Muay Thai Journal
Last year I decided to put my fitness to test by enrolling at a Muay Thai camp in Phuket for one month’s intensive training. At my age I had no designs on being a contender but wanted to see if I could hack it in what is definitely a young mans
game. This piece contains info about the training along with a trip report and miscellaneous observations:
I flew to Phuket via Kuala Lumpur, and having accumulated a considerable amount of airline points was able to fly business class, my return would be via the new Bangkok airport. Flying business class definitely makes a long haul flight more bearable,
but isn’t value for money in my opinion, I’d never pay such extortionate prices with my own hard earned cash.
I stayed in KL for one night, in the Bukit Bintang area; I hadn’t booked any accommodation in advance and ended up having real trouble finding somewhere to stay. I later found out that Saturday night is always busy in KL and it’s always
best to book in advance if staying there on weekends. I’d never encountered this before in any other south east Asian city I’ve visited so was taken by surprise. I trudged the streets for about an hour before eventually finding a
room in a Chinese run hostel, basic facilities but cheap and clean. The girl on reception found it very strange that I was travelling alone, even suggesting that I should “leave KL and come back with friends”. I joked that I didn’t
have any friends, but she didn’t see the funny side, I think she actually felt sorry for me.
I had a wander around the central part of KL, checked out a few tourist attractions and had dinner in a Vietnamese restaurant, a pretty uneventful night. There are loads of shops (with the emphasis on Xmas shopping at that time of year), and restaurants
in this central KL; with a few bars scattered around, none of which were particularly lively. I had an early start in the morning and also didn’t want to go mad on the booze because of the training I’d be doing, so I didn’t
try too hard to liven things up. I’d guess that there is fun to be had in KL if you know where to go though. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the city, but then again, I wasn’t there long enough to properly evaluate the
place. I did find it expensive compared to other places in the region.
In the morning I headed back to KL airport for my flight to Phuket, only to find that Air Asia fly don’t fly from the main airport, but from a separate terminal known as LCCT. I was cutting it fine, and by the time I transferred to LCCT (20km away
by road), I’d missed my flight. As usual I hadn’t put any real planning into the trip, and had fucked up again. The ticket was non-refundable or transferable, so I had to buy a new ticket for a later flight. LCCT is a shite-hole
with practically no facilities and I was bored stiff waiting for the next flight.
The boxing camp had arranged a taxi to pick me up at the airport and take me to the camp, which was located in the Chalong area of the island; the 45 minute journey cost 600 baht. Chalong is well away from the action at Patong and that suited me fine
as I didn’t want to be tempted away from my training schedule. I rented a camp bungalow; it was reasonably priced, furnished nicely and cleaned on a daily basis.
My first day began with the trainers introducing themselves and giving the new arrivals a fitness assessment, training started at 7am sharp. My body clock was still tuned in to western time and I really struggled to get out of bed, I’d been awake
the whole night, so for me it was the equivalent of going to the gym at midnight. Assessment complete and it was straight down to business. I was handed a heavy skipping rope and told to skip for 30 minutes. One of the trainers watched me closely
to ensure my technique was ok, I’d skipped before so it wasn’t a problem for me.
Next was the warm up, with shadow-boxing and stretching, this took approx another 15 minutes, hands were then wrapped, gloves on, and into the ring. The trainer, wearing pads and the protective equipment put me through my paces of punching, kicking, elbowing
and kneeing. This consisted of five 3 minute rounds, with a one minute break between rounds, part of the one minute break included doing 10 press ups. As it was my first session he demonstrated various moves and techniques, with me following suit.
Next was the heavy bag, where I practiced the combinations of punching and kicking that had been shown to me in the ring, again it was 5 x 3 minutes rounds, with a one minute break between rounds with the mandatory 10 press ups. Working on the heavy bag
is not as easy as it looks and is stamina sapping. The trainers always kept an eye on what was going on and would interrupt as and when they thought it was required. The session on the bag ended with them demanding 50 rapid kicks, first with the
right leg and then with the left leg, it was exhausting. As if all that wasn’t enough, I finished with 100 sit-ups. I was pleasantly surprised that I’d lasted the pace, “not bad for an auld cunt”, I thought to myself
in the shower.
