Bangkok for the weekend – Feb.1 – 4, 2013

By | Muay Thai Training in Bangkok, Traveling | 4 Comments

The plane at JFK lifted off around 10:40pm EST Wednesday night and began the 12 hour journey to Doha, Qatar.  The first movie I watched in the seat’s headrest was Argo.  It’s pretty kewl that Qatar Airways can get movies that are still playing in the theatre.  However, it probably wasn’t a good idea to watch this because the movie was about the 1979 Iran-hostage situation…the exact area I was flying to!  After a second movie, I tried to catch some sleep but it didn’t happen.  We finally landed in Doha and had a 2 hour layover.  The last part of the trip was a 6 hour flight to Bangkok.  I watched the Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Beach.  I’ve never seen this movie and was kicking myself for that…It’ s about a man that goes to Thailand by himself for an adventure…it definitely had some underlying themes & messages that resonated with me.

Around 7:30AM local time, we finally landed (about an hour before I got to see the sunrise)…the visa-customs line was long and took about half an hour to get through.  Luckily my suitcases made it over and nothing was damaged or lost 🙂  A 40min cab ride (300 baht / $10 US) later I was checking in at the Bedrooms Boutique Hotel.  It was located in the Sukhumvit part of Bangkok and only $32 US / night.  I would def recommend them as the rooms  are modern, clean and the location is perfect (near BTS On Nut and food options).  Here’s the website http://www.thebedroomsbangkok.com/  Other reviews from Agoda’s website http://www.agoda.com/asia/thailand/bangkok/the_bedrooms_boutique_hotel.html

Since I flew in early, it was too soon for check-in and my room wasn’t ready…all I wanted was a shower and my bed to crash in.  So I got some brunch at the restaurant and luckily an hour and half later the room was ready 🙂  I unpacked, showered then passed out for 4 hours…it took a lot of will-power to get back up around 4pm to do some exploring.  The weather was comfortable (80’s ?) but a bit humid.  Nothing un-bearable.  I checked out the street carts, bazaar and shopping centers (Big C and Tesco) for food.  Everything is cheap.  Here’s a video clip of the streets http://youtu.be/qm4Bzw3erKY  BTW, Chinese New Year (Feb.10th) is a big celebration here because of the Thai-Chinese population.  Although not an official holiday celebrated, many people celebrate it.  Most of the stores sold decorations or had ornaments up already.

The next day I woke up and took the BTS above-ground train and the MRT subway to explore more parts of the city including the Stock Exchange of Thailand.  In the afternoon , I met up with my Canadian friend Bill (who runs http://www.fightpassport).  He took me to a Muay Thai gym that specializes in clinching.  Luckily the gym was pretty empty as a majority of the fighters and trainers went to watch a fight at one of the stadiums.  Because I’m not as experienced as everyone else, I can be pretty self-conscious.  When I got there he showed me the case with 4 – 8 different champion stadium belts (from Raja/ Lumpinee) that the gym’s fighters have won.  Obviously they are doing something right with their training.  I asked him what the format of the session will be and he said we’re probably going to clinch for an hour straight and only 2 rounds on the pads (although they’re 5 – 10 min rounds!).  To be honest, I don’t have much experience working in the clinch and was a bit intimidated to hear this.

I stretched, shadowboxed then hit the heavy bag.  BTW, Bill kicked the heavy bag once and it broke off the chain…it was pretty funny as the people thought he was Baukaw or something, lol.  About 10 min later I entered the ring and began my rounds.  Because of my torn MCL from my last trip here as well as plantars fasciitis (foot ligament inflammation , I haven’t been able to do much training ie. no skipping rope, no jogging and no kicking Thai pads.  My doc said I had to completely rest which resulted in me not going to any sort of Muay Thai gym for the past 6 months (which totally sucked!).  I could only goto my regular gym and lift weights…luckily they have a heavy bag so would shadow-box and work on my punches and elbows.  The first round with my trainer was about 5 min I think.  He had me working punches, elbows, knee and kick combo’s.  One of my sticking points is getting my hip more involved when kicking…it irks the sh1t outta me.  I had a short break then did a 2nd round with him. After that I was pretty gassed and my chest burned, ehhhhhh.  Then came the clinch-fest…Bill and one of the taller Thai’s helped me with different techniques for about 30-40 min.  I’ve never done so much before.  But this really is what the gym specializes in and was happy to learn everything.  I forgot to get the Thai’s name but he was super-friendly and helpful.  When I’m ready to step up my clinching, I will def return here for a solid month of training.  Here’s Bill’s write-up of the gym http://fightpassport.com/muay-thai-training-journals/muay-thai-bjj-training-bangkok-thailand/  Thx again buddy.  Afterwards, we went and grabbed dinner in Nana area.  Had the chicken and cashew nuts which were really good.  Then I got a tour of the go-go bars where the Hangover II was shot, lol…it was definitely a trip to see it in person hahahaha.

