Bye Koh Phangan & Muay Thai, bye friends!

Three weeks on Koh Phangan are up. It didn’t play out as planned, as injury forced an early end to my Muay Thai training plans and while I enjoyed other aspects of island life … i am happy to move on now and look forward to seeing more of Thailand. Next stop is Krabi.

I do, however, leave many new friends behind. People that I spent some serious quality in time with in the camp, at Pae Pae’s (here some live action), crazy psy trance parties or exploring the islands (in all its colours ;o). I have come to realise that this time is rare … I mean how often do you get to spend a day with a good old friend (now that all have family etc) … not to mention a week or two or three. Its fantastic.

Diversity rocks! The people i met come in all shapes and sizes. Some are craftsmen on a break, some are junkies (not true, but just to make sure Ricky doesn’t feel left out), some grow marijuana (second farmer i met in 3 month), some sell sunglasses on a ferry and love to dance (& talk), many believe in conspiracy and educated me on climate engineering, some grow their own food & hide gold in their garden … you just cant make it up. 

Diamond Muay Thai – review: It’s not easy to give a full review with partial training. Loved the people and atmosphere in the camp. Good trainers too. Didn’t like the dogs everywhere (and dirty ones at that), noisy bungalows (hard to sleep even after 4h workout) that are aslo a fetile breeding ground for all sort of funghi (my black belt turned into a moudly blue after 3w!) and think they should really reconsider if sparring for beginners is wise – I estimate some 10-20% of folks got injured and missed training. It’s also too crowded. You literally have space limitations. Would probably pick another gym next time though it will remain a great experience. 

Less training, more time to go out: I tried to train a little, but after a few sessions had to true up. Just doesn’t feel right with a broken toe. Instead i spent time watching quite a few documentaries (from climate engineering to detective Poirot), many late nights in camp with/without movies & xxx, another fight night this time at our gym (again, most fights don’t go the full distance … see here for a great summary video), some good time out with Elisa (thanks for excellent visit at your friends), Ricky (we laughed a lot that night & dance like 18!) Kevin (good luck for ya fight dude … immer wieder Oesterreich) & co, a long night with Frits (see you in holland, get well soon … and take it easy!) and some excellent island exploring with Jason helped by some excellent special juice we picked up in another boxing gym (of all places) – best last day ever. Switch on the colours and go out to meet the world man! Its worth every moment. 

Time to move on, but time unforgotten. Hope to see you guys all very soon. If not in this life, then in a 7eleven over beer & BBQ chips ;o)

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Injury strikes early

Before coming to Thailand, my main concern was always to get injured. I remember it well from my preparations to climb Mt. Lhotse last year. Back then it was typically running related. Sadly, injury didn’t wait long here as I fractured my big toe during sparring. 3w off the doctor recommended though I still do light training here and there with focus on the upper body. Aside from that the last week was also quite eventful.

 

Monday we went to Koh Samui to extend my visa beyond the 30d initial period (pretty painless I have to say). While I didn’t get to see the beach there, it seems the island is much busier than here (probably due to the airport). Koh Phangan seems more relaxed. Good times together with Jason (also injured after he fell badly on his back during sparring) and Elisa as well as her friend (both from Finland).

 

I also went back to see the Chinese temple given  my camera didnt work the first time round and got to chat a bit to fellow boxer Mercedes from Spain whi hadn’t done much sightseeing during her stay (its easy to get stuck in a train – eat – sleep routine here).

 

Koh Phangan’s fruit shakes … tasty!

The fruit shakes on the island are outstanding and at c1USD pretty cheap. If you need some inspiration … there should be plenty on the menu of my favorite shop right on Koh Phangan’s food market.

 

And then it was fight night with Holly and two trainers representing Diamond Muay Thai gym. 2 victories and one defeat – not bad. Admittedly, its a fairly brutal sport. Out of 6 fights, three fighters had plenty of blood in their face and four fights didn’t go the full, five round distance.

The weekend showed the island a bit more from its party side as we headed out Friday to celebrate a few Danish birthdays and Saturday the beachside house of Elisa’s friend. Nice spot and some great times altogether … be it a little exhausting at times.

 

Hello Thailand & Koh Phangan: Muay Thai training begins

Pretty eventful the time in Thailand so far. Looking forward to spending another month here and improve fitness and my Muay Thai skills. 