I went straight to bed to catch up on some sleep, but set my alarm for 2 hours later, I wanted to get my body clock in sync with the local time as soon as I could. When I awoke, I received delivery of a hired scooter; the camp isn’t within walking
distance of anything so a scooter was a necessity. I headed to the Chalong circle to familiarize myself with local eateries, supermarkets, and other shops. The street that leads to the Chalong pier had a good selection of places offering Thai
and western food, also a few western run bars (non p4p), and three girlie bars (which I later noted had a selection of whores that must be amongst the ugliest in Thailand).
There were two training sessions/day and on the first day I tried to do both, but decided not to complete the afternoon one as I felt that my body was still suffering from the morning exertions. From then on I stuck to one session/day (preferring the
7am one), giving my body a full 24 hours to recover. In the afternoon I preferred to go for a run and do some weight training, this was done at my own pace without being pushed by the trainers. Very few (if any) trainees did the 2 sessions/day.
The afternoon session consisted mostly of those who were into the nightlife, simply because they were never in any fit state to rise at 7am; and with most of the lads out drinking and chasing gash at night, the mornings were always the quieter
of the two. This was ideal for me as the trainers had more time to spend on one-to-one training, the afternoons were always more group orientated and less intensive, because of the numbers attending and the hangovers.
I trained 6 days a week, Sunday being rest day, and soon go into a routine. My days consisted of the morning training session, followed by breakfast in Chalong, then exploring the island on my scooter, then back to the camp in the afternoon for the weights
and running. Evenings were usually spent eating out and socializing with guys from the camp. I abstained from the beer and stayed clear of the nightlife though, I didn’t trust myself to continue with the training if I started drinking and
chasing gash. I’d been there seen it and done it all before anyway, so didn’t feel that I was missing out.
After the first week, I started going for a Thai-massage to aid my recovery between training sessions, at 43 my body was starting to feel the strain of the daily battering it was receiving. I could actually handle the sessions no problem, the recovery
time was the issue, in the real world I would have trained on alternate days, but that wasn’t an option for me while at the camp as I wanted to cram in as much training as I could while there. At first I frequented the parlours around Kata,
but these were really just knocking shops, with the emphasis more on “happy ending” than quality massage. I spoke about this with one of trainers and he took me to a place he knew in Chalong, frequented by Thais. The service and
quality of the gash in this establishment was superior to anything on offer in Kata. Extras were still available, which was fine with me, but a real massage was provided prior to any business dealings. Some days I accepted extras, others I abstained,
it depended on the attitude and performance of the masseur; basically, if I got a stiffy I’d use it.
The majority of the people staying at the camp were English and Aussies, with a smattering of Scandinavians and Israelis. There were no fellow Scots so I found myself socializing with the English and Aussies; the Scandinavians, although friendly enough,
weren’t that interested in going out at night, preferring to hang around each others apartments. The Israelis preferred to keep themselves to themselves and didn’t mix with the other nationalities at all, even getting a simple hello
from them was an effort.
The trainers were all ex-boxers, who’d fought at various levels, the most senior had fought at Lumpini and was a right hard looking bastard, but a nice guy nonetheless. His stories of what he got up to in his younger days when at his peak, were
entertaining to say the least, in his words “the ladies and the whisky” were his downfall. The other trainers all had a solid Muay Thai background with plenty of ring experience; they all knew what they were doing. There was also
a younger guy of 17, who still fought competitively but also helped out at the camp whilst he trained there. This kid did not have an ounce of fat on his body, and watching him train was an eye opener, his stamina on the treadmill was phenomenal,
as was his dedication to the sport. His colleagues all told me that he had a great future if he could stay focused.
All of the trainers pushed us hard, they shouted and screamed at us when they needed to, they encouraged us, they told us what was good and bad, where we could improve and occasionally laughed at us, especially when we sparred with each other. They were
always quick to step in if anybody showed any signs of exhaustion or distress and were especially vigilant when it came to cuts and grazes, always emphasizing the importance of cleaning and covering the wound when in Thailand. A lot of the lads
received injuries because of the intensity of the training and this had restricted what they could do, an outbreak of shingles also laid a few of them low. Luckily I avoided any serious injury, just picking up the odd ache and minor strain.
