The “adventure” getting from JFK to Phuket was long & strenuous. On the 1st leg, 12 hours to Doha, Qatar, I watched the Hangover II and caught some shuteye (Benadryl, melatonin and free Chilean vino, ha). When I landed and went through airport security, that’s when it hit me that I’m far, far away from the states. Lots of people in traditional “middle-eastern” clothes…we also flew over Baghdad and other places that I only saw on the nightly news during the war coverage. On the 2nd flight to Bangkok, I sat next to 2 Brits (Jigs & Amit) who were going to Koh Samui for a 2 week bachelor party. I might meet up with them for the Full Moon party, we’ll see. Before boarding, myself and few other people behind me got pulled aside by Thai security and wanted to check my suitcase…the stories from “Brokedown Palace” began to flash in my head, greaat! I told them I was here by myself, from NY and Nak Muay (Muay Thai fighter)…after they saw my gloves, they apologized and let me go. Since Muay Thai is their national sport, I guess they have a bit more respect for people who travel all the way here to learn their ancient sport. The 3rd flight to Phuket was an easy one, just an hour. A cab drove me for about 40 minutes to my hotel…it took a bit longer than it should have because he couldn’t find the place…the streets don’t really have signs…After about 25 hours total travel time, I arrived, about 1:30pm local time…but no one was there to check me in. So a guy (Dave) staying there gave me the manager’s cell number…called her but couldn’t tell if it was her. Luckily another guy Mike, who actually blogs http://www.muaythaitrainingcamps.com was there and called again but spoke Thai this time…she came (Tanja) about 15 min later and got me sorted out. Took a much needed shower, unpacked a bit then decided to take a nap….well I never heard my alarm clock and woke up around 10:30pm because I had hives up and down my body….insanely itching. Don’t know if it was from the mosquito lotion I used, the water from the shower or the diesel bug-bite that was on my face. Popped a Benadryl and luckily it knocked me out about an hour later.
So this morning I got up around 5ish because 1 – the loons were wilding out 2 – the mini-monsoon was raining hard and decided to knock down a huge branch in front of my room (video). I still laid in bed and just checked emails. After having breakfast down the road, I walked around the area a bit. Chalong seems a bit quiet and has lots of vegetation. Definately feels rural. Went to visit a wat (temple) down the road. Then took my first training session at Phuket Top Team . I was a bit apprehensive because it went from 5 – 7pm…normal sessions back in NYC are 1 hour, and half the time your holding the pad for your partner. Started off with jump-rope, jumping on a tire, group jogging, sit-ups, stretching and shadow-boxing…then came the fun, pad work for 2 or 3 rounds. Got to work with Kru (trainer) Cho, Lucky and Salem. They helped a lot with my technique. This was followed by a few rounds of bag work. Then I got to spar for the 1st time with this young Thai boy, Tim…probably only 11 – 14 yrs old. He helped with my kick and punch defenses. About 2 rounds with him. Next was clinching, for the 1st time as well. Kru Lucky tossed my ass around a bit, falling to the mat a few times, lol..we also used knees to mix it up. Then I did a minute with Salem where he basically kept me in a headlock and I had to try to escape “the clinch”. The “warm-down” was group drills…20 leg kicks on a heavy bag, sit-ups in a small circle where everyone had their legs intertwined and hands locked…and then squatting and jumping-forward in that position, while everyone was in a line with arms locked together. Last came stretching where everyone counted off a different stretch. At the end, everyone bow-wei’d (hands together and bowing) and shook hands. Someone wanted a picture so the trainers and everyone else all got in front of the ring and we posed. Some of the stuff reminded me of “pledging” lol, but the gym really does have a small family feel to it and I def see why people bond here. The guys (some were fighters) in the class were really friendly and invited me out to dinner afterwards. Some were from the UK, Switzerland, Serbia and Florida. I’m pretty shot right now so going to pass out. We ate at a place down the road called Tony’s, named after the owner…he walks around with his belly out and shirt slightly upward so you can see it, lol. Quite a character. On the big-screen, they had UFC 145 Dos Santos vs Mir playing…this was odd since the event already happened Saturday on Pay Per View (unfortunately missed it since I was on the plane). After it was done, some guy unhooked his laptop from the TV, so he was playing a recorded bootleg copy, lol. Nothing surprises me, but was happy to catch the fight anyways. I had a chicken & rice dish for 130 baht total, which is about $4 US (forgot to take a pic). Exhausted, going to go pass out now.[nggallery id=6]