The question most received from friends and family. In March of 2011, I had my first international travel experience when I went to Paris, France for 10 days. I really didn’t have a good reason to go to Paris besides the fact that I found a good flight price and that my friend from college, who invited me, was there on business so I had a place to crash for free and someone to tour the city with.
This trip opened my eyes a bit. And afterwards, I was left with the desire to explore more of the world. I guess that’s kinda cliche’ but for me it’s true.
I’ve always been a semi-fan of martial arts, but it wasn’t until 2007 that I started studying Shotokan Karate. That’s when I became hooked on martial arts of all varieties (Karate, Jiu Jitsu, Judo, etc). Hooked on the physicality, the challenge, the pain.
Tiger Muay Thai
I first learned of Tiger Muay Thai from another real estate entrepreneur by the name of Colin Andrews Egbert. I was subscribed to his email updates for his website RealEstateInvestor.com and he would email from time to time about a specific technique or tidbit about business and he would usually save the end of the message to talk about his travels. Well, for quite some time he was in Thailand and studied Muay Thai at Tiger Muay Thai. It looked awesome. I hit him up on Facebook about it.
I did some Google’ing on Tiger Muay Thai and one of the first results I found was of the UFC president Dana White sporting a Tiger Muay Thai t-shirt during the UFC 128 weigh-ins. At that point, Tiger Muay Thai was completely legit to me.
Dana is totally popping a boner during that stare-down
I was sold
Before I knew it I was booking my flights, signing up for training on the Tiger Muay Thai website, and picking up my 60 day student Visa from the Thai consulate in Houston, Texas. By August of 2011, I actually went back to Europe but this time it was on a Contiki tour. And directly following that, I jetted off to Phuket, Thailand specifically to train in Muay Thai, compete in an amateur fight, and experience the shit out of the country and culture.
Land in Bangkok – Wednesday, August 24, 2011
I had a series of flights that took me from London-Amsterdam-Bangkok-Phuket. Once I landed in bangkok, I had to buy new connection on Air Asia because of a mishap at Heathrow. I was a bit salty. The new ticket only cost $80 but one missed flight also cost me one hotel stay. The flight from Bangkok to Phuket was only like an hour. Air Asia was quite unique. You could order food with your flight upon purchase. And I mean, hot food. This was definitely a new experience, especially for a one hour flight, but I passed on the food. And I’ll never understand how airlines make money on flights that are 1/3 full like this one was. I had a whole row of seats to lay out on.
Fresh off the plane in Phuket – Wednesday night
When I first got go Phuket, I was excited and timid at the same time. I was ready to get to the training camp and get situated especially since I had been on planes or in airports for like the last 24 hours. When I was walking towards to exit of the airport, it was hustle-man central. Everybody wanted your business as a taxi customer. I kinda already knew what I was looking for however. Since I was supposed to arrive the day prior, my arranged taxi via Tiger Muay Thai of course wasn’t going to be there. But, I had a feeling that due to the size of that gym, that they picked up students quite regularly. So once I got outside there was a barrage of more taxi drivers holding name-signs. And sure enough, I found a guy holding a destination “Tiger Muay Thai” sign with the names of two girls on it. I chatted him up and said that I needed to go there too and he said that he had the extra room. So, it was cool to at least split that cab ride 3 ways with 2 Australian girls. It would’ve otherwise been solo a day earlier.
My first impression of the city was HORRIBLE. The weather played a huge part in that. There were grey skies and plenty of rain. As we were riding in the cab, there were a ton of people zipping by us on scooters. It was clear that scooter-travel was extremely common here. The first things that struck me were a) how fast these little things went and b) that despite the wet conditions, folks just donned their ponchos and were riding anyway, some rode as many as 4 or 5 to a scooter and carried awkwardly sized objects otherwise inappropriate for a scooter, like ladders and mini-fridges. Seriously. Scooters + Thailand = Super unsafe. But I later learned quickly that to utter ‘safety’ and ‘Thailand’ in the same sentence is a definite oxymoron.
