Archive for November, 2008

Sparring, Festivals, and Crazy Swedes…

November 19, 2008

So, last Friday I went to the hospital to follow up on my staff infection.  The doctor gave me the OK to go back to training, so I was really stoked!   I am wearing a rashgaurd for about a week, just to be respectful of the other guys at camp. 

Since then, I have been training very hard, trying to get my flexibility and conditioning back to wear it was before my infection.  I have been sparring a lot and that seems to be helping drastically, especially with my striking.  The only problem is that there are many small injuries that you acquire, lots of soreness.  You constantly stub your toes or crack knees with people or take awkward kicks and punches, but it really helps a lot. 

Last week all of Phuket had a huge religious festival.  It was cool because the tradition is to get this little thing made from flowers, incense, candles and palm leaves and release it down a river or into the ocean.

festival

This symbolizes releasing all your bad luck and misfortune and preparing for good things for the next year.  Two of my friends and I released ours at the temple in Phuket.  It felt really good because I feel like I have had some pretty bad luck for the past couple years (I’m definitely not saying good things haven’t happened to me).

festival 2

I partied on saturday night with some guys from camp and some Swedes we met.  The Swedes were complete comedy, they reminded me of the guys from jackass. 

swede

They loved to sing funny drinking songs and make classic faces.  We met another Swede named Amanda on our way to 7/11, she was also really cool. 

amanda

I found a new beach called Kata Noi.  It is much smaller then the other beaches I have seen and it actually has some waves.  I rented a bodyboard for 2 hours and had a blast, my nipples were raw though cause the thing was fiberglass and was covered in sandy wax.

On Friday, I was pulling money out of the ATM with my buddies and I left my card in the machine.  It was a total shocker when I realized I didn’t have it on Sunday!  I thought I had been robbed, but I couldn’t understand why they hadn’t taken my cash.  I thought about it and realized that I might of left it in the ATM. I was stressing so hard until I saw that my account hadn’t been used.  I went to the bank and let them know, but they couldn’t open the ATM until Monday.  Monday finally came and I went an got my card from the bank.  It worked out so well because I wouldn’t of been able to pull out cash for the rest of my trip.  It could’ve been the worst space case mistake ever, I consider myself very lucky. 

I can’t believe I only have 11 more days at camp.  It makes me want to train 3 times as hard, I need to learn the most I can.  I am really excited to have a burrito when I get home.  I am definitely looking forward to Chiang Mai and the north of Thailand in about 2 weeks!

Beaches and Buddha…

November 19, 2008

11/13/08

I wrote this a couple of days ago, but the internet has been bad…

Today was awesome.  Since I must wait to see what the doctor says about me returning to training, I have just been exploring my surroundings and trying to make the most of my trip.  I started out eating some breakfast and gathering a group of folks to go to Nai Harn beach for the day.  Nai Harn is said to be the most beautiful beach in the area, I would tend to agree after my experience today.  It is much more secluded and no people trying to sell you stuff.  I bought a beautiful sarong (I call it a “man skirt”) and laid on the beach in the hot sun for a few hours.  The sand was white and the water turquoise.  

hang loose

The only things that I could’ve asked for were some waves, but I just floated around on my back instead. 

After I had soaked up enough sun, my Aussie friend Pete and I went for a bite at Rawai beach.  The place looked a little shady, but I figured maybe it was just a tasty hole in the wall.  I got fried rice with prawns; they brought me steamed rice with prawns.  I tried to explain this to our waiter, but he just said, “Yes it’s fried rice” (in very broken English).  I said oh well and started to eat.  I forked my first and noticed that the poop strips hadn’t been removed so I passed on every shrimp! Bummer!  After we ate, I felt really nervous about the food messing with my stomach, so I got a shot of Johnny Walker Red.  I figured the whiskey would burn up anything bad. It worked, no squirts! HEHE!

 

After we ate, we decided to go the Big Buddha of Phuket.  It is a 50 foot statue at the top of the highest point in Phuket.  It is covered in white marble so it shimmers in the sunlight.  You can pretty much see it from any part of the island so it took a while on motorbikes to get there.  The road was super windy and parts were just bumpy dirt roads.  It was very humbling seeing monks who spend their entire lives dedicated to Buddhism, living at the Buddha.  It was a very special experience, I felt honored to be able to be so close to something so spiritual.  I got some great pictures.

buddha

After leaving the Buddha, we got home, showered, and went and watched the new James Bond.  It was action packed, full of good one liners.  It was nice paying 120 baht ($4), instead of the $10.75 I’m used to in the states.  It was interesting because after the previews they play a video honoring the king of Thailand.  Everyone stands and watches a very touching 1 to 2 minute video paying homage to the king.  He is loved very much by his country; it makes you feel good to see that.