Sunday I went to my favorite barber shop in BKK called Never Say Cutz (see previous post: http://www.journeyto8limbs.com/2012/07/06/day-21-22-june-16-17-goodbye-phuket-hello-bangkok )…unfortunately Jack wasn’t there and had some other guy give me a fade.  Not bad, but it wasn’t Jack-quality.  Later that night, I got an hour foot massage…best $4US I spent! 🙂

Monday morning, my alarm woke me up at 6AM local time so I could start watching the Superbowl on CBS’s website.  The stupid site would continually play Samsung commercials then error out for the live stream…so just went back to bed.  Around 10AM my alarm went off again and I frantically re-packed everything and checked out to make my 12:45pm flight to Phuket.  After a 45 min cab ride, I arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport and went to the AirAsia desk to check-in…she said Air-Asia flies out of Don Mueng airport now and that I need to get in a cab because I don’t have much time!!!!!!  I ran back out to the cabbie line and told the driver to go fast…it’s a 40min ride back towards Bangkok and that didn’t give me much time.  The driver made it to the airport around 12:15pm and the flight leaves 30min…but still have to check-in my bags and go through security.  Luckily when I got to the gate, they didn’t even board yet.  That was one of the most-stressful parts of the trip so far.  Once I boarded the plane, I heard people talking in loud and intense voices…they were pushy too…Was I back in NYC!?!?!  – No, I wasn’t, it’s just that the majority of the plane was filled with Chinese people!!!  I wanted to tell them “Sabai-sabai” which means relax in Thai.  Not sure if I’ll be using this air-line again.

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Goodbye Phuket, Hello Bangkok – Day 21 & 22 (June 16 & 17)

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Saturday Day 21 June 16 

I woke up around 7ish since I was meeting Vincent and Paolo Miranda at the Phuket airport for a 10:50am flight to Bangkok.  I made another stop by Kru Oh but his housemate said he was still sleeping…looks like I’ll have to email him to get my questions answered.  Then I said my my goodbyes to the Fern House family and got in a cab to the airport (600 or 700 baht and about 45 min).

Leaving Phuket was a bit sad for me.  When planning my trip to Thailand months ago (in February / March), my initial plan was to do the a whole month there…but then I started reading about other parts of Thailand and various Muay Thai camps…so decided on only 2 weeks in Phuket.  After meeting everyone the first week there, I felt really comfortable and happy to be with such amazing and interesting people…which is why I ultimately decided on extending my stay to 3 weeks in total.  The friendships I made and the memories we had were something special to me.  I could definitely picture myself living in Phuket long-term 😉  The “sabai, sabai” (relax, relax) attitude and laidback beach vibe is contagious.

When I got to the waiting lounge at Phuket airport, I saw two guys with sunglasses on, passed out on the seats….turned out, it was the Miranda brothers, lol.  After arriving to Bangkok airport, I picked up my luggage but Paolo and Vincent didn’t see theirs.  We spoke to the attendant and it seems that since they came from Koh Samui, they were supposed to pick up their luggage in Phuket and check it in before Bangkok…of course the attendant in Koh Samui told Vincent the opposite which lead to this mix-up.

After an hour or two, we got the luggage and were on our way to the hotel (Da Vinci)  It’s about a 45 – 60 min ride and traffic in Bangkok is bad, like NYC bad.  We try to check in at the hotel, but they now tell us that they are booked and have to move us to a different hotel…This is after I used http://agoda.com online booking.  So it takes another 20 – 30min to get to Seasons Boutique Hotel.  The place is in a good location (BTS airtrain Nana station), new and the rooms are modern and clean..atleast we didn’t get screwed.  It’s about 3 or 4pm so decide to grab a bite next door at this burger joint…the food was delicious.  A bit pricey but worth it.