When I got to the gym, my first impression of it wasn’t the best either. Again, the weather played a huge part. As it was pouring rain on and off and night by this time. And it was evident that there weren’t many street lights around. It literally felt like I was in the middle of a jungle. But, I made it to the gym and got checked in at the main office. The folks in the office were super nice people and they got me squared away. There was one hiccup however and that was regarding my place of residence for the next 60 days. On their website, I had picked out this nice, reasonably priced spot that wasn’t far from the gym and was located above a 7-11 store. How convenient, I thought. But when I mention it in the office, they steered me away from it. They said that it was too far away and that there were good places nearby. At first, I felt like that was a little suspect but I took their suggestion for a little bungalow down the road. I hop in a taxi and go to check it out. Turns out it was isolated and down a dead-end road and not near anything. Then as soon as a step into the room it smells strongly of mothballs. Aw HELL naw. I hop right back into the cab and go back to the office to figure something else out. I tell them that I need something way nicer and closer. So then they pointed me to the Siam Hostel and tell me that construction on it had just finished like a month prior. I go to check it and I was like “now we’re talkin”.
First full day in Phuket (Thursday)
Could’nt make it to class on Thursday or Friday. I was jet lagged like a mofo. There was a 7 hour difference from London and Phuket, which had me all messed up and definitely not prepared for vigorous workouts. So, I just kinda chilled out with the laptop. Answered some emails and had a few skype meetings.
BBQ Beat Down #39. That’s really the name (Saturday)
I was impressed. This is a monthly event thrown by the school. It’s a night of amateur fights, music, BBQ, and drinks. The first match was a Muay Thai women’s match. This was the best fight all night IMO. These girls went so hard! I was definitely inspired. It’s funny how I told myself I wasn’t going to drink any alcohol while in Thailand. I planned to have a narrow focus on training hard, eating right, and no alcohol. But then I found out that the drinks were extremely cheap. So how could I pass up a sale?! Plus they had a DJ from Miami there who was jammin’. So I had to kick it. And I had it all figured out. Drink one-for-one. One mixed-drink. One water. I stuck to this all night. This would keep me hydrated and prevent a hangover. Done this many times before…
Toilet Day (Sunday)
So uhm…yeah. I lost count of my toilet visits on Sunday, that’s for sure. I may have set a new personal best. I had the BG’s (bubble guts) all day. More like all day and a half, really. I took me a while to trace down why…
It was the damn water cooler at the bar. Freaking tap water. I’ll be damned. I know better than that. My hydration plan backfired (pun intended). Note to self, if it ain’t in a sealed bottle then it’s Thai tap-water, also known as “complimentary Thai enema”.
First day of training (Monday)
These workouts are no joke. Lots of cardio and calisthenics. I started out in the beginner’s Muay Thai class which is 2.5 hours of a ton of cardio, some technique, and some sparring. I learned that my karate background is hindering me in muay thai. I have some habits to break if I want to fight this style correctly.
Bodyfit workout at the beach (Thursday)
Death workout. I think this was the hardest workout I’ve ever done in my life! And I’ve had some hard workouts. Start with stair warmup. Reverse monkey crawl up the stairs. Planks. Hill sprints. More planks. Drag a tire with a team all the way down a hill running, just over half mile. At the bottom, 100 jumping jacks, 50 leg scissors. Drag that bitch all the way back up the hill. This hill is SO steep by the way, like 30 degrees (if you were to ride a bike down it without pedaling, you’d at least be going 40 mph. That steep). Get to the top of the hill. 100 air squats. Then 50 lunges. The payoff was a dip in the ocean at the beach. Warm water, big waves. That water felt SO good.
Here’s a vid that shows a similar workout sequence to what we did (we had less beach work, more hill work).
Run to Big Buddha (Friday)
On the island of Phuket, one of the main attractions is the Big Buddha statue at the top of one of the larger hills in the area. Many fighters at Tiger would choose to run up this thing. My first trip to it, it seemed doable for sure. Then as our taxi neared the base of it, me and another fighter, Jack chose to walk up the hill and run down. This turned out to be a great idea for our first time. Even walking up was tiring. This hill is ridiculously steep at points and about 3 miles from the bottom to the top. But once at the top, there was an amazing view of the island which was a cool reward. A short-lived one as we had to get amped to run down. Which probably isn’t the best thing for your knees. But whatever, we did it anyway. Then we ended up running the extra 3 miles back to the camp from the base of Big Buddha, versus taxiing back. Pure exhaustion afterwards.
