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What brought you to Phangan Cookie?
I have never packed a bag with intentions of coming to Koh Phangan, I always just end up here. The journey started in Nepal working with a small independent charity called Pebbles For Nepal created by a lady in my home town (Jenny Stewart), the charity installs water tanks in remote areas of Nepal, we raise all the money ourselves by fundraising events, bbqs, selling patches, basically whatever we can do to fund the project and most importantly nothing from what's raised is used for us. We pay our own way, live with the locals, so the money raised is actually going to where it's intended and needed which is a rarity these days.
When we finished what we had set out to do it was Nepal’s winter, I was craving warmth so I went to the travel agency and asked for some where warm, cheap and fast, they replied ‘Thailand, you leave in a few hours’.
I made a friend in Bangkok who once lived on Koh Phangan and suggested that if I liked Psy Trance and House music then this was the island to be. She also gave me the name of somewhere that came to be a second home to me, Ban Sabaii.
Like so many people who come to this island for what is meant to be a week or two, I ended up staying seven months and before you ask, my mother did not name me Cookie, it was a nickname that the people I was first hanging with named me. This caught on very fast, almost too fast haha! So that's what most people know me as here, but my real names Aliy.
How did you get into hula hoop art?
I have been hooping for almost two years now. It was only in recent years that I started to notice the mesmerising art of hooping popping up here and there, a friend from out of town was just getting into it at this time and encouraged me to start. I fell in love instantly, it became my own way of meditation, something I had always struggled with. I tried yoga and meditation but having ADD means that it defiantely wasn't for me.
It was a nice reminder that humans are capable of anything if we put our mind and energy into it. Anyone that has had hoop fever knows it's an addictive passion, maybe because there are no limits to what can be done with a hoop, the illusions and tricks that can be mastered are always evolving. Once you start hooping you want to share this feeling with as many people as possible. I started making hoops for friends and sharing the thing that had brought me so much happiness as much as possible. When living in remote mountain villages in Nepal that are stricken by poverty I would bring hoops made from water pipes and coloured tape up for the children, it’s a cost effective toy to brighten the lives of children who have nothing, for most, this was the first toy they ever owned.
What inspired you to use hooping as a job?
Many people approached me to perform at various events and parties and for a Iong time and I said no. I thought it would feel different once it became a ‘job’, also I never thought of myself as a performer. I have a lot to learn when it comes to Hooping but at the end of the day I was hooping all the time at these parties anyway and needed money so it made sense. I spent all of last year using a hoop held together by bamboo and nails that would break at the most inconvenient of times, the joys of having no money haha! I would find myself using a rock to fix it on a beach all the time, now that's dedication.
So this year having purchased a led hoop and a fire hoop, I was over the moon. Fire arts is probably one of the most beautiful feelings you could experience, something about playing with the elements, being surrounded by something as wild as fire and learning to work with it is so empowering. Growing up I was told to not play with fire, that could also be why I like it so much now.
We have so many talented fire performers on this island, the shows I have seen this year have defiantly stepped up the game. The revolution of led (light emitting diode) is defiantly the future, it's opening so many doors for flow arts and dance performers, apart from it being extremely visually pleasing and amazing to work with, it allows indoor and small space performances where fire has its restrictions in that aspect.
What do you think of the party scene here on Phangan?
Koh Phangan’s party scene is something worth experiencing, there's always something happening in amazing locations, by oceans, surrounded by jungle and nature, with your choice of music genre that suits you. There are so many amazing passionate Djs on this island that are creating magic with sound, the universal language that connects us all. People from everywhere in the world are brought together by their love of music and dance culture is creating a special community vibe unlike anywhere else. It's the mystery of this magic island.
What is special for you about Jungle Experience in particular?
The atmosphere at the Jungle Party is on its own level, probably one of the wildest parties on the island. It's a party that is defiantely not lacking anything. What really separates Jungle from the rest is how much love and creativity goes into it from the team at Jungle Experience. They think of everything from costume designs that are walking pieces of art, amazing paintings and sculptures scattered throughout the venue which are designed to stimulate the senses. They have literally thought of every way to enhance the party experience and it defiantely shows. Hands down my favourite party to work with.
What are you next plans?
My next movements are to go back to Australia and spend Christmas with my family, enjoy some of the beautiful summer that my country has to offer. Then I plan on packing a bag for Koh Phangan and moving here for a period of time. This place never stops inspiring me, It's the perfect environment to have creative freedom. I have got a few things cooking for when I come back but one thing I defiantely intend on doing is making hula hoops and running classes for people that are interested and somehow finding a way to benefit the charity Pebbles for Nepal from Koh Phangan.
What's your life Philosophy?
Have good intentions behind everything you do in life. Basically just try not to be a shit person.
You can find out more on Pebbles for Nepal on these pages:
Facebook: Pebbles For Nepal