Later we took a cab to Lumpinee stadium to do some shopping for Muay Thai gear.  It started to down-pour heavily.  After, we cabbed it to MBK mall for more shopping.  It’s a 5- floor megamall that sells everything, from clothes, electronics, souvenirs, etc.  However, a lot of the stores sell bootlegs…as in knock-offs.  There was an “high-end luxury” store with D&G, Armani Exchange, Montclair and even G-star (one of my fav’s)…they looked real but were all fakes.  I’m used to the NYC Chinatown bootlegers, but the Thai’s bring it to a whole new level with the store decor and presentation (ie. mannequins, lol).  I ended up getting a Diesel belt for my cargo shorts and some kewl V-neck t-shirts for about 150 baht each.

The last stop was Kaoh San Road…the infamous touristy area in Bangkok.  It’s a loud, pumping, vibrant area with souvenir shops, massage parlors, bars, food carts and clubs.  I picked up some more gifts for people back at home (tank-tops and small statues)…we also got a foot massage and tried the pedicure where the fish eat your dead skin cells, haha.

The Miranda’s were scheduled to leave the hotel around 5-6 AM Sunday morning to fly back home to Australia…we said our good-byes then went to bed.

Sunday Day 22 – June 17

I was scheduled to leave Bangkok Sunday to start my training in Chiang Mai.  But since Saturday was a lost day wasted on traveling, I decided to “sabai, sabai” and take in another day and night.  Usually I’d be all stressed out about my travel plans getting messed up, but living in Thailand so far has taught me to just go with the flow…things work out.

One of the guys I ended up hanging out with in Phuket was Michael Galvin, the owner of the awesome Muay Thai website: http://www.muaythaitrainingcamps.com/

His site has loads of helpful information regarding Thailand…actually I used a lot his articles to plan my trip.  Two things he mentioned to do in Bangkok were:

1 – Shop at Action Zone for cheap Muay Thai gear


2 – Get a haircut at Never Say Cutz


So I walked to the closest BTS (AirTrain) station Nana.  Tip: The BTS AirTrain is cheap, super easy to use and fastest way to get around…yeah cabs are cheap (unlike NYC) but the traffic makes it soooo slow to get around.  Time = $$$ people!  To get a ticket, go upto the window that has a worker and tell her the station name…if you jack up the pronunciation like I did, just point to the station on a card / map (I wonder what Thai’s think of me…I look Thai, but can’t pronounce any of the words, lol).  She’ll quote you some number in baht, so just give her that in bills.  She’ll give you back the same amount back, but in coins.  Now walk over to the ticket machine and follow the directions.  Swipe the card using the arrows pointed outward.  Before going up the escalator/ stairs, make sure you either ask someone or look at the map.  There’s a map everywhere so you can confirm you’re going in the right direction.  My dumbass gets lost in NYC all the time and I’ve worked there for 7 yrs, lol.

To get to Action Zone, take the BTS to Siam station.  Then walk across the platform to transfer to the other line…take that to the National Stadium stop.  When you leave the station, you have to swipe your card.  Walk out and go towards the National Stadium.  Keep walking another 10 minutes…you’ll pass a Tesco Lotus on your left and cross a crazy intersection. Keep walking some more until you see Action Zone (see pic).

Since it was Sunday, the store was closed.  I decided to just explore the area some more and stumbled upon a suit tailor next door.  Getting a suit was something I was planning on doing in Bangkok since you can get custom made ones for cheaper than what it costs in the States…plus I have my cousin’s wedding the week after I get back and wanted to look pimp for it, haha.

When I walked in, the store looked very professional and well kept.  Other ones I saw in Bangkok didn’t look as nice.  Jeff was the employee who helped me out. First topic we talked about was price…there’s 3 levels based on the fabric of the suit…the cheap one was about 4,000 baht, the middle was 6-7,000 baht and the most expensive was 8,500 baht.  I decided on the latter option since 8,500 baht is about $283 US which is a bargain.  In my closet I have a few Hugo Boss suits, but my last one was from Zara…it costs around $300 but then had to get it tailored.  A few months ago, the seam on my butt split, cheap workmanship Zara!  Also, the pricier material was a lighter, cashmere fabric which was good for me since it’ll be summer when wearing it.   Next he gave me a catalog of suit designs for me to look at.  I spotted a nice 2-button slim cut suit with narrow peak lapels, in a dark charcoal gray…I was sold!

