06 Dec Sawatdee to Thailand
The Journey to Thailand – To be able to get to Koh Tao in time to meet the others, we had to make a mission of 3 flights and an overnight stay from Indonesia to get there. From Komodo islands were flew back to Bali.. with about an hour to spare, cutting it fine to catch the flight to Kuala Lumpur. Thankfully no delays and we were the last ones to check in. After reaching Kuala Lumpur, we had an overnight stay with a flight to catch at 8a.m the next day. Guess what we have for Dinner… Kuala Lumpur Airport hosts our famous Nando’s!!! GET IN!!!.. we then caught our flight the next morning, only to just arrive in SuraThani in time to catch the last 4 hour ferry to Koh Tao. Finally we made it, with the lads keeping a beer ready for us.
1. Meeting Cousins, Friends, Family from Home – Arriving in Koh Tao, most of the boys had already arrived, so now there was about 10 of us together… Carnage was about to be unleashed over the coming weeks.
2. Advanced Scuba Diving Course – Four years ago I got my Openwater licence at Phoenix Divers in Koh Tao.. and as they were soo good, I recommended all the boys to do it here and also for me to get my Advanced Licence to be able to dive 30 metres. Funnily enough, the instructor names, Klaus who i was taught by 4 years ago became the teacher for the rest of the gang. The dives were pretty amazing, practiced my Buoyancy skills and went through a ShipWreck. I think my love for Scuba diving has come back! The rest of the gang were on the same boat as me but doing their dives at 18metres, I believe they all loved the experiences albeit having a few sea sickers puking over the edge of the boat and some blocked ears. A few Trigger fish seen along the way in which Pav could have been in his words “Killed” by one heading towards him. Pav also seemed to have lost his regulator and thought he was about to Drown, but all in all a great experience for the guys. I think another Scuba trip is on the cards one day.
3. Thai Food – The food on Koh Tao was just sooo delicious.. Spring Rolls (In which Pav has gotta be Spring rolled out by now, as he ordered them for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner)… Thai Green Curry and Pad Thai to die for.. and for soooo little money. Beers were flowing on Tap as they are ridiculously cheap for a big bottle of Chang. Me and Veron also opted to try the deep fried Scorpion… you can’t leave a country without trying the local delicacies right..? My stomach must be full of all sorts by now including a bamboo worm.
Koh Phanghan (Full Moon Party)
1. Full Moon Party – So tonight was the night! In the daytime we wondered around and shopped for our full moon t-shirts. We opted for all going for a bright orange top and bright green shorts.. and of course the array of neon paints. Also decided to buy myself a nice “real” pair of bright green Ray Bans or Ray Brans or were they called Bray Rans…who knows.. but hey i thought they looked cool. After painting ourselves up, enjoying a KFC from across the road and starting on the beers and whiskey.. we headed in a long road trip in only what i can call an army style looking trucks towards Haad Rin Beach.. the Full Moon Location. Music Pumping away, everyone in Bright colours and all kitted out with paints.. first stop 11 Samseung Whiskey, coke and Anphetamine Full Red Bull BUCKETS Please… And so it begins. Fire Dancers around, Fire skipping Ropes being swung across with only the idiotic giving it a try and ending up with burn marks across their legs.. Fire Limbo.. again nice and safe with a 12 year old boy lighting up the limbo stick with a water bottle fueled with petrol. Crowds everywhere outside 20 plus bars that have a range of music for everyone. Everyone enjoying themselves loaded up from bucket after bucket after bucket. I believe we saw the moon through the clouds and then were still there for sunrise.. so a pretty successfully night.. and we didn’t lose anyone!
2. Waterfalls – We took a trip to the waterfalls, climbing across the rocks and stone to reach the top of the falls. Only a few of us made it to the top, the rest gave up by then.
The journey to Phuket – So there was just me, Hit, Shiv and Veron heading over to Phuket for our Muay Thai Camp whilst we waved goodbye to the rest of the crew halfway through our ferry journey.. see you at Xmas guys… even though it was definitely not the best idea to be putting ourself straight in the deepend after a heavy night at the full moon. We bought our ferry and bus ticket being told it would take us 5 hours to get there. Happily getting onto the ferry a bit drowsy from the night before, we sat down and realised that it was just the ferry thats about 4 hours just to the mainland.. let alone the rest. We then arrived in Suratthani, got on a bus which we thought was headed straight to phuket but that went to the city centre of SuraThani.. then after an hour a minubus arrives taking us for 45 minutes to another bus stop. After this we head onto a bigger bus going towards phuket.. the time we arrive in Phuket is about 11pm and then we get pushed off the bus into another minubus to our Muay Thai Camp. Arrived at 1.am.. luckily someone woke up and just gave us our room keys. No way in hell was we waking up for our first session at 7.30a.m, so this had to be missed as we also needed to buy some Muay Thai Gear. I think Shiv and Hit got the full “Travel Experience” in one day there with this journey.