Patong Beach Night-Life. WTF (Saturday)
So Saturday evening I ventured out with some other fighters to go checkout Patong. We took a Tuk Tuk taxi on a 30 minute surprisingly uneventful ride. Turns out all Tuk Tuk rides would be “surprisingly uneventful”. You could catch an atheist praying to Jesus before getting in those things. After the ride from the mobile sardine-can a.k.a death-trap, we hop out and my first few statements went something like this…”what’s that smell?”…”nice boobs, but she’s got an adam’s apple”…”no I don’t want to buy any”…”Ping Pong show?”…”Hell Naw, I don’t want to see that”…”Well if the cover is only 100 baht, you got yourself a deal”.
About the infamous Ping-Pong show. Uhm…yeah. It was an “experience” to say the least. So we walk in there and the place just looks like the shadiest of strip clubs. I mean straight out of a movie. There were like 3 Thai girls on one stage, with 3 poles, and the stage had seating on both sides.
So, we have a seat and a waitress comes and takes a drink order and for a moment, it didn’t seem like it was different from any other regular strip club. But then before you knew it a few additional girls came on stage and one had a fishbowl. Let’s just say that at one moment there wasn’t a fish in it and then one was shot into it. The following tricks had to do with a bird-cage and a bird, a string with nails tied to it, darts and balloons. Sooooooo Yeah. I think each one of us left out of there a different man.
After the ping-pong show, we needed to rehydrate. We go to the bar for some beverages. It turns out that these bar girls were super aggressive to get you to buy drinks from their bar. Literally, they would grab on your arms, tug on your shirt. I hated that shit. Maybe that’s cool if you’re sex tourist with low self-esteem. I’m not that dude. And then I noticed that there were no regular women in sight. Most were prostitutes, bar-girls, or ladyboys. And I was paranoid about my drink getting spiked (I’ve heard of women doing this to men, then robbing them). I thought Amsterdam was a crazy place. I think Patong Beach in Phuket wins by a nose.
Cobra blood (Sunday)
We went to a cobra snake park, not necessarily to see snakes. But to drink cobra blood. Literally, that was the whole point in going. I and some other fighters had talked about it casually on Saturday. But then, just the next day one of the girls tells me she had found a place. It was on. I started to have second thoughts though. I mean how do you explain that if something goes wrong without looking SO stupid? Exactly. I don’t think it’s possible.
The thing is, supposedly this practice is illegal. So the whole operation was kind of underground. I pulled out my Flip camcorder and they say not to video tape any of their faces. I started to doubt their credibility. Thoughts in my mind were like “how many times have they done this?” And, “does the preparer really know what he’s doing? How do I know he didn’t get some of the cobras’ venom into my cup?”
So we go into the place and sit in the same area that spectators watch the snake shows from. We took some hard liquor to mix with our cobra shots. Apparently this was suggested. So we were waiting and I had started sipping a bit. Shit. Why not? After all, I needed some liquid-courage to do this.
Next thing you know, they’re slaughtering two cobras behind the scenes. By the time any of us noticed, it was already over pretty much. We all wanted to see that go down. But we were able to catch the end of it. So it seems, they string up the snake by it’s neck and then make a long vertical incision down it’s belly and pretty much let it bleed to death. Gnarly. They set aside the hearts from the snakes which continued to beat for quite a while. And then they poured the blood across 5 shot glasses and we completed the mix with the help of Mr. Jack Daniels. It was about a 1 to 1 mix.
Everyone else took their shots like a G. I was SO paranoid afterwards. It shows, right? I was just waiting for the venom that dripped into my shot to go to work dissolving my insides. I waited for like 5 minutes before I started to relax. It was quite the experience though. The taste? Uhm…kinda like what your mouth tasted like for the first 3 minutes when you lost a tooth as kid. Then mix that flavor with some Tennessee whiskey. And there you have it.
