Hi, my name is Sophie and I am a social media addict. So when I told my colleague that I was heading to Wonderfruit Festival—an eco-friendly celebration of art and music—in Pattaya, she gave me a mission: to stay off my phone for all four days.
Here’s why I didn’t think I would survive this: I’m that friend who, if you were emptying the 14 negronis you just had at the bar by the sidewalk, I’d pull out my phone to film the first 13 seconds, coupled with maniacal laughter in the background, before helping you hold your hair back.
My slightly unhealthy addiction to social media aside, it’s also difficult for me to completely disconnect because, well, I work in media. It has become the norm for me to check in on work emails and keep up to date with whatever is happening, even when I’m on holiday. Just the thought of being off the grid gives me anxiety.
Day 1: The detox starts
The reason why I wanted to check out Wonderfruit Festival is because a friend had described it as a cross between Burning Man and Coachella—which are two festivals that are on my travel list. It’s a lot friendlier on my wallet too, since Pattaya is just a two-hour drive from Bangkok.
And, to be completely honest, Wonderfruit appears to be like a large gathering of hippies looking to chill out, and I, a typical high-strung millennial, desperately needed this break to find my zen and regain my balance.
I officially disconnected from the online world around 8pm that night, after getting off my Grab ride and meeting up with my friends. The first night was a breeze to get through—there were plenty of stages to check out, music was blasting from every direction, and the party was in full swing. In between having a ton of drinks and hitting up several dance floors throughout the night, I almost forgot that I had disconnected… until I almost lost my friends when walking to a different stage. But I spotted them fairly quickly after that without needing to whip out my phone, so Sophie: 1, Technology: 0.
Day 2: The relapse (that was quick)
While the first night without my phone went surprisingly OK, the second day was a little bit tougher. Festival-goers can use the Wonderfruit app to check out the activities happening that day and plan their schedule, but because I’m on a phone ban, I had to rely on the printed brochure… which I promptly misplaced after my second drink of the day.
Here’s another thing you need to know about Wonderfruit—it’s perfect for zoning out. I quickly found out that my favourite thing to do on a balmy afternoon in The Fields is to park at a shady spot and space out, while my friends alternate between having chats, knocking back drinks, and browsing Instagram on their phones.
I guess people really aren’t used to seeing me not on my phone for once, because my friends got very concerned and asked if I was bored several times throughout the day. After assuring everyone that I felt great, we went for a “3D Sound and Light Bath”, a hypnotic sound-healing experience.
I broke the no-phone rule twice on this day: once when I broke away from the group to take a shower (it gets really hot in the afternoons) and had trouble locating them after, and again when we were partying at night and Johnnie Walker was handing out free drinks in exchange for an Instagram post.
I got a mini heart attack when I switched my data back on because I received 53 WhatsApp messages, some of which were work-related, but I knocked my drink back and mustered the liquid courage to put my phone back into airplane mode, praying that nothing is going terribly wrong at work (happy to report that everything was fine, phew).
Day 3: OMG I need Instagram
I woke up in the afternoon, just in time to devour a taco and watch the Red Bull skydive team perform at the Solar Stage. It felt strange to watch an event and not post anything on social media. It’s almost as if I forgot how I functioned in a time before Instagram.
I contemplated going for a flower crown crafting workshop after, but seeing that it’s such an Instagrammable activity, I was afraid that it might trigger another relapse. So instead, I headed to the Eco Pavilion to listen to a talk by entrepreneur Constant Tedder on his new project, Earth.org, which uses machine learning and satellite imaging to study the effect of climate change on human habitat.
The rest of the day was spent napping in my air-conditioned bell tent. I guess you can say I really found my zen here at Wonderfruit, because I can’t remember the last time I had the luxury of time to take multiple naps a day.
And you know what else is great about taking so many naps during the day? I had all the energy in the world to dance the night away, and then waited for the sunrise at Solar Stage. It truly was an experience.
Day 4: What phone?
In between the gong baths, the art installations, and the good vibes going around, I really wanted to text my best friend. We initially made plans to attend this together, but she had some trouble applying for leave.
This is the last night of Wonderfruit, and it culminated in an immersive art performance by artist Sean Rogg. Called FUTURO – X, it’s described as the world’s biggest experiment in empathy and human connection. I was a little baffled because everyone just spent an hour lying down in an open field while holding hands, and having our faces touched sporadically by performers. A little weird, but I didn’t hate it—the weather was lovely and I spent a good part of the time staring up at the stars.
Day 5: Internet, finally
We checked out of the boutique camping area at 12 noon, and while waiting for my transport to arrive, I switched my data back on. While the rest of the group slept on the two-hour ride back to Suvarnabhumi Airport, I spent the entire journey replying WhatsApp messages, checking my work email, and updating Instagram.
After four days of being disconnected, seeing things load on my Instagram feed again feels just like having a cold drink after a very long run. Like I said, I’m an addict.
Was the digital detox good for me? Yes, without a doubt. I was very refreshed after the whole Wonderfruit experience, partly because I slept a lot. I didn’t even realise how tired I was until I took this break from my regular programming.
If I had my phone with me, I’d have defaulted to mindlessly scrolling through my social media feeds, instead of being in the moment and doing whatever my body really wants me to do.
This is such a cliché, but good vibes were truly all around at Wonderfruit. So if you don’t mind getting a little down and dirty and peace out like a hippie for a few days, this is one festival that will really recharge your batteries come year-end. See you at The Fields next year!