1. Sinbi Muay Thai Boxing Camp
a) Kitted out – We all needed to kit ourselves out with Muay Thai gear, as we was going to be spending 3 weeks here training. We all opted for different colours, in which I ended up with Blue Gloves, Blue hand wraps, Light Blue Muay Thai Shorts and some Blue ankle/foot wraps. We also ended up getting a few Muay Thai Vests from Sinbi as this place just seemed awesome.
b) Room and Gym Floor – Our room was actually located at the Muay Thai Gym, so when we open our front door, the punchbags were staring us straight in the face, with the gym floor just behind and a set of three boxing rings. So there was really no excuses to not make a session considering its a few tiptoe steps away.
c) First Day – So it begins… we’re all pumped in our shorts ready to fight. First thing is the skipping rope.. So all 4 of us grab a rope each and start “trying” to skip. Now i’m not sure if it’s just me but I haven’t picked up one of these ropes for a long time, i’m thinking primary school days?!?.. 3 minutes in and all four of us are dripping with sweat, looking at each other thinking.. “what have we let ourselves in for”.. and this is just a few minutes of skipping. so we just about make it through the paces of 15 minutes skipping and gladly put down the ropes. Next is straight into a 15 minutes running/star jumps/knee drills.. you wouldn’t think this is much.. but in that Thai Heat.. wow you sweat and feel tired soo quickly. Next stop was a breather or 15 minutes stretching.. no idea how these Thai guys stretch like that.. but i’m pretty sure our bodies don’t stretch that far. Then we stop for some water and put some wraps on with the very helpful Trainers. Shadow boxing with technique work to start with and foot stances. Then into the ring for a session with the Trainers.. 4-5 rounds consisting of 3 minutes of hitting pads with the trainers… exhausting to say the least. Dragging ourselves out the ring for a sip of water.. we then start 4-5 rounds of punchbags.. At this point you feel like collapsing, throwing up and crying all in one. This still doesn’t end there, we’re then doing sit-ups/ pressups in between the rounds. After all this, we then pair off and do some technique kicking, blocking and punching with a partner. And to end with another 15 minute stretching session. Now this was just DAY ONE!! To sum up for all four of us, I would say we crawled to our rooms in pain and collapsed on the bed dripping in sweat. ThankGod it was the afternoon session so atleast we could sleep before the next session in the morning.. not sure how we are going to last three weeks of this with not ONE but TWO hardcore training sessions a day.
d) Nai Thai – Nai is the name of my trainer.(click here to see him in action) He is around the same age as me, weighs less than me and could beat the crap out of me blindfolded. He was going to train me for 3 weeks. He has won numerous amounts of championship belts and allot of them by K.O’s. He definately put me through my paces and showed me excellent techniques, stances and made the whole experience enjoyable.. albeit being tough and hitting me with cheeky blows that i had no idea how to block and a few swipes putting me flat on my face onto the ring floor.. but hay that made me more sharp to watch out for his moves. I trained with him twice a day, everyday for 3 weeks and he taught me new moves, punches, kicks and blocks every session. The guy is a legend, and he became my friends aswell as trainer as we would head out for breakfast after training sessions.
e) A Week into training – One week in and we’re still going strong (not sure about strong.. more like surviving) but continuing on. Me and Hit were the Soldiers and attended nearly every session.. where as the morning session.. what can i say for the other two lads… pretending to be injured and not wanting to wake up for the 7.30a.m starts. Veron even hid away from his trainer as the guy nocked on our door for him every session but he pleaded that his hand was injured. I won’t lie, i felt battered and in pain even before the sessions started but just pushed myself through the pain and iced up after every session with some good old tiger balm to relieve the pain.
f) Sparring session – In my second week after learning the basics, our trainers suggested to do some Sparring in the ring and try out the moves. As my partner Veron was “injured”, I was paired up with a guy called Craig.. he was about 50years plus but had been training Muay Thai at home. So i got in the ring with him… now although he may be double my age, he was pretty quick and knew allot of moves than i did. I landed a few punches and kicks on him, but as my blocking skills with my legs were awful, i took quite a few blows to the ribs.. okay i lie.. when i say a few blows.. it was about 50 blows!! Still fired up and landing some punches back.. my slow kicks were being caught by Craig and a swipe to the legs put me to the ground. 3 rounds of intense sparring… i was definately not cut out to be a fighter in a Muay Thai Ring. A good friendly banter sparring session though with a crawl back to the room.. bruised ribs, legs, thighs and maybe a broken nose (or atleast a very weakened nose from when I felt it).
g) Ice Bucket Challenge – After being pestured for a few weeks from people back home (not naming names… uh hum.. Simon and Sumeet).. I decided to do the Ice Bucket Challenge Muay Thai Style. Click here to see.
h) Final Thoughts – All in all a fantastic experience at Sinbi Muay Thai Camp, the trainers are awesome and very professional but also have a great sense of humour and make your time here welcoming. I would say 3 weeks of Muay Thai training is like being in a gym 5 days a week for one year, no wonder they call this one of the most dangerous sports in the world. I can honestly say I had such a great experience here and would love to come back again at some point to toughen up. Big thanks to all the gang at Sinbi and special thanks to Nai the legend who taught me to stand up for myself, take the blows and hit back… so don’t mess.. otherwise i’ll fly in my trainer Nai to kick your ass.