NYE in Bangkok: Given the late arrival from Bahrain (9pm) things had to work out should I want to make it to my NYE party. They did, with immigration and luggage picked up swiftly as well as a speedy new SIM card (still can’t believe that BT mobile is allowed to charge clients GBP5/MB roaming … thieves!). My hotel was in the area Sukhumvit, as recommended by friend & DJ of the night Tim. By 11pm and freshly showered (what a pleasure after this long journey) I made it to ‘Mango Tree on the river’ restaurant on which rooftop we would meet the new year.

It didn’t take long for me meet up with Jan & his friends. I met Jan briefly in London some years back, but we had our last night out many years ago in HK. Facebook helped to discover that we are both in BKK for NYE. Much to talk about! The party was good and the location offered some great views over Bangkok and its rivers though I understand last year there was more fireworks visible. Once we had all greeted 2018, Jan’s girlfriend left … giving us the time to go out for a walk and talk on the way. It didn’t take long until we stumbled into a Buddhist celebration, enjoyed a ride on the Tuk-Tuk and a last beer before Jan called it quits. I continued to explore the city for a while after though was surprised that just few bars (other than the infamous go-go bars) were open late on NYE. 

Not having slept in a proper bed since my last night in London meant that I didn’t see much of the daylight on new years day, but finally made it into the buzzing streets of Bangkok in the afternoon. I stayed mainly in the Sukhumvit area (expat dominated & expensive) and enjoyed some good banter with a few lads outside an Irish pub (the toilet of which boast with really funny scriptures, see below). There was Al (a 51y resident of Bangkok, originally from the US, brought mass mailings to Thailand) and there was John (working in BKK for 6mth, also US) and a bit later was a Scottish guy (professional caddy as it was). Al was the funniest of them all. He could not only do the Michael Jackson dance, but also perform the Superman (happy to show to anyone as & when we meet ;o). Over a few beers we discussed quite a range of things from running styles to (very strange) sexual preferences of Japanese girls as reported by our Scottish caddy. Proper boys round I guess. Later at night we hit the Nana area with plenty of bars and life music. Needless to say … it got pretty late again. On the way home I even managed to enjoy some Thai strreetfood with one of the many ladyboys … 

Getting to Koh Phangan: Initially I wanted to go to the island by night train to Surat Thani and then a ferry. However, tickets were sold out and hence I got myself a late flight into Surat Thani. The night in the airport hostel was lets say practicable be it not overly nice and very disorganised. Thai people can take a lot of time to do their things. Early morning back to the airport and onto a bus for 90mins after which a speed ferry takes you to Koh Samui (2h) and then Koh Phangan (30min). All in for 500THB, not bad. 

May Thai Training begins: At the pier it was pretty busy, as many partygoers returned from the monthly full moon party (for which the island is known). The Diamond Muay Thai gym and camp is only a 10-15min walk away from the pier. I skipped the taxi option and carried my stuff the short way … which under the blazing sun turned into my first training session I guess. At the camp some private training was in progress and the check in to my bungalow very straightforward. My new home for four weeks. Basic as can be without toilet, shower or A/C (and with a funky, pink moquito net ;o). Next to the camp is the kitchen with its fruit bar and laundry service.

Muay Thai sessions are held twice a day (except Sundays) at 8-10am & 4-6pm and you can opt for additional yoga and fitness classes each day (if you can manage). I joined the afternoon session and despite my preparation in Colombia it was a tough one, but so rewarding once you are done. Fitness will come through step by step over the coming weeks. Altogether I managed to squeeze in 5 sessions this week (and one yoga) before taking Saturday and Sunday off nursing some smaller injuries on both feet and my knee.

New friends & training partners: There loads of people coming and going here all the time. Many stay for a month and so time will overlap for a bit longer. So far I had some deeper conversations with Stefan (Germany) & Jason (AUS) – both conspiracy guys as well as with Frits from Holland who joined me on my Sunday temple tour. In general you find many German, Dutch, Russian, Swedish, Australian and British folks in our camp. I really enjoy the positive atmosphere – be it during training or over post training meals. 

Exploring the island: Last week I managed to see a few places. Having a scooter really helps and is good fun to take a ride around. First up Mae Haad beach with its land bridge to Ko Ma island, then a temple tour with Frits on Sunday (Chinese temple, Wat Phu Khao Noi, Wat Pho) and the Phaeng waterfall. Many places offer great views over the island. I also visited the food market several times (there are actually a few, but one is more permanent in the centre and offers great food at low prices). On Saturday Stefan had a go at the insects offered at the food market near the pier. I tried some sort of bug – not that bad, but nothing to get too excited about either. We rounded up the week with a visit to one of the sunset bars – Top Rock bar – on Sunday. Great vibes, great views, great time.