Time to crash, big day tomorrow!  To the hospital in the morning, I finally might be able to train again after over a week!  Damn bacteria!

 

A Beautiful Island and an Ugly Plague…

November 14, 2008

So, again, a lot has happened since my last entry…  I went to the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my life and I got the plague (actually, just staff infection, but still nasty).

I’ll start with the bad and end with the good so we end on a good note. 

So, last week about Thursday or so, I noticed a rash on my inner arms.  Not too bad, it kinda just looked like a bad sunburn or something.  I had been hugging an older punching bag at camp practicing my knees to the body, and thought that it was just irritation from the Dettol cleaning solution they use to clean the bags twice a day.  We did a lot of clench work after that in the ring against eachother and beforehand they make us take our shirts off.  So, when I woke up on Saturday morning on Phi Phi island (I’ll get into that later), my small rash had started to turn disgusting (skip to the end of the paragraph if you don’t wan’t to be grossed out).  There were dime sized blisters/boils filled with puss all over my inner arms and wrists, with a few on my neck and chest.  Once they popped they would just ooze puss constantly (an American doctor I met said they were “weeping”).  SO HANUS!!! 

 

staff

thailand-2008-007I felt like I was going to die, even though the rest of my body felt perfectly healthy.  Just the look of it was so wrong.  I went to three different pharmacies in the following days, the different creams and pills seemed to only make it worse (remember these “pharmacists” are not doctors they are just random people that give you random drugs).  I finally went to the hospital on Monday and the doctor said all the stuff they had been giving me was only making it worse.  I finally received the right antibiotics and cortizone pills and it has been clearing up, slowly but surely.  The doctor says it is not a good idea to train because at this point it is still contagious… total bummer!  Almost a week gone from my 4 week stay at the camp.  Oh well, hot and humid=bacteria!!!

Ko Phi Phi island… oh what gorgeousness.  It was so unbelievable.  We took the ferry out at about 8am and arrived at the dock about an hour and twenty minutes later.  The islands are all about a half mile apart and stunning to look at.  The cliffs go straight out of the water, some up to like 300ft tall.Phi Phi cliff

We ate lunch after getting our hotel rooms at an Italian restaurant.  The pizza was delicious, the service was terrible.  It is a good thing tipping is not expected in Thailand!  After eating, our group of about 10 people decided to hop on a banana boat, explore the surrounding islands and snorkel for a few hours.  We bought some beers and a bucket of various bottles of liquor and mixers. 

bucket

 

 

The boat took us to many small coves and bays, some we snorkeled at and some we just explored and swam around.  It was so relaxing and beautiful, by far the nicest place I have ever been in my life. 

banana boat

Everyone was laughing and joking around.  One Scotsman named Damien told me he wanted a new Facebook picture, so he just stripped down naked and stood like the captain of the ship!  

damien

People from the UK are crazy, I swear!  I saw some of the brightest fish ever while snorkeling, they were everywhere.  The boat driver would throw in bread and they would swarm around you by the hundreds.  I felt like I definitely had the greatest appreciation for the sea life, because of my previous love for aquariums.  I kept yelling every time I surfaced, “This is the best day of my life!”   It might have been true! 

After a long day in the sun, feeling saucy and relaxed, we arrived back in the bay by the hotels.  That whole banana boat excursion only cost me 250 baht (about $7).  We chilled around the hotels and restaurants for a couple of hours before the fights, continuing our intake of alcoholic beverages.  The streets in Phi Phi are cool because there are no cars or motorbikes, just pedestrians and bicycles.  The streets are all just little alleys; it reminded me of some small European town. 

Now I am not going to lie, by the time I got to the fights I was super sauced.  Actually, just about everyone in our group was.  The fights were brutal and exciting, just what I expected.  2 out of 3 of our guys won.  One of my trainers, that we call “Little Bert” (short for Robert), took a mean elbow, got knocked out and had to get some stitches in the second round of his fight.  An American named Caden (on the fight card they mistakenly called him “Garden”, which was hilarious!!!), knocked out a pudgy Thai in about 10 seconds.  He looked like he was no competition.  I think the guy he was supposed to fight backed out last minute.  Who knows?

That night I ended up going to a crazy beach party and making it all the way until sun up, which I did not expect.  The next day I just lay on the beach with 3 other super hung over friends, it was nice and relaxing laying in about an inch of water, baking in the sun.

 

Another day, another pain… Oh yeah… and a new president!

November 6, 2008

This shit is rough…

I have been training 7 hours a day and it is taking it’s toll.  I now have huge blisters on the balls of my feet from rotating when I kick.  My knees hurt from running, I have a messed up toe from about a month before I left California that just will not get better.  My left big toe has an ingrown toenail and my neck is totally pulled from practicing clenching(fighters grabbing each other behind the neck and delivering knees and throws).  I am gobbling Ibuprofen like its candy and it’s not working at all.