He took my measurements and I gave him a 4,500 baht deposit.   I would come back tomorrow for an initial suit fitting, then again in 2 weeks for a final fitting.  Jeff was great as he spoke very good English (he’s from Nepal I think) and even travels to NYC every few months for business.  He also seemed knowledgeable and fair.   I feel in Bangkok, everyone’s always trying to hustle you, just like NYC.  The store has been around for quite a while too.  On the back of my deposit slip/ business card, it said “Thailand’s Golden Shield Award Winning Tailor for 2008 – 2009”  http://thaisquarecenter.com/

Next I took the BTS to Thong Lo station to get a haircut at Never Say Cutz, located off Soi 50 I think.  It has a barber stripey thing outside.  Just looking at the shop from outside, you could tell the place is legit and has character.  When you step inside, you hear them playing American Hip-Hop…they either got digital satellite or a mixtape playing through the speakers.  There’s a huge portrait of Biggie Smalls on the far wall and one of the Empire State building on the near wall.  The place def has a kewl, NYC vibe to it.  Mike recommended “Jack” so ask for him.

I wait about 10 minutes then it’s my turn.  I told him a fade with clipper #0 and just a little off the top.  He finishes off my cut with an old skewl razor blade on my neck and sides.  About 25 minutes later, he turned me into the most handsome man, lol.  No joke, his haircut is better than my NYC barber.  And it only costs 250 baht…about $7.50 US…but I hit my man with a 140 baht tip because it’s still a bargain and he really did a sick job.  I’ll be back to Bangkok in 2 weeks before my final flight to NYC, so told Jack I’ll stop by again.

It wasn’t too late so decided to walk around Thong Lo a bit…one place that caught my eye  was this bar called Wood Bar…it had kewl signage outside with aliens protruding from it.  They also had a flyer up for some tattoo shop, “Tattoo OD”…it looked professional, but also well designed/ trendy.  It was a few doors down so went and checked it out.  I still had fresh ink on me so wasn’t looking to get anything done, but was contemplating getting another tattoo on my shin maybe in the future.  I asked to see some of their work and they let me flip through the pics on their laptop, then book, then ipad (excellent use of technology btw).  It’s a needle gun shop, not bamboo style.  During this time, I was speaking to the manager of the shop, Petch I think.  He spoke very good English and lived in LA for a bit to go to college (art, design or fashion).  Before I left I grabbed their business card.

Their FB page is: http://www.facebook.com/tattoo.odstudio

Foursquare: https://foursquare.com/v/tattoo-od-studio/4dd059dfd22deadedd81b6fe

Afterwards, I jumped on the BTS back to my hotel.  I stopped off for an hour foot massage at this place called Foot Joy.  The lady was really good and it costs 250 baht plus 100 baht tip.  But it was well worth it.  My foot arch was still in pain from training.

If you’re brave, one of the fun things in Bangkok are the numerous food carts that line the streets and alleys.  I grabbed dinner at one of these before heading to the hotel.  A few hours later, I was hungry again and got pan fried/ Pad Thai noodles with chicken.  My mouth is watering again as I write this, haha.

Quick review of Seasons Boutique Hotel

I was put into this hotel by accident…however, I would def stay here again and recommend this place to other people (in fact, I told them please reserve a room for me in 2 weeks).  Their website for bookings is  http://seasonsboutiquehotel.com/

  • Cheap rates, about 1300 baht per night (they had a sign outside for a special rate of 1200 since they’re new)…this is about $40 US.
  • Good location, as they are in the Suhkumvit area of Bangkok and the BTS Nana station is within walking distance.  The other sites, ie. shopping malls and food carts / restaurants are close as well.
  • Great customer service.  The managers and concierge were very helpful and spoke good English.  When I told them my AC in my room wasn’t working because the remote control was missing, they gladly moved me to the next room over, which was a larger corner room with window view.
  • The hotel is new and rooms are clean and modern.
  • Wireless internet is good. It did go down for a little bit, but they called me when it was back up.
  • The only con I might say is the rooms aren’t small, but aren’t big either.  I guess average…but the corner room was def a bit bigger.  However, you aren’t spending much time except to sleep & shower. 
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