Wow, where did 7 months of my new life go?!?! I know, the last update on this site was from the end of February…although I don’t have a “normal 9-5 job” my time has been filled with many other valuable time-consuming experiences, aka just living life 🙂 Here’s a quick run-down of all that’s been happening during my time here in beautiful Thailand.
- Started training at Manop Gym. This has been my long-term / home gym here in Chalong, Phuket. I’m very happy with the trainers & the training…a review will be posted. If you would like to train here, please leave me a comment and I will coordinate for you. For more info, their FB page is – https://www.facebook.com/MuayThaiPhuketManopGym
- Celebrated Songkran, the traditional Thai New Year holiday. From wikipedia:
“The most obvious celebration of Songkran is the throwing of water upon others. Thais roam the streets with containers of water or water guns. In addition, many Thais will have small bowls of beige colored talc sold cheaply and mixed with water which is then smeared on the faces and bodies of random passerbys as a blessing for the new year.”
In Phuket, this translates to a 3-day party – day-time drinking, water-gun fights and celebrating in the streets. I didn’t wake up early enough, but my friend Nathalie took pics of the Buddhist monks arriving very early in the morning to our street, in which alms/ donations for merit were received.
- I also got to experience another culture here, Brazilian…one of the owners of Manop is Brazilian and has hosted many BBQ’s at his house…the meat is delicious and very flavorful. It’s been a great way to get to know the other fighters and trainers outside of the gym.
- Because I’m on a 3-month tourist visa, I had to do a border run to a neighboring Southeast Asian country to get my visa extended for another 3-months. This was accomplished by taking a van to do a day-trip to lovely Ranong, Myanmar (the country formerly known as Burma). When I say lovely, I mean “not so nice” lol.
- Although I enjoyed my time at Anchan Hotel, I wanted a place more permanent to call “home”. Thus my friend Sue and I moved into a lovely 3-bedroom house and signed a 1-year lease. It’s fully furnished and looks very modern, Western. During the rental search I wasn’t looking for anything special, but we definitely lucked out. My rent is around $400 US plus utilities. Back home this would easily cost me $2-3,000 US. Yes, the cheap cost of living and better quality of life are two of the main reasons I left behind the US.
- Since I’m living here long-term I decided to buy a new Honda Click 125cc scooter. No more renting! When you break down the numbers, it makes sense. Plus if I ever decide to move, I can re-coup most of my cost since I’ll get descent money in the used-scooter market.
Buying – 54,000 baht/ $1,700 US (one-time payment)
Renting – 3,000 baht/ $95 US (monthly reoccurring payment)
- Spent three and a half weeks in Northern Thailand – Chiang Mai & Chiang Rai. About an hour plane ride from Phuket. I had a completely different experience from my first trip there (last year) and was only meant to stay for 1-week, but fell in love with the chilled out vibe, night-markets, restaurants, people and beautiful NATURE – mountains, lakes, waterfalls & quarry’s. These are probably some of the best-memories of my time here in Thailand so far, as I got back in touch with that feeling of adventure and discovering new things, which is what originally brought me to this country. It’s definitely one of my favorite places now 🙂
- Besides sight-seeing and exploring, I also fit in Muay Thai training, mostly at Lanna Kiat Busaba Muay Thai. I got to train and meet with one of my favorite blog-writers and fighters – Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu and her site – http://8limbs.us/ It was nice to change up my Muay Thai training routine as I learned new skills and techniques.
- On the last day there, I went to train with my old trainers from my previous trip. They finally opened up their own new gym – Hongthong gym. For more info – https://www.facebook.com/pages/HONGTHONG-MUAYTHAI-GYM
I’d recommend both of these gyms to anyone and will post individual reviews as well.
- Back in Phuket and back to training at Manop Gym.
- Started working part-time for my good friend (and new roommate) Nick M. as a project manager for his Facebook app-development company www.Aptivate.me I met Nick last year during my first trip to Thailand – he is someone I look towards as my idol, mentor and role model in terms of who I aspire to be, both in my professional and personal life. He’s Aussie but has been living here for almost 2 years. This opportunity affords me the chance to work from a laptop while living in paradise 🙂
- My 6-month double-entry visa was going to expire and thus I booked a flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for a 3-day trip. As I’m packing, I realize that I was supposed to visit the local Immigration office in Phuket…this was to be done back in June. I ended up having to pay to a 15,000 baht / $500 US visa overstay fine at the airport 🙁 Chalk it up to “learning” and to the total cost of living in the Land of Smiles, haha.