Luckily, I am leaving to go to Ko Phi Phi tomorrow with a group from my camp to watch Muay Thai fights and take a weekend off.  One American is fighting and two of my trainers.  I have heard that Phi Phi is breathtaking, it is part of the islands where they filmed the movie, The Beach, with Leonardo Dicaprio.  You have to take a 1.5 hour ferry to get there, from what I have heard.  We leave at 7:30am tomorrow and get back Saturday afternoon.

It just started raining. It sounds really loud because all of the roofs are sheet metal…

The news about our new president has obviously caused a serious buzz at the gym.  There are not a lot of Americans here so I get asked many questions, mainly how I feel about it.  I am slightly regretful that I missed it in the states, just because it is such a monumental point in history.  It is cool though, to see it from another countries perspective.  I watch it on various cable channels in Italian, Japanese, Thai, French, and on the BBC.  I find it funny that the only American news we get out here is Fox News, I’d much rather watch the BBC.  Yay Obama!!!  I am overjoyed and it seems like the rest of the world is as well.  It’s like they might already see us as a less ignorant country!

I do miss lots of things from home.  Obviously friends and family, but I notice small things.  A hearty cheeseburger or a really leafy salad with some field greens. MMMMMMM!   Thai hamburgers are not only tiny, but they put a slice of ham on the burger (i guess they really took it literally).  Salads are mainly just cabbage and shredded carrots, which is good, but not like some leafy greens (I’m sure mom thought she’d never hear the day I’d say that as a kid).  I miss chatting with American girls and having a good conversation.  Most Thai girls won’t give you the time of day because their experience with tourists has probably just been drunk idiots, but if they do let their guard down there is a language barrier.  They usually just nod their head like they understand, when they really have no clue.

I saw a huge praying mantis today and took some epic pictures, the thing was massive. 

Mantis

The insects in Thailand all look prehistoric, I guess I miss the small ones at home too.

The Internet works shitty here so I get a blog in when I can.  I hope whoever is reading them is enjoying.  Ko Phi Phi, here I come.  It is time to watch the brutal bloodbath that I train so heard to be part of… I can’t wait.

Sore…oh, so sore…

November 4, 2008

I had my first double day yesterday, 7 hours of training total.  I got my ass kicked sparring in the morning with some Welshmen, boxing only, no kicks.  My nose is a little sore today, but besides that I’m good.  I took the morning off today to rest my weary bones. 

Since my last post there have been some good times.  Saturday night I went out to old Phuket town, very different from touristy Patong.  The first bar we went into we were the only foreigners (or “phalang” as they call us) in the whole place.  Every bar there had Thai cover bands that play American songs, it is awesome.  It was a lot more mellow, more my type of scene.  No prozzies, no street salesmen.  Good times.

Sunday we went to Patong beach.  The water was like a bath tub, the sun was like a sauna.  It was fun besides the fact that you can’t take two steps without being asked to buy something: “You want jetski?”, “You want Muay Thai short?”, “You want massage?”, “You want hammock?”, “You want beach chair?”, “You want tuc-tuc?”

It was hilarious, my aussie buddy Leigh was walking and his sandle broke in front of a tuc-tuc driver.  The guy pulls the shitty old sandles off his feet and says, “You buy these, 200 baht!”  I was dying!  It makes you realize everything is for sale in Thailand and everything costs money, even to use most of the bathrooms.

Three buddies and I got massages in Patong Sunday night.  We asked a tourist if he knew a place where we could get a good Thai massage, with no happy ending, no boom-boom…we were just really sore, not really lonely.  He suggested a spot and we checked it out, it was the best thing ever.  200 baht for an hour (about $6), lots of stretching and deep muscle work.  The girls were very nice and did not ever pressure us to do anything or spend more money.  We might make it an every Sunday thing, because its our one day off a week.

There are a hell of a lot of creepy crawlys here.  All day long Sunday I kept telling the guys how much I hate spiders and I think I jinxed myself.  I got home after my relaxing massage at about 11pm.  I go to unlock my door in very dim light and something very large moves about an inch from my hand.  I jump back and it runs about a foot and stops.  It was the biggest, ugliest, nastiest spider I have ever seen. 

Spidey

I felt a little sick to my stomach, I’m not gonna lie.  One of the guys found a cobra in his bathroom.  If one bites you, you are dead within the hour.  I have definitely been watching where I walk, in the grass by the bungalows.  Apparently, they have a 4 foot range to bite, so I have been looking 6 feet in front of me!

I have been having a lot of problems getting money out of the banks here which has been stressful.  You would think Visa works everywhere, but it is something about Wells Fargo.  I talked to the bank for the second time today, hopefully it is good now.