Overall the atmosphere and camaraderie in the camp was spot on, the guys who were learning all got on well with each other, and with the trainers. I was the eldest of the trainees by some way; the majority were in their mid-twenties, with a couple in
their early 30’s. I envied the younger guys with no ties who were staying there for extended periods (3 – 6 months); they were able to take their time on improving on all aspects of their conditioning and technique, whereas I felt
more pressurized because of the limited time available to me.
After the month was up, my fitness levels and stamina had increased considerably, I could skip like a pro, comfortably handle the 5 rounds in the ring and on the heavy bag, do 200 rapid kicks on the bag with each leg, and finish the session with 300 sit
ups. Kicking was still a problem though, specifically high kicking, as I still hadn’t obtained the required flexibility to do this properly (probably because of my age), so I stuck to lower kicks, which were no problem. I’ve always
been able to throw a decent punch, but the training improved my timing and my combinations considerably. Knee and elbow moves enhanced my armoury, both are are lethal when executed properly. I would have liked to have improved on my clenching
and blocking, but just didn’t have the time, there’s only so much that can be learned in a month.
My skills improved enough for the trainers to ask towards the end of my last week if I fancied a competitive fight, assuring me that they wouldn’t put me in with an opponent who wasn’t beatable, I declined telling them that it was a young
mans game. Up until then I hadn’t revealed my age, simply because I wanted to be pushed as hard as the younger guys. Age revealed, and I had the respect of the trainers and the trainees, they were well impressed with my efforts, though
the Thai guys referred to me as “old man” from then on. I joked that my mind was 43, my body 33 and my tadger 23; the Thais laughed uncontrollably on hearing this.
One of the trainees who’d excelled in training did take on a competitive fight at the boxing stadium in Patong. He fought a Thai who didn’t look particularly fit or interested, the Thais kicking was spot on though and he came close to stopping
our man in the 1st round. From the 2nd round onwards, the Thai looked exhausted and basically stood and took a beating, the ref stopped the fight midway through the 3rd round. If I’m being honest, our man wasn’t particularly impressive
in the ring, it was obvious that he was a novice; in fact I’m sure that a fitter and more motivated boxer would have beaten him easily, but respect to him for having the balls to get into the ring in the first place.
As previously mentioned I avoided the nightlife, apart from that one night in Patong for the boxing, which caused me to miss training the next day. I did sometimes sniff around Kata, Rawai, and Chalong at night, and found that both Kata and Rawai have
pretty low-key nightlife, but action is available for those who are looking for it. I noted that in Chalong there are definite non-p4p possibilities with the gash that have regular jobs there. I went out with a local from one of the shops a few
times, but found that a bit more time and effort is required when going down that road, she was looking for a relationship and quickly lost interest when she realized that I wasn’t.
On leaving Phuket I planned on spending a week temple hopping in Laos, a country I have yet to visit. It was close to Xmas and training at the camp was winding down, most of the lads were heading to Koh Phanang for the beach parties but the seedier element
among them wanted to check out Pattaya and invited the “old guy” along to show them the ropes. Pattaya hadn’t been on my agenda, but they talked me into spending a couple of days there before heading to Laos, I felt like cutting
loose after my month of good behaviour.
Pattaya is Pattaya and never changes that much, but it’s quite an experience for first timers and the lads I was with had seen nothing like it before, it was hilarious watching their reaction to the madness. I noticed that it is definitely getting
rougher though, and most of the troublemakers that I came across were lowlife cunts from the north of England for some reason. The standard of gash on offer just seems to get lower and lower as well, the odd stunner can still be found, but overall
there is very little quality around these days; the bad attitude just makes them even less attractive. I wasn’t prepared to pay for gash that I considered inferior in comparison to the birds that I can bang in the west for free, so this
made it difficult for me to get into the swing of things.
The lads were all enjoying themselves though, and definitely didn’t need any guidance from me, so after two days I decided I’d had enough and headed for Vientiane. Departing Pattaya I was again cutting it fine, and by the time I arrived
at Suvarnabhumi I’d missed yet another flight. I tried to find an alternative, but it was Xmas eve and all flights to Laos were either fully booked or out of my price range. I was unable to get anything to Cambodia either, so was stuck
in Thailand. Once again my bad time keeping had cost me, I cursed myself as I boarded the bus back to Pattaya. The lads were shocked to see me when I walked into the pub that night, and they insisted that I was only welcome back into the gang
if I was going to enjoy myself, so I accepted my fate and embraced the beer and the nightlife. My plan was to get Xmas out of the way, then head to Laos in two days time.