There were a lot of new students who arrived over the weekend, thus making class about 35 people large versus the normal 15 or so from last week. We had normal class, went thru all of the same motions and exercises. There’s usually about a 20 minute jog warm-up, followed by punch/kick/elbow drills, followed by some pad work and bag work. And depending on the day there will be some sparring. Here’s where class took a turn. There was this one kid, claims he didn’t speak much English, only Dutch. That’s fine. However some of his buddies that he came with spoke English. So the class is instructed to spar at about 10% power.
The whole point in sparring at 10% is to get comfortable with an opponent in front of you, try new combos, practice blocks, etc. But this dude didn’t get the translation and starts coming at me with all he had. I’m like WTF. I stop him, and tell him to calm down. Motioning my hands as if someone was telling you to slow down. He nods his head as if he understood, then we trade a few exchanges, and soon enough he starts swinging for the fences again.
At this point I’m starting to get mad. So I’m like what do I do? Some would say, “hit him as hard as he’s hitting you”. Which I can agree with. Because that’s sends the message loud and clear. However, I knew that an unnecessary injury would totally defeat my purpose on being there. So then I’d be looking dumb watching folks train and limping around camp. So, I tell him again and dude gets frustrated and leaves the ring going on a Dutch gibberish rant. His friend translates and says that he was hitting me as hard as I was kicking him. Dude was full of shit.
Turns out this dude was just being a douche to more than just me. None the less I was still pissed off. Dude had my jaw clicking for the rest of the day. I was reminded of him every time I ate. I wanted to fight him at 100% after that.
There was some good in this. The first week I got caught up in much of the partying and other distractions on this island. After whatshisface, I was reminded of what I’m here for. I partied for two weeks straight in Europe before I got here. Now it’s time to work. I’m cutting out SOME of the fried foods and alcohol. Stepping up the trainings. It’s on.
Big buddha run (Wednesday)
Today I ran to the big Buddha hill and ran up it, with no stops and no walking, with was a huge feat for me, let me tell you. The road that goes up this mountain is literally 45 degrees in some parts, at least close to it. I don’t think they’d ever build a road like that back In the states. Not practical/safe. After a brief break at the peak, I ran down. Once I got home from this, the massage I got was EXCELLENT (and I mean that in my Simpsons, “Mr. Burns” voice)
Couldn’t Do It (Thursday)
Six AM came and went, my body wouldn’t let me train today. I need a day off, then I’ll hit Friday and Saturday hard again. That Buddha run is what did it. Definitely need more time to recover. And what sucks is that I’m tired of watching tv. And the Internet is so shoddy it’s a joke. So that means no YouTube entertainment unless you want to endure the 10 minutes of buffering required to watch a 4 minute video. And what really sucks is I can’t watch MTV.com or VH1.com or Hulu.com because they only allow you to watch when inside of the US. I even tried a proxy ip. That doesn’t trick it for some reason. Summamabitch! The only channels on Thai TV in English is Fox news, BBC news, and 2 movie channels that play the same 6 movies 24-7. I stopped watching the news about 5 years ago and I’ve already seen all of these flicks on the movie channels. I’m hitting the beach. There is absolutely nothing else to do.
Not a ladyboy in sight. I think. (Saturday)
I trained pretty hard today. Had a personal one hour session with one of my trainers and afterwards attended a group session. I had a business Skype appointment for 7pm. That didn’t work out too well. First off, the Internet at my room is horrible and plus my MacBook has been acting up lately. I think the maid knocked it off my nightstand and put it back like ain’t shit happen. The maids that clean my room every day are a bit odd. Sometimes when they’re cleaning and you approach them, seeing them before they see you, you can catch them doing some stuff like rummaging through your things. Taking a sip out of your juice you had in your fridge (I’m not making that up, I really did catch a maid doing that in someone else’s room). Crazy
So after thirty minutes of attempts and reboots for the meeting, I gave up and went to a BBQ at a new bar that opened up down the street. I told myself that I wasn’t going to drink while I was here…yeah. That isn’t going so well. A few beers never hurt anyone, right.
So after (a few) beers and group shots, we went to Patong. This 2nd visit was WAY better because we actually found some cool places with cool music without the ladyboys and prostitutes everywhere. Well, at least they weren’t as obvious tonight. Got home at 5 am. I guess it was a good night.