- I celebrated my 34th birthday. Usually my immediate family would drive down to Hoboken, NJ and take me out for dinner. With distance, this is no longer possible. However, I’m blessed enough that my Phuket family threw me a b-day party and was able to spend the day celebrating with all the special people that have since come into my life.
- Took a 3+ hour drive to Surat Thani to watch one of my trainers, Kru Kongbeng fight at a local festival held at a school where he was the featured main-card. Only a handful of us from the gym were able to go and we were the only foreigners there…it was very surreal to be in this type of environment, where it had a vibe that was a bit “more authentic”, as opposed to the fights I’ve seen at Bangla Stadium in Patong, that mostly caters to a foreign crowd. I’m not trying to say the fights in Patong are fake, but rather emphasizing the “off-beaten path” feeling of the experience in Surat Thani. If you ever get the chance to goto something like this, do it! 🙂 And yes, my trainer won by decision.
- Nick, Mike, Gerri and myself partied & explored Koh Phi Phi and Railay islands for 3-days . The ferry ride was about 2 hours from Phuket Town and only cost about 1,100 baht round-trip. Railay is a stunning island that is peaceful and has plenty of lime-stone rock mountains. We plan on going back for a longer period so we can actually trek up them and enjoy the views.
- Besides Muay Thai, one of the major factors that ultimately influenced my decision to move to Thailand was a desire to simplify my life and be away from all the distractions & trappings that encompass the NYC Rat Race. This choice was made in hope of giving myself a conducive environment to change not just the outside/ exterior of myself, but more importantly to take a step back & focus on the inside ==> SELF-ACTUALIZATION. With that said, I’ve had many enjoyable highlight moments during the past 7-months, but August/September has probably been the most important, valuable and somewhat painful time period for me. This is due to the amount of time I’ve dedicated dealing with underlying issues, as well as cultivating my self-awareness and meditation practice, thus helping me to mentally grow into a stronger, happier and improved version of myself. I’ve gotten a taste for what it feels like to be “at peace” with things and to have stillness of the mind.
Here are a few of the resources I’ve used to help me along this path (I will definitely be writing a more comprehensive piece on this topic)
A few of the books I’ve read:
- The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- The Way of the Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work, and Sexual Desire by David Deida
If you can, get a tablet reader…I bought one in July and it has made it easier to read whenever/ where ever I am, truly enhancing my productivity. Also, for traveling, it’s the perfect size/ weight. Surprisingly it’s cheaper to buy in the US than Thailand (luckily a friend packed it in her suitcase). The model I have is the 8.9 inch Amazon Kindle 2 Fire HD. If you decide to get one, please use this link as I’ll get a tiny commission. No BS, this model has my endorsement…or you can wait a few months for the new version of Kindle to come out between October – November.
And here’s a Q & A section, haha.
Am I home-sick?
No 🙂 Do I miss my friends and family, obviously yes…but I know I will see them eventually. Some people go on vacation for 2 weeks and complain about how they miss sleeping in their own bed or the smell of dirty Jerz air pollution. To be honest, I don’t have any feelings of home-sickness at all. However, good pizza, toasted bagels with cream-cheese and cold imported beers are on top of my “what do you miss most about the US” list.
So when will the next time I go home to visit?
Originally I was planning on going home to visit for Thanksgiving and Christmas…but now my rents and youngest brother are flying here to visit me in November. It’s a long-ass flight (26 – 30 hours) to the States and a bit of a wasted trip if I were to do it right after they come here to visit. Instead, I recently found out that my younger middle-brother is getting married next June, 2014 so that is when I will return (temporarily). By that time next year, it will be about 16-17 months of total time living in Thailand. I plan on spending at-least a month seeing friends and family all over the US. My cousin Sarah (out in Colorado) had baby-twins just as I left for Asia. The month of August brought news of babies being born to one of my best friends from college, Brendan and my other cousin, Michelle. Can’t wait to meet them.
So what’s next?
- This month I enroll in a Thai language school. I really want to be able to have a full conversation with the local Thai’s here. Private classes cost about 29,000 baht for 200 hours and will give me an educational visa…meaning no more visa runs.
- Hopefully I have my first fight in the next few months.
- I’ve already started thinking about which places to visit next – possibly 3-4 months back-packing in South America, as well as living for a few months in Spain and maybe some other European countries. But these won’t happen til next year and Thailand will remain my “base” country to come home to afterwards.
I will leave you with an article and Youtube video for some knowledge and inspiration, enjoy.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. Please leave any comments or questions you’d like to ask. I always enjoy feedback from family, friends and Internet strangers 🙂