Two years after my accident I decided I needed to improve my Muay Thai skills. I had maintained contact with a man I had met (prior accident) at a week long intensive Muay Thai seminar at Master Toddys Muay Thai academy in Las Vegas. He had made a couple trips to Master Toddys new gym in Bangkok. Master Toddy and his family had since moved back to Bangkok and started a state of the art Muay Thai gym. My friend suggested (probably not realizing how bad my body was, I’m sure I convinced him otherwise with our online conversation) that I head to Bangkok for a bit of training when he went next time. I had learned so much in Vegas and my obsession with getting back in the cage led me to again to want to improve my skills and fix my tattered body.
I was still a mess. My right arm was far from being fixed. I still limped a bit, couldn’t run, and could barely hit. Tho, my trainer had been working with me endlessly I was far from normalcy and even further from the fighter I had been and wanted to become once again. So, what do I do?
Head to Bangkok of course 😉
Surprisingly, my parents weren’t terribly hard to convince. They knew I was crazy and had traveled a lot before, plus I can be pretty convincing when I want something. I began saving my money from my bartending job. And, a year later, (Thai summer, our winter), I headed to Bangkok.
I stayed at a bungalow in the gym. It had everything I needed. I became a gym rat. I trained 2 hours in the morning, 2 hours at night, slept, 2 hours in the morning, 2 hours at night, slept, etc. It was hot, hard, and awesome. Everyone I met was wonderful. Master Toddy and his wife treated us like their own family and we were a little Muay Thai Family. Bangkok is so confusing, the sky train is a wonderful asset. I ate at the same couple places everyday and trained, went to fights. If you really wanted, you could go somewhere every night.
We went to the famous Lumpini Stadium, which seats 9,500, and it was packed as always.
Thais love Muay Thai. It’s the national sport, like football is here. Kids grow up boxing to make money for their very poor families. Thais may not have much, but they are the kindest, helpful, most genuine people. Whole families live in little tiny rooms.
We went to the Floating Market. It’s literally floating. You travel from place to place….stand to stand, in a boat.
The Erawan Museum we visited next. It is unique and an elaborately created museum and temple combination. (Chang Sam Sien ช้างสามเศียน). Though officially it’s located outside of Bangkok, in Samut Prakan, it’s literally just a few kilometers away from Bang Na BTS station. The most prominent feature of the Erawan Museum is the gigantic 3 headed elephant that reaches a height of 43.6 meters and weighs a total of 150 tons! It’s def something to see.
Ancient Siam is a 320-hectares “city” featuring 116 structures of Thailand’s famous monuments and architectural attractions. The grounds of Ancient Siam correspond roughly to the shape of the kingdom, with the monuments lying at their correct places geographically. Some of the buildings are life-size replicas of existing or former sites, while others are scaled down.
I also went with my Muay Thai family to get tattoos. I did not get one, tho I wish I would have gotten a clear one. They do it in clear ink, as you can see in the pictures. Knees for strong knees, Elbows for strong elbows, the back of the hand for strong punches, etc. You’re probably thinking what’s the point? Well, they are done by Monks and it’s blessed. That is why you see so many fighters all tatted up. They are truly blessed 😉
I went to a ton of fights by many of Master Toddy’s students. Most are foreigners who live, train, and fight for the gym. All fights are pro and for money. The gym gets a cut for training you and you get a cut. A fight is really something to see. There’s no doubt you’re going to see blood. Knees and Elbows are vicious. The crowd gets into a betting frenzy that is ongoing. You must be careful not to make a gesture that would obligate you to participate in the bet. There are always crowd favorites and a headline fight.
Muay Thai is a true art form. You start with the Wai Kru. Wai is an action of Thais to show respect to others by putting the hands together like in prayer. The fighter performs the Wai Khru by circling the ring three times before kneeling and bowing three times as a sign of respect to God and man. He also bows to Buddha (traditionally) to ask for protection for himself and his opponent and for an honourable fight. The fighter then performs the Ram Muay, whose simple movements demonstrate a fighter’s control and style. Each fighter performs the Ram Muay on each side of the ring to demonstrate his prowess to the audience. The Ram Muay is a personal ritual, ranging from the very complex to the very simple, and often contains clues about who trained the fighter and where the fighter is from. The fighter may wear a headband called a Mongkhon and armbands known as Pra Jiad during the ceremony, and the Ram Muay may be accompanied by music. The Mongkhon is unique to Thai boxing. Music is also an integral part. The musical instruments orchestrated in the background of the Wai Khru rituals and in the competitions consist of the Ta Pong or Glong-Kag (Two face drum), Toe Pee Java (Javanese flute) and the Ching (cymbals).
We also went to the World Thai Martial Arts Festival and Wai Kru Muay Thai Ceremony at Nai Khanom Tom Monument, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Stadium. This festival aimed for the preservation of Thai martial arts and self-defense and was a tribute to Nai Khanom Tom, who is highly regarded as a Muay Thai folk hero.
I was there for my big 30th Birthday. I was kind of depressed because I wasn’t where I wanted or expected to be that at point in my life at all. Partially, because my life was put on pause because of my accident. But hey, I was in Bangkok 🙂 We had a blast. Went bar hopping, dancing, ate, drank a little too much 😉 But, one of my new friends and the new Brit I was into at the time made sure I got back to the gym safely. Thanks again…I’m sure you know exactly who you are. It was definitely a Birthday I will never forget.
The whole experience was a blast. I learned a ton and my body continued to heal. I fell in love with Thailand, although Bangkok was a bit much for a small town girl. I convinced myself I’d definitely be back soon.
Be sure to keep following my crazy adventures. Or if you haven’t already be sure to start following by email to hear my next Muay Thai adventure in beachy Southern Thailand – Phuket.