Chill day (Sunday)
Very surprised that I woke up at noon today (this is early granted the night before). Got some breakfast and then hung out in a restaurant across the street from where I stay with some other fighters all day long. Literally. We were just hanging out and cracking jokes long enough to order lunch and dinner from the same table.
We spent most of the day making fun of each other. Including me there was two Americans, two Brits, and one Australian. The accents and the different slang, provided for too many jokes.
It was raining all day today so there was nothing else to do anyway. The forecast says that there is nothing but rain for the next few days.
Later, I went out and got sushi with a thai lady who has a bar down the street from me. Real cool peoples. And she taught me some thai. So now my thai vocab consists of like 10 words. If I learn enough, I’ll be able to know when folks are talking about me. I hate not knowing.
Bad day (Tuesday)
Went hard at tiger today. Did one hour of body fit. Followed by a 2.5 hour class. That’s the good part of the day. The bad news is that my effing MacBook had been acting up for the last two days.
So I took it to the apple store in the mall (yes, I was surprised to find one too) and they tell me that the hard drive is fried. This will set me back about $150 for a new hard drive with osx installed.
This isn’t the bad part.
The bad part is that although I used mozy backup to the cloud, I hadn’t had it long enough for it to backup all of my stuff. It was still running the initial backup. So what this means is that I have a ton of video and pics from Europe, that are gone forever. No use in crying over spilled milk, right. But that was some good last-of-the-cereal-bowl milk!
Feeling Good (Wednesday)
Good news.I checked my mozy account and many of my europe vids and pics where saved. Only lost like 20% of my files. I’ll take it.
Training was good today, I feel myself getting stronger. Although it’s very easy to overtrain here. There are sessions from 7 to 7. I try to do only two to three and call it a day. So that would be from 3 to 4.5 hours of training. In my opinion that’s a lot and I think that’s a cool max to have. Anything more may be counterproductive.
I wasn’t really in bad shape when I first got here, but now that I’ve been here a couple of weeks, I can definitely feel my body changing. The main change being that my pelvis bone feels noticeable sharper now. This must be due to the reduction in fat around it. Also, my core just feels tighter overall. One night, a girl randomly asked me to take my shirt off and pose in a pic with her. I ain’t never had that happen.
I checked out a muay thai fight tonight in Patong at Bangla Stadium. There were some pretty good matches. I seem to pick-up something new each time I watch a match.
Today I really wanted to take it easy. I’m starting to feel like five days of training per week is a good balance for me. So I only did one private session of muay thai. Then I chilled out the rest of the day.
From the first week I expressed that I wanted to fight. I was told today that I’m to fight at the next “BBQ Beatdown” fight night hosted by Tiger Muay Thai once a month. The funny thing is I’ve started to isolate myself more socially. This is because chances are I’ll be fighting someone I know. It would be more difficult for me to really ‘go-at’ someone I’m cool with.
Cheap Massages (Friday)
Today was pretty tough. Two privates and a body fit session. I’m wrecked. Its massage time, foe real. Man, I’m going to miss these cheap massages when I’m back in America ($10 max). When getting a massage, dude next to me was getting his legs waxed. He said that it didn’t hurt. I felt like that completely went against the grain of the stigma. So I got my arms waxed just to see how it felt. Uhhhm yeah. Let’s just say it didn’t feel ‘good’.
Tonight I’m going with one of my trainers to a fight at one of stadiums nearby. There’s like 4 Muay Thai stadiums in the area I think. Should be interesting. He says one of his friends is fighting. Should be sort of like a class field trip.
Patong Beach…again (Saturday)
The fights last night were pretty good. I’m glad I went. Was able to study the culture of Muay Thai a bit more. And there definitely a culture. Like for example, every fight is 5 rounds. If both fighters know there is a clear winner, they won’t really fight during the fifth round. They kind of take a stance in front of each other and tap gloves multiple times until the bell rings to end the fight. I don’t understand this completely, because if your behind in points you could still win by knock out.