Being a late night sniffer, I always ended up at Club Insomnia, this place hadn’t existed when I was last in town, but I immediately liked the vibe, as did my fellow boxers; loads of available gash and open to the wee small hours, we ended up there
every night. Apart from the freelancers, I found that some of the staff are up for it as well if approached discretely. Following my aborted trip to Laos, I scored a bit of gash in there who pressed all the right buttons. She had a body like Tina
Turner and could dance like her as well; I couldn’t resist when she started rubbing herself against me, and kicked a waitress that I’d been chatting up into touch.
On leaving Insomnia, “Tina” offered to drive to my hotel, I thought she was joking but she actually had a car parked nearby, it looked pretty new and had air-conditioning and leather seating, very plush. She also had a change of clothing
in the back seat of the car. Back at the hotel there was no messing about and no mention of money, we went straight at it and she was without a doubt the horniest Thai that I’ve ever banged. I’ve never met a Thai with a body like
hers either, she had big heavy titties (which were definitely real), the type usually seen on curvy western women, and an arse and set of thighs that a black woman would be proud of, her features and skin colour were typically Thai; not a bad
combination. After catching a few hours sleep, she left in the afternoon wearing her change of clothing, her day time look was very conservative compared to how she looked in Insomnia; she had entered my room looking like a whore but left it looking
like a librarian.
I called her that night and arranged to meet with her; she turned up at my hotel around midnight, ditched her overnight bag in my room and we headed out for a night on the tiles. As we walked through the reception area, I noticed the male employees of
the hotel scowling at me, though I’ve no idea why, maybe they knew her or were annoyed that she’d left her car in the hotel car park. She didn’t seem bothered though and actually looked at them like they were complete and
utter shite; I was impressed by her confidence. As we sat having a drink I enquired about where the car came from and she told me that it was her sisters, and that she worked for her selling condo’s, “aye right” I thought
to myself. She also mentioned that she had a kid, which was why she couldn’t get out until late, adding that her “aunt” was the babysitter.
Whatever her setup, and judging by the quality of her clothing and the amount of credit cards she owned, she was doing ok; so I suppose she had a sugar daddy of some sort (maybe the car and business were his?). Even though I didn’t know the full
story, I’ve no doubts that she had at one time worked in the gogo bar, and maybe even still did. She danced like a nana plaza veteran, and would regularly get up on one of the platforms in Insomnia and strut her stuff provocatively. I hate
dancing (real men don’t dance) so I’d watch from the bar and she could put on quite a show, she’d constantly get approached and loved the attention.
I didn’t think I’d find much better than Tina in Pattaya, so I decided to spend the remainder of my time there with her. Each night we’d meet up around midnight, we’d do a bar crawl before heading to Insomnia, and eventually
back to my hotel. She’d always leave in the afternoon (in her sensible attire), telling me she had to “see daughter” or “attend meeting”, or “have things to do”. I wasn’t particularly interested
in what she got up to when away from me, so I left her to it and went boozing with the lads during the day. When I left Pattaya, there were no tears or amateur dramatics from her and no exchange of contact details either, she knew the score. I
never got around to going to Laos.
Looking back at my time in Phuket, I think that a minimum of 2 months is needed for Muay Thai newbies; the first month is really for learning the basics and reaching the required level of fitness, a second month is needed to hone the skills; but unfortunately
I just didn’t have the time to stay longer. Back home, I’ve hung a punch bag in my attic and am training twice a week, sticking closely to the schedule I followed in Phuket, I’m maintaining a very good level of fitness, so
in that respect I’ve achieved what I set out to do. I’m also teaching the basics to my eldest daughter, and she’s picking it up really well, especially the kicking.
I’d love to go back and train some more, but have no idea when that’ll be, I fancy a change of scenery so my next long haul trip is to Guatemala, where I’ll be checking out the Mayan ruins in Tikal, hopefully I’ll be checking
out the Latina gash as well. I’m determined to get to Laos when I’m next in south east Asia though, so I’d better stay clear of Pattaya to ensure I get there.
The few people I know who have done Muay Thai training rave about it, saying that your fitness improves markedly and that as a relatively short course for self-protection and confidence building it is absolutely first class.