Alex James: The Great Escape

Stomach rumble in the jungle
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The Independent Online

We're in Thailand at a super-spa. There's yoga for breakfast, tablets for lunch and enemas at dusk and dawn. You can eat as much clay as you want. We're in with the forsaken women, scaries and hopeless pie-heads.

It's really quite good. I've started the full no-nosh regime. The hotel restaurant is listed as one of the 50 best in the world, and after 12 hours of drinking clay juice I, too, have started to think it must be wonderful.

We're staying up in the trees in a log cabin that's oddly similar to those being built at the campsite near us in the Cotswolds. The unfamiliar is also well represented. There are bats as big as chickens, and they're very inquisitive. Something quite big lives on the roof and thumps around at night. A lot of things live upside-down on the ceiling.

I'd forgotten how hot it is in the jungle. I've been thinking of this holiday as a great chance to catch up with things I've been putting off at home. Big mistake. Being on holiday is something that takes all day.

This all-out massage, meditation and wheatgrass binge is Claire's idea of heaven. Given the choice, I would have had us noodling around winding roads, getting lost and being silly, somewhere where the food is good. Our friends who went to St-Tropez to cavort with billionaires and bambinos have been sniggering away no end.

Everyone has their own ideas about what makes a holiday. This regime isn't what I'd have ordered, but I'm loving it. All my best holidays have been the ones I didn't choose. In a way, you're the worst person to choose your own holiday. You're always going to pick something you think reflects you, and somehow bores you a bit. When you go along with someone else's scheme, you get a bit of a rest from yourself as well as from your life.

The thinking here is that when you stop digesting food for a while, your body starts to detoxify itself automatically as part of its shutdown mechanism. You take advantage of this little miracle to clean yourself out. That, and hosing out your bum regularly.

I'm on the seven-day cleansing programme where you drink supplements and take vitamin pills and probiotics to keep you healthy and stop you feeling hungry. It's too hot to feel hungry anyway, but I've developed a yearning for the idea of food. I can tell you immediately what I would eat. Right now, I really fancy one of Aunty Pat's bridge rolls.

Fasting gives you a whole new perspective. Taking meals out of the routine certainly frees you up. The self-administered "colemas" do that, too. You hang a bucket full of coffee from the ceiling in the bathroom and lie on a plastic bench, which is supported by the loo. You put a greasy tube that comes out of the bucket up your bottom, release a bulldog clip, and the coffee juice comes coursing out. And all of a sudden your legs start shaking. Everything disappears down the loo.

It's definitely more pleasant than not. On the whole, nicer than brushing your teeth. It's like having a good gargle. The coffee helps things along. I think I'll stick with it. It's uncharted territory, you see - which is surely the linchpin of a good break.

alexjames@independent.co.uk

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