Went out to Patong beach again tonight, to celebrate with some peeps who are leaving soon. I think I had at least 12 beers that whole night. We club hopped and etc. Hilarious night. And sticking to beer was a great idea as I don’t really get drunk drinking them. Perhaps because I don’t binge drink beers? Or maybe my tolerance is sky-high by this point? IDK
Had an interesting cab ride on the way back. One of the guys hung his head out the window in the front seat to upchuck, while we were moving. And randomly all three of us in the back seat experienced what felt like rain drops. But it wasn’t water. Uhm…yeah.
When we got back home, we had to argue with the cab driver a bit. Dude wanted us to pay extra because there was some “spillage” on the inside of the passenger-side door. At first I was like, “Sorry-foya! That’s what happens when you pick up some drunks.” But then we had to do the right thing and pay him the extra fee for clean-up funds. Besides, a tourist in a cash dispute with a cab driver often ends in a visit to jail, so I’m told. And I don’t want NO parts of Thai jail…I’ve seen plenty episodes of “Locked-up abroad”. No dice.
Beer Belly (Sunday)
Not much of a hangover, but I still feel those beers in my stomach. Training today was shit. No energy.
Still Feeling Beers (Monday)
Woke up sore today. Wished I didn’t train on Sunday. Should’ve took the day off. Had no energy today again. I think the alcohol is still affecting me. That’s it. No more drinking until after my fight. now it’s completely clear to me why fighters lay off the booze when training.
Tired of It (Tuesday)
I don’t feel like doing anything today. But I’ll go today and get it over with. My feet are sore from kicking pads like everyday. It’s starting to add up. And I tweaked my wrist a bit a while ago from a punch at the wrong angle. Everyday, I just keep re-aggravating it.
And on top of that I’m kind of bummed that some of the cool people that I’ve been hanging out with are all leaving. Feels like contiki all over again. You meet great folks and then they’re gone. Chances are you’ll never see them again. Definitely not all at once. Whelp. At least there is facebook.
Knee’d in the Nads (Wednesday)
Training today I knee’d my trainer square in the balls. Total accident. Felt helpless as I watched him grimace in pain on the mat. This was during a clinching exercise. I learned today that Im horrible at it. Dude tossed me down like 10x.
I felt like I had no energy today. Can’t figure out what it is. I think I’m not eating enough and hydrating enough. Another fighter also mentioned to add electrolytes to my water. Which is a great idea. I’ll get some from the pharmacy tomorrow.
I injured my trainer again today. This time it was from another clinching exercise where I threw him bad. I had his leg trapped behind mine when I threw him. His knee is now jacked up. Felt like an ass again. Dude was really pissed, he would barely look at me when I attempted to apologize. That’s all I could do though.
I found out after the fact that it was an illegal throw. The good part about training here is that the majority of the trainers are thai. The bad part about this place is that the majority of the trainers are thai. Many can speak just enough English to tell you when to kick, punch, knee, block. But if you wanted a detailed explanation about a technique, rule, or strategy. You better learn thai. Or else your just going to struggle thru communicating like I’ve been.
Substitute Teacher (Friday)
Today I had a different trainer fill in for the one I injured. I still feel like a douche. We had a good session. I was reminded of how it’s good and bad to have multiple trainers because they’ll teach you different techniques and most will emphasis their favorites, however some of their techniques will conflict.
Trained Solo (Saturday)
One of my trainers cancelled today. So I spent that hour just working on my footwork and doing some shadowing. The muay thai style is still so foreign to me. I keep wanting to end up in a karate stance that I’m used to. I’m slowly coming along.
I was supposed to do some light sparring with another student today. But he cancelled on me to go play mini golf. So…plan B was to do some shadow boxing and go for a run, but then I just felt it’d be better to take a full day off and not do anything. And that was the best decision ever. I just chilled out and watched a bunch of movies on tv. Then at night went to Big C (kinda like Walmart). And got some shopping in for stuff I’ve been needing to get. I hadn’t had a full day off in like two weeks.
Found Energy (Monday)
I felt like a million bucks today. That day off helped a lot, and plus I picked up some Kraetang Dang (it’s what Red Bull derived from, way more syrupy with no carbonation) from Big C. I think drinking that a half hour before my workouts is giving me my mojo back also. I’m glad this is working.
