Green column: Preserving paradise

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As we sail away from Kawthaung pier, my phone signal disappearing, a lively discussion about compostable toilets takes place on board. Among the guests heading toward Boulder Bay Eco-resort are a permaculture specialist and an architect specializing in sustainable eco-resort management. One of four operational resorts located within the 400-kilometer stretch of Andaman Sea southwest of Myanmar, Boulder Bay is a beach and jungle
paradise in the far western reaches of the Mergui Archipelago, and a destination I have been eyeing for a yoga retreat.

Hidden by a canopy of palm trees, the first signs of the resort are two kayaks idling in the sand. With no island jetty, our boat approaches a barge serving as a research and field training center for marine biologists from Myeik University. An impatient guest dives into the turquoise waters as a motorized dinghy carries the rest of us to shore.

Over the next four days, we trek past solar panels and creeks into the island’s lush interior, scrambling over rocky outcrops and through bamboo groves to hidden beaches in search of the perfect location for a yoga shala. We snorkel with octopuses and turtles and observe two marine biologists working on coral restoration, with the intention of establishing the first Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the region. We learn that eco-tourism is much more than reusing your towels and water bottles.

Not only is Boulder Bay fulfilling its promise of an eco-resort by minimizing its human footprint, owner Bjorn Burchard is taking it one step further with initiatives focused on building sustainable practices with local people. One afternoon, permaculture consultant Greg Knibb demonstrated how to build a mandala garden. This circular plot technique captures water and creates different microclimates, allowing for an assortment of vegetation while using space efficiently. “You can grow on concrete, and a small garden can
feed a family year-round,” explains Greg.

Visiting the Mergui is still expensive because of its remoteness, though we saw on Boulder Bay how those dollars help form sustainable tourism that protects the environment and people in this fragile ecosystem. Join me this October on Boulder Bay for a week of yoga in paradise! Myanmore readers receive 10 percent off when signing up before July 31(mention this column on the registration form). Visit our retreat page at yangonyogahouse.com/islandyogaretreat.

Jojo Yang is the co-founder of MYANMORE Green Award winner Nourish Café and Yangon Yoga House, where she is also the main yoga instructor.

Address: 36/38 Alan Pya Pagoda Road (Down a small spooky alley, opposite Park Royal Hotel) , Dagon Township
Phone: 09 973 802714
Website: yangonyogahouse.com/nourish
Email: [email protected]
Opening hours: Mon-Thurs (10am-9pm), Fri-Sat (10am-3pm), Sun (10am-7pm)

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