken by Ellen Bard from Wherever the Wind Takes Me.
Ella took this great shot during her stay on Koh Phangan in Thailand, as she discovered the advantages of ‘Sabai Sabai’ life.
Ellen is a freelance management consultant and work psychologist; personal development blogger and fiction author who quite her 60-hour a week role in London three years ago to travel and live a different sort of life. She is based in Chiang Mai.
Ellen is a super busy person with multiple blogs and one of them is a personal development website with great actionable advice – Helping You Shine a Little Brighter in Your Life and Work.
Photo Story: Sabai Sabai Life in Koh Phangan
For a month I watched the sun go down from the same spot at a resort on the island of Koh Phangan, Thailand.
The sunsets were spectacular. Every night the sky blazed with a range of colours: pinks, blues, oranges, yellows.
I’d seen the odd beautiful sunset before, but these had been mainly one-offs, or skies caught in the moment, looked at for a few minutes, and then either they or I, were gone.
But on Koh Phangan, the sunsets are consistently glorious. Rarely a night goes by when the sun just slips beneath the ocean without at least a flash of colour.
I came to Koh Phangan, Thailand, with the intent of doing a month-long yoga programme before I headed back to the UK to resume ‘normal life.’
But Chiang Mai is a city, and the Thai islands have an even slower pace of life.
Sabai sabai- easy easy – is a catchphrase for the people there – the Thais on the island would shake their head at the Western tourists rushing around trying to do too much.
No need, they would say. Sabai Sabai.
I absorbed this way of living slowly – I’d been a management consultant in London, where nothing was Sabai.
I’d worked 60-hour weeks, and never had time to look at the colours of a sunset. The Thai mindset was alien and strange – but, oh, so enticing.
Koh Phangan has its crazy full moon party in the east, sure, but on the west of the island, it’s more about vegetarian food, yoga and chilling out.
It’s a gentle and easy place to live, and sunsets were just one of the things that kept me there – I saw more spectacular sunsets during my time there than in my whole life before.
The beach in the photo was just outside the place I stayed in that first month, and I spent many an evening staring out at the sea.
Water brings me peace, and after a turbulent time living in London, it was calming to spend time in nature: a meditation in itself. I’d started reading a book called The Artist’s Way in Thailand.
I did many of the exercises from it sitting in the cafe that looked out on this scene, the expansive view putting my small human problems into perspective, and reminding me I was part of something much bigger.
As I watched the sun change the sky each night, so I changed. I expanded my perspective, met new people with very different lives, from all over the world.
I talked, laughed, and became so much more than just the consultant who only had work to sustain her.
One month became two…three…until I’d spent six months on Koh Phangan, building an entirely new life online and in Thailand.
I wrote fiction, a personal development and travel blog, and developed a successful freelance consulting business.
And each photo of the sunset – the sky caught mid-transition, its magnificent colours fleeting but none the less powerful for that – reminds me of my own transition.
That we have the power to change our lives, what we do, even who we are. That identity is what we make it. That we have more power and control to change than we think.
And that our time in this world is brief, in the scheme of things. So better to blaze with colour and beauty, lighting up everything around us, for the moments we have, than to slip beneath the sea without a trace. Sabai Sabai.
Sabai Sabai means “happy, comfortable, feeling fine, take it easy”.
When someone asks you “sabai dee mai?” then you reply “sabai sabai” or “mai sabai”.
And if you are panicking or rushing without a reason/need someone might comfort you by saying “sabai sabai”.
It is a very important phrase in the Thai language and the Thai approach to life.
Thai people like things to be sabai sabai with the word repeated to add extra emphasis a bit like saying very comfortable or really relaxed.
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