Pre-Fight Day (Friday)
Had an easy day today, only one training session. Just worked on some blocks and did some shadowing. My trainer rubbed me down with some stuff that felt like liquid fire. Seriously, in think it was prescription strength IcyHot mixed with Dragon snot. I was just praying that I didn’t accidentally scratch my balls or my eye after contaminating my hands with that stuff. To anyone who’s ever accidentally did that with even just IcyHot…you know what I’m talking about.
But anyway, after my one session, I’ve just been chilling out in the room, laughing my ass off to Ricky Gervias clips on YouTube. Just chillaxing, trying to keep my mind clear.
BBQ Beatdown #40 (Saturday)
Today I laid around all day. Didn’t do too much. My trainer said to just chill out today. So I just ate and laid around, got a massage and did not much else. The fights started at around 8:30. I got over to camp by six.
So I just chilled,taped myself up, zoned out to my iPod. Warmed up with some shadowing and got on the stationary bike.
My videographer showed up. I almost forgot that I hired him.
Then one of my trainers arrived at 7. He was mad when he saw me dripping with sweat from the stationary bike. He felt like I was expending too much energy. It was kind of funny, how upset he was. This is because he had money riding on me.
So around 8.30 he started to oil me up with the extra spicy boxing oil again.
Its time to go to the ring and I’m having a whirl wind of emotions. I can’t believe I’m doing this. There’s no turning back now. Plus I aint no punk about my shit. If I lose, I’ma go in there like a man and lose. But still, ‘volunteering’ to fight takes a lot of strength. I was SO nervous.
I step in the ring. Samart (white shirt) tells me no matter what, win or lose, show that you got heart and you win all the same. He places a Mong Kon on my head, it is a head dress worn by Muay Thai fighters prior to a match when Wai Khru Ram Muay is performed. Wai Khru Ram Muay is a warm-up ritual that is performed to show respect to your instructors and Buddha. You can walk to the four corners of the ring before going into an extensive Wai Khru Ram Muay. I just walk to all four corners of the ring and send up a prayer each time…to Jesus that is (as he’s my homeboy). Nothing against those that favor Buddha. Just prayed for me to do my best, to keep me and my opponent safe from injury, for victory, and to stay relaxed. No extensive Wai Khru Ram Muay from me.
We touch gloves and it’s on. I try to stay calm, but I want to attack his leg immediately. This is my game plan. My main focus is to leg-kick the shit out of this dude. This plan had nothing to do with me seeing his knee brace. But please believe, I’m using that insight against him now that I see it. We trade a few blows and before I know it round one is over.
I go back to my corner and Samart (white shirt) and Sowat (black shirt) trainers are both talking as fast as the micro-machine man and at the same time. I’m barely listening. I’m just trying to concentrate on catching my breath. But from what I did listen too, they basically tell me to keep up the leg kicks.
I’m like cool. I can do that.
This round didn’t fly by like te first. But honestly, it was all a blur. An exhausting blur.
The round ends and I go back to my corner. Both trainers tell me to go for more body kicks and lay off the leg kicks (body kicks score more points). I’m tired as shit. So tired I can barely drink the water.
Last round, I’m focused on not dropping my hands and opening myself to a knockout. Half way thru the round my opponent starts dry heaving. The ref tends to him with a standing eight count. I’m so hoping this is over. I’m SO tired.
The ref calls the fight. TKO. I win. Aaaw yeah. Sweet sweet victory. It feels so good.
Both of my trainers were pretty happy too. During Muay Thai matches, there’s a ton of betting going down. I won them both a nice sum of cash. I’m still waiting on my check…lol.
I’ve got the entire fight below, the footage starts with me getting taped up after the oil rub in one of the extra rings.
I talk with my opponent. Turns out he’s a cool dude. He said that he was out of gas by the third round. I said I was too. He said that was hard for him to believe because he saw me run around camp everyday. Psychologically that may have played a part in my win. This is why a few weeks before my fight, I didn’t like talking to anyone about the fight. And I definitely didn’t pay attention to watching dude train. I wasn’t trying to psych myself out. But anyway, afterwards we have a beer together and check out some of the other fights.
