Swatdee ka 🙂
(Hello in Thai. Since my last trip I have learned a tiny bit of Thai. And by tiny bit, I mean like three words 😉 The Thai language is very difficult. Any Asian language is difficult to us within the European Language System. It is tonal and male/female. Males add a Krap and females a Ka. Example: Swatdee krap (male), Swatdee ka (female))
One year later, I went back to Thailand, as I vowed. I was still recovering, but doing better. I tried a new area and new gym. Lion Muay Thai in Phuket. More my style, somewhat country and next door (a few kilometers) from the beach.
It’s took me about a week to get adjusted. A 12-hour time difference really has an effect. Thailand is the other side of the world from the east coast of the USA. (I forgot to mention how the time change affects you in the last post.)
Tip: What I like to do, because I cannot sleep on planes, is get my plane tic, so I arrive in the morning. That way I’m excited and energized, because it’s all new. I get myself moved in and settled, discover the area, and crash. Sleeping pills also help, but I hate to take them. A friend, of mine, swears by Ambien.
I left on Wednesday January 16th. I didn’t arrive until the 18, Thai date/time, Friday (it’s a day ahead). My first layover was in Chicago – Short Layover – then 14 hours to Seoul, Korea – Long Layover – layed down on a couple chairs for a bit – finally a 7-hour flight to Phuket. Thai customs weren’t that bad. I was in and out in no time and was picked up by the general manager of the gym, Ollie. In the package airport transfers are included. The gym is a 35-minute drive from the airport. I finally arrived at around 4am. I stayed at a different location the first night. My room wasn’t ready yet. Slept a bit, I was then picked up at 1:00pm to move into the gym. I paid my gym fees for accommodations and training of 22,000 baht ($735.91) after going to a local ATM and getting some Thai Baht. $1.00 = 29.89 Thai Baht. It is better to take local currency with or alert your bank that you will be there and use the ATM’s (depending on the country).
I did train the next afternoon. I met a super cool couple. One is trainer and the other is an American (We are very rare in Thailand. Most are Aussie’s) Off Sunday so I went grocery shopping. There are refrigerators in the rooms. The rooms btw are nice, functional. (Brand new TV’s, own bathroom w/shower (for a bit more), queen bed, wardrobe, and fridge) Everything you would need, plus air, and you def want air. Thailand is hot, hot, hot. First thing you need is lots of bottled water. It is the only safe water to drink. Fruit (fresh 🙂 ) yogurt, mama noodles (like ramen), iced coffee (really good-you’ll never want hot coffee again. I actually drink mine with ice in the states).
Again lots of local fights, many gym sponsored fighters at the gym. First weekend, I went to a Lion Muay Thai fighter’s fight. My first Thai fight in almost a year. (You must go see a fight in Thailand, it’s a big event. Tics were 500-1500 baht). And the payouts are pretty good for the winner. Up to $1,000s And like I explained, in my last thai blog, betting is huge.
Before training most run a 5K or more. My daily 5K was a nice little run, up and down hills. I think going up was easier than going down. It included a scenic tour of the country and elephant farms (yes live elephants just roaming around, it’s so cool) A few days, I took my up-hill route to the beach.
Hardcore training began on Monday. We train Monday – Saturday – twice a day (8-10 and 4-6). After every round we do ten push-ups. We begin and end with stretching. Do two to three rounds of shadow boxing. We then do five complete rounds on pads and then five on punching bags or vice-versa, then either do 100 front kicks and knees or spar, and at least 100 abs of some sort at the end (your choice).
Once a week we’d train on the beach Friday morning. It’s challenging. Running in the sand is hard. But, it is a good change of pace. We’d begin with stretching and shadow boxing. Then, go to six dif pad holders and do a set of 10 punches, then six dif again and 10 hooks, and then the six again and 10 knees each. Running to each set (in the sand which creates a whole new challenge) Then, run on the beach. Swim a little and get a little wet and then come home. Sunday is a day of rest as it should be according to the big guy.
I went to the Hardrock Cafe in Patong. It was a fun night on the town with an American friend who lives and works in Malaysia who came to Phuket to visit. In every city I go to I always stop at Hardrock, have a shot, and buy a shot glass. American music is popular all over the world. There was a live band singing American covers and every bar was playing some sort of American music.
