Floating in the dark: We tried a sensory deprivation tank at Bangkok’s only float center

Photo: Bangkok Float Center/FB
Photo: Bangkok Float Center/FB

We had high hopes when we stepped into Bangkok Float Center recently to try our first ever session in a sensory deprivation tank.

Writers like John C. Lilly and Michael Hutchison have written about their floating experiences, and describe them as something akin to being on a psychedelic trip — which led us to wonder if chilling out in a 10-inch high warm salt bath, in the dark, for an hour, was about to change our lives.

Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts
Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts

Podcaster and psychonaut Joe Rogan is also a huge fan and, so influential that the intake form asks if visitors heard about floating from TripAdvisor, a friend, Facebook, Google, or Joe Rogan.

Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts
Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts

The center, in Show DC mall, is a clean and pleasant place with four private soundproof float pods in rooms that are hotel-sized with private showers. We met Shanon Tan, an employee and floating advocate who told us that the room and water are kept at exactly body temperature, fooling the body into thinking that it’s actually floating in mid-air.

Though fans say that floating does everything from relieve stress and pain, to replace sleep and enhance creativity, others say it’s just another relaxation activity, like massage or meditation, which is still cool in our book.

We went in and were shown the mandatory earplugs, how to use the optional headrest, and told that music would play for the first ten minutes, and that we would know the session was over when the music resumed and the tub went into its self-cleaning mode by circulating the water.

Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts
Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts

Pro tip: There is no bathroom inside the float rooms. They will ask you if you need to go beforehand. Go. Even if you think you don’t have to.

Pro tip #2: Don’t neck a 16-ounce bottle of water right before you float.

Though we thought we might be scared or claustrophobic in the pod, it was actually calming, pleasant, and relaxing. Being the first time, it was hard to clear the mind and get into a meditative state, so we just observed the experience instead and tried to soak up the benefits of the salt bath (also known as a magnesium bath or epsom salt bath).

Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts
Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts

The water itself has 800 pounds of salt dissolved in ten inches of water, which is what makes floaters buoyant. It’s an effort to sit up in the water or push your feet down to the bottom. During the float, we had the strange feeling repeatedly that we were moving forward and our feet were always about to hit the bottom — they never were, though.

Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts
So.Much.Salt. Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts

As Shanon had warned, we were pretty out of it when we emerged from the pod an hour later. It was difficult to scrub all the salt from our hair. Later in the day, we noticed a larger appetite than normal, a craving for healthy food, and the ability to do little other than lie around. Our skin also looked better and plumper and remained that way for the next few days — this is thanks to the magnesium, by some advocates’ guesses.

Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts
Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts

That evening, at the gym, we were able to run twice our usual amount without even trying, and the evening brought rock-like sleep. The chilled-out, slightly out-of-it feeling remained for about 48 hours after the float.

Our take-away? We thoroughly enjoyed it, and will try again to see if we can reach the next-level states that some proclaim floating can help people reach.

 

FIND IT:
Bangkok Float Center
Show DC Mall, 4th floor
Rama 9 Road
Open daily, 10am-10:30pm
Floats from THB2,100
MRT Rama 9

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