I go home and shower. It’s time to party now. There were a few vans worth of people going to Patong. I hop in one. I swear I don’t even like that place. Patong Beach reminds me of a worse Amsterdam which is a worse Vegas. It’s that sinful and filthy. But none the less, we still partied and had a BLAST.
I officially consider this one of the best nights of my life.
The next 30-days (POST-post fight)
I’m still training, but it’s not the same. I don’t really have the drive anymore to train really hard. Now, I’m just doing it for fitness and overall education of the art. I thought about taking another fight in like 3 weeks, the next one being not so amatuer and being in Bangla Stadium. A fight there would be 5 rounds versus 3 and no shin guards, and oh yeah…those viscous Muay Thai elbows would be allowed.
I was tempted to do it. But then I thought about how another 3 weeks of training real hard with the cloud of another fight over my head, would kill all of the fun that I could have over the next month. I didn’t want my entire Thailand experience to be inside of a ring. Besides, I have no ambitions to go pro at this anyway.
You probably want to know how bad this hurt the pockets right. Here’s the breakdown.
I stayed in a bungalow with air conditioning, TV, mini-fridge, daily maid service, with community swimming pool. This was one of the better accommodations, was about 400 meters from camp, and cost me 16,000 baht per month.
For Tiger Muay Thai, I got the gym meal plan along with the training. With the gym meal plan, you were allotted 2 meals per day, 7 days per week. The menu was a selection of Thai and “western” food (steak, spaghetti, etc). And for the training, I had the package which included all classes. These two items together ran 17,000 baht per month. And in addition to the class training, over the course of the 2 months, I had about 40 private 1-hour trainings for around 11,000 baht per month.
Add in laundry service, Patong nights, Death-trap AKA tuk-tuk fare, and so on. And the costs for the extras ran about another 10,000 baht per month.
With the approximate conversion of 30 Thai Baht to $1 USD.
The sum of 16k + 17k + 11k + 10k = 54k baht/30 = $1,800/month
I will say that you could definitely get by for a lot less. And I mean a lot less. You could probably visit and have a good experience by spending only half as much as I did.
Thailand is a pretty inexpensive place to visit. And one thing that I noticed about myself is that because everything was so cheap there, you tend not to save and make up for it by buying more and more often. I literally was getting 1-hour massages daily at one point…at only $6-$10 each, I almost had to.
My experience in Phuket, Thailand at Tiger Muay Thai was fantastic. I learned a lot and got in great shape. And due to TMT’s global appeal, I met a ton of really cool people from a variety of countries. I’m planning to go back in the near future. And when I go back, I’ll definitely not party so hard (maybe), check out some areas off the tourist trails, and step-it-up a bit and fight at Bangla Stadium.
Eustaquio Santimano , williamcho ,K Tao via photopin cc
Don't Just Read and Leave. Share Your Thoughts.
Cleta Rodgers says
Awesome trip! All I can say is WOW! to the whole experience & keep doing it. I enjoyed the read
Justin McClelland says
Glad you liked it Cleta. I’m def going to do my best to keep doing it. That’s for sure.
Gcina Marcollin Nkau says
I like how you tell your story.
Justin McClelland says
I appreciate the compliment
Wow, i was thinking of going there myself. And I will, seems like an amazing experience. You also have a Karate background and started beginner, so will I!
Justin McClelland says
Go for it! You won’t regret it, it’s an amazing facility in an amazing location!
Was a really good read been thinking of going to tiger to train for awhile I’m in Australia at the moment, awesome reading about Thailand experience in general too! In regards to accomodation why not stay at tiger? Was it cheaper to stay at a place that was close but outside of tiger?
Justin McClelland says
For accommodations, in my opinion, the better options where just a short walk away from Tiger. It’s cheapest to stay on-site at Tiger, however it was nice to be able to get away from all of the goings-on when not training. Tiger is a campus that is filled with people training from sun-up to sun-down on a daily basis.
Cheers for the response :), I definitely see what you mean, any times of the year you recommend not to go over Thailand ? You have plans to go anytime soon lol?