The trainers are amazing. Always working with you, helping you overcome road blocks on your way to being the best Thai fighter you can be. Especially if you show you have passion, they’ll do their best to help you in any way they can. I experienced the same thing at Master Toddy’s in Bangkok in 2012. Everyone is so helpful, which I think is an aspect of Thai culture in general.
After reading Kevin Ross’s journal on his 5th trip to Thailand, on the plane, I was completely inspired. He talked a lot about how Muay Thai saved his life or made it take a turn for the better and how he became 100% dedicated to the sport. As it has for me. For me though, fighting saved my life in a different way, literally and figuratively. For one, me being in such great shape saved my life in my car accident, but also my coming to Thailand, now for the second time, fixed me mentally and physically. I owe it all to my training and trainers, working hard to be my best, and my fearless independence to overcoming my own obstacles. Whatever stood in my way I faced it head on and overcame it. I couldn’t even raise my right hand when I first got out of the hospital. I was in a really bad place. I know I said this before, but half my body didn’t work. It was frustrating. Thailand really did put me all back together, made everything work correctly.
I have also discovered here I do really like teaching/helping and I discovered my future of personal training and teaching. 🙂 Which I will discuss in future blogs.
Scary Moment: I went to take my shower in the morning and noticed there was a huge spider in my bathroom 🙁 Not tarantula size but big enough, and I don’t know if they’re poisonous here. This is a thing you must look out for in the tropics. I’m not scared of much, but spiders terrify me. I tried to get it, but freaked out a little. So, I end up sitting on my bed afraid to go in the bathroom, because it’s on the wall by the door. Al at the office saved the day. I saw him outside and kindly asked him to help me out, and he came, and killed the bathroom spider swiftly. Whew 🙂
Visa Run – Your tourist visa is only good for a month in Thailand, so every month you have to leave the country and come back. I decided to make it a little more fun and go visit my friend Gregg in Penang, Malaysia. Malaysia is one hour ahead. The city is beautiful. It’s surprisingly cooler. Nice breezes. Had to hit HardRock of course. Great to have good old American fattening food 🙂 hung out by their gorgeous pool too. Another fun, relaxing pool at the Sand’s. Nice little relaxing vacay and then I went back.
Surf House Phuket: an outing organized by Al for the Phuket New Era Expats Group. The best way to describe it is a simulated way to surf. When the waves are out of reach, Surf House Phuket is the place for non-stop surf action, trendy music, food, lots of beverages, and right next to Kata beach, so you can enjoy the beach atmosphere while surfing the perfect wave.
Michael Harbone, (my first British crush – I have a thing for Brits 😉 ) that I met last year at Master Toddys, came down to spend a few days. Michael has been in Thailand for years, so he gave me a bit of advice about street food and how safe it is, because it is fresh. I saved a ton. I wish Michael had come earlier. He could have saved me heaps. He just automatically knows where to go or at least try – weird little places that I just walked by every day. We celebrated Michaels 25th Birthday. Went to an Irish Pub to start the night off, then off to the Playboy Bar in Laguna.
Nai Harn Beach: Beautiful Beach – Walking in the sand was hot, hot, hot. Had to put my flip flops back on. But, the ocean water felt good.
Big Buddha: It is a long drive up a mountain. Saw lots of elephants and monkeys on the way. It was interesting and fun.
Market: The prices are amazing, the foods amazing, and it’s close and convenient. They have everything and anything you may want.
Laundry Tip: Here it’s common to save your money and do your own washing by hand. Then, just putting it out in the heat to dry. Especially, because I trained and sweat so much you need fresh stuff every session, which adds up, and you can only pack so much. I was there for months.
Good Restaurants & Bars I frequented:
*Kallots (cheap and good). Chicken Pad Thai and peach iced tea, 1/2mile walk away.
*On The Grill Rawai. It’s similar to Buffalo Wild Wings in the US – Great food and drinks. They specialize in Fanta Shakes, which are amazing.
*The Playboy Bar in Laguna. But, it was tons of fun
Nicki Minaj (Starships, which I personally love) Reminds me of my Thailand experiences (Bangkok & Phuket)
And like Kevin Ross says: It’s not about the journey, it’s about the destination. Face your fears, live your dreams, take a chance 🙂