i) Sinbi Fight Night – Last night at Sinbi after training, just our luck again and Sinbi had set up a charity fight night at our gym… and the best part, my trainer Nai was fighting as well as a few of the guys/girls we trained with. Now there were allot of locals at the fight and then the families friends of the opponents of Sinbi fighters. Me and Veron were no doubt going to put down a 1000THB on Nai to beat his opponent. The other team took the bet and it was basically double or nothing. After a few fights, it’s the main event, with Nai stepping into the ring doing his rituals in his Muay Thai Shorts. A round in and his opponent looks to be doing well, but the cheer from Me and Veron was hopefully hyping up Nai and getting his blood warm. Nai gives some awesome kicks and punches, traps the guy in the corner.. the opponent tries to counter and BAMMM!! Nai sweeps the guys leg to the ground and on the way down give a massive KNEE to the face. There was no chance this guy was getting up.. he’s unconcious on the ground.. his trainer brings him back to reality, the guy stands up and is groggy walking out of the ring. Nai banged him down hard!! What an Awesome way to end our time here and a lovely wager cashed in which I happily spent buying drinks to Nai that evening.
2. Face to Face with Tigers – Me, Shiv and Hit went off to Tiger Kingdom in Phuket. We opted for a choice of all three types of Tigers ranging from small to medium to large. So you get in the cage with a god damn Tiger!!! How Awesome! You can lie next to the tigers and put your head on its side when it’s lying down. For the Big Tiger, Shiv went for a photo… everything okay… I went for a photo.. everything okay.. Now Hit went for a photo.. the Tiger stands up and turns around facing him ready to take him out. I think Hit got pretty shook up with this Tiger and once the tiger settled down he still kept his distance for his photo.
3. Nai Harn Beach – This was a fantastic unpopulated beach which was a 10 minute scooter ride away from our Muay Thai Camp. A few days during the 4 to 5 hours break we had between training session we went and chilled at this beach and had a fat breakfast.
4. Clever Monkeys – A monkey show was on the cards to see at the Monkey Training School. Now this is where you realise how intelligent monkeys are.. you’ve got monkeys riding bicycles.. monkeys swimming.. the monkey can even throw a 3-pointer into the basketball hoop.. impressive!! We also had a chance to play throw and catch with a monkey.. which was quite fun, but the monkey was more just throwing the ball back as hard as it could at us.
5. Big Bhudda – A humungous Bhudda at the top of a hill which we scootered our way to.
6. Fresh Lobster & Prawns – Being just off the coast, there is a huge amount of fresh seafood available in the restaurants.. we opted to go for Lobster and prawns as it’s much cheaper to have lobster here than back home. Lobster marinated in Thai curry sauce.. delicious.
7. Bangla Boxing Stadium Friday Night, Tonight, Tonight, Tonight – The main stadium in Phuket on a friday night to see around 15 fights.. firstly it starts with 10 year old kids fighting.. and as the night goes on the fighters get bigger and better. Out of the 15 odd fights, I think 14 of them ended in total nockout within 5 minutes. Either thai boxers being kneed or elbowed to the face.. and taking one of those on the chin is a sure uncounciousness right there. After seeing these fights, i think all four of us had definately made our minds up that we would never mess with a Thai person and never even dream of getting in a ring with one.
8. Thai Hooters – Need i say more…?
9. Massage after Massage after Massage – After being bruised, battered and in pain.. we basically went for a massage nearly everyday to help us recover… 4quid for an hour long sports or swedish massage.. you really can’t go wrong with that. soo professional, you cannot fault the Thai massage girls for their techniques.
10. Chicken Porridge…? – An interesting breakfast I picked up one morning from 7/11
11. Horror / Nightmare / Unreal Vegeterian Festival – We woke up at 5a.m. to go to a temple to for the Vegeterian festival. Now let’s just say this is no vegeterian festival, it’s probably the most weirdest and strangest or scariest thing i have ever seen in my entire life. Now you have people who have offered themselves up to ‘releieve their sins’. What they do is put holes through their faces and then slot in Tools. When i say tool i mean things like Battle Axes, HandSaws and Spades. Then you have people using axes to start slicing their tongues and making funny noises. I have no idea what the hell I have witnessed but i definately felt sick and quite disgusted, I will never in my life forget this moment as i actually thought i was in a nightmare. I kept pinching myself to make sure this was real what i was witnessing. see for yourself what i mean.
Phi Phi Islands
1. Maya Bay (The Beach) – This is the beach where the film “The Beach” was filmed with Leonardo Di Caprio. With amazingly clear waters and a great view from the middle, we chilled for a few hours here.
2. Boat Trip – We hired a boat to take us around a few islands in Phi Phi… I can’t say the boat seemed very safe and once your out in open water.. my god you feel as if the boat is about to capsize at any moment. Thankfully we survived.
3. Dodgy Haircut for Veron – After sitting next in line for a haircut after Veron, i opted to not get my haircut. You can see the reason why by the lovely uneven and unblended line from Veron’s haircut.