Anyway, time to rest for afternoon training.  I need to stretch a lot because I am really hurting.  Oh yeah, I got a scooter finally.  They gave me a pink one because it was all they had, they said I could trade it for a red one today but I kinda like it…hehe.

Patong, Ladyboys and “Bar Girls”

November 1, 2008

Wow!!! What a day I had yesterday!  I had my first day of training and three and a half hours is a lot more than I am used to.  It was really good though.  Very, very hot and humid.  I sweat buckets, so I will definitely lose my baby fat.  Lots of technique…elbows, knees, punches, blocks and kicks.  The trainers are all total jokesters, they are really helpful and take time to make you understand.  There are about six instructors for a class of ten or so, so you get A LOT of personal attention. 

After class ended at 7pm, I showered up, got dressed and walked about 200 yards down the road to eat at Mama’s Bungalows.  I got a huge chicken salad and a banana shake for 100 baht (about $3.30).   I saw a huge centipede about six inches long, the thing was super creepy. 

centi

Also, I love these little geckos, I wish I could take one home! 

I met up with about five of my new buddies at Mama’s: a couple of Americans (one from Santa Rosa!!!), a couple aussies, and a couple dutch guys.  We made the trip to Patong for a crazy Halloween night, I was told the place is “a third world Vegas”.  I thought I had prepared myself for what I was going to see, but I had no idea.  Literally, hundreds of prostitutes (or “bargirls”), street merchants, beggars, ladyboys, and tourists.  We arrived by taxi, one aussie was wrapped in toilet paper dressed as a mummy, one american had a little zebra tied to his crotch like he was violating the thing.  He called himself a farmer! What!?!  We hit some bars, girls were everywhere, hootin’ and hollarin’, grabbing at me, trying to reach in my pockets.  I went to take a piss, and got a funny surprise.  The bathroom attendent, after I had done my business, turns on the water, gets paper towels ready for me, and then while I dry my hands, he cracks my neck, massages my shoulders, and pops my earlobes (if you can imagine that!!!).  At first I thought it was a guy trying to violate me, but then I realized this is how dude makes a living.  He had a little tip basket, with no money in it.  He kept saying, “relax”, and I was like, “I’m getting massaged in a men’s bathroom in Patong.  I can’t relax buddy.”

We then moved on to a bar called Seduction that was having a Halloween party.  It was all you can drink for 500 baht (about $15).  I let my comrads get all you can drink and just drank from their buckets once they were too drunk!  I danced with a beautiful South Korean girl for like a half an hour, it was really fun. 

korean

She kept saying, “You vewy handsome Amewican boy!”.  She was with a group of like ten Koreans.  In the middle of a dance a dude in her group came up and grabbed her by her arm and yanked her away, maybe her boyfriend (or maybe he wanted to be her boyfriend?).  Either way that was that.  After a couple of hours of drinking, dancing, laughing, and walking we went to grab some food.  This is the part of the night where I realized Aussies are truly nuts!!!  We were eating Italian food (believe it or not), this dude had a plate of spaghetti.  When he got up to go to the bathroom, he left his last couple bites on the plate and said, “nobody fuck with my food”.  Not the thing you want to say to a couple of drunk dudes.  His Aussie “mate”, pulled a fresh condom out, opened it, and put it in the spaghetti.  I voiced my disgust and said I thought it was wrong, but it didn’t matter, he said, “Don’t worry I won’t let him eat it”.  When he returned, he sat down and stabbed his last bite of food.  The guy goes, “I wouldn’t eat that if I were you”, he replies, “Oh fuck off, you didn’t fuck with my food and I know it.”  He takes the whole bite, everyone yells, gasps and laughs and he still thinks we are just messing with him.  He doesn’t even chew and swallows the condom whole.  WHAT!?!?!?!  I was shitting myself!!! Aussies are crazy!!!!!  He still won’t believe us, even once we told him.  I guess he will find out today!!! So wrong… I could never do that to someone!  They just laughed it off and had a beer together…oh well.

At about 3am, I was ready to go to sleep and so were two of the other guys.  The last two wanted to stay!  I don’t no when they went home or who with…sketchy.  We got a tuc-tuc back to camp and I crashed hard.  I don’t think I can do many more Patong missons, the place is overwhelming…

Now it is Saturday and very hot. I have decided that I will need a motorbike, because you have to take a taxi to go pretty much anywhere.  A motorbike is 4500 baht for a month(about $135) and you can get them at camp.  Everybody has one here, Thai’s and foreigners.  I just need to be very careful, because people drive on the opposite side of the road here and they just drive crazy anyway.  There is like a ten second grace period on red lights here, fucking nuts!!!  No drinking and riding…

Two days here and already so much to take in….Wow!