Friday, October 14, 2011

Three Weeks At Sitmonchai Gym

So I've been back from Thailand for about a month now, and I haven't written a thing about my 3 weeks at Sitmonchai.  It's not that I didn't enjoy my time at Sitmonchai, in was in fact an amazing time filled with great people, food and training.  I think part of me was pissed that my laptop broke the day before I got to Sitmonchai and I couldn't blog about my experiences real time.  Then I got home and was too lazy to write about everything.  But I'll just blame it on the fact that I've spend the last month working on the sweet video below, ha.  So instead of retelling all the stories from my 3 weeks at Sitmonchai, you can just watch said professional video to catch all the highlights.  I wish I had taken more video and photos, but oh well.  If you've got some free time and are interested, Jake and Brendan who were at Sitmonchai the whole time i was, wrote a great account here.  The subtitle to their blog sums up Sitmonchai perfectly: "In the town of Thamaka, located in the Kanchanaburi Province, Thailand - there is a family built on dance moves, great cooking and savage leg kicks."

I miss everyone at Sitmonchai a lot, and wish they weren't on the other side of the world so that visiting more frequently was easier.  I didn't get to say a proper goodbye and thank you to everyone, as I left mid-day Monday when everyone was out or asleep.  I had been battling a flu/cold the last week, and I felt myself starting to get feverish, so I wanted to get into Bangkok where I'd be staying 3 nights at a hotel before leaving Thailand.  By the time I got to Bangkok I was bedridden with a fever for 2 days, and the hot shower felt so good on my aching chilled body.  Anyway, I can't thank everyone at Sitmonchai enough for being such great hosts and treating me like part of the family for 3 weeks.  I can't wait to get back...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Fish Garden, Food, and Traning Footage

Fish Garden

One of the other foreigners here at Kittana told me about a fish garden about 1km up the canal.  Yesterday afternoon I decided to walk up and check it out.  I don't know if garden is the appropriate word, it is basically just a feeding ground for fat ass spoiled catfish.  It's on the grounds of a temple, and I think they use the sale of bread for feeding the fish as a way to raise money.


While walking back along the street to the gym I heard a little boy say 'pad thai,' so of course I had to stop and order a plate of $1 pad thai for myself.  I've also been eying up these pastries that one of the street vendors by the gym sells so I decided to get one.  10 baht for a warm delicious pastry filled with some banana custard.  For dinner at the gym we ordered delivery bbq.  The driver shows up on a scooter and brings you two mini grills, charcoal, meat, broth, veggies and sauces.  The grill top has a channel around the outside to heat the broth and veggies while the meat gets cooked in the middle. I failed to get a picture, but here is one.

Pad Thai Cart

Banana Custard filled Pastry
 Seeing as how I missed AM training this morning and half of PM due to diarrhea, I probably shouldn't have eaten all that stuff, especially the spicy thai bbq and cabbage, but I feel fine today, had solid poops, and actually ran 7miles before training this morning.

Training Footage

Here's what you've all been waiting for.  It seems all I've been writing about is food lately, and to prove I'm not just eating myself fat, I decided to get some training footage.  So, here I am after a week and a half at Kittana.

Finally, my laptop took the shit yesterday and so my blogging career may be cut short on this trip.  Maybe I'll find a solution, but if not, updates will be rare here.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My New Favorite Restaurant

I've really come to enjoy my temporary neighborhood here at On Nut 65.  There's a lot of great little shops, food stalls, and restaurants.  There's no foreigners here, so the prices are even cheaper than if you were in central Bangkok.  Between training sessions on Monday the trainers took me to the little restaurant that is at the end of the gravel road that the gym is on.  Actually I don't know if it even qualifies as a restaurant because there is no menu; they only serve one dish.  In fact, I don't even know the name or if it even has one.

It doesn't look like much, and the whole place is made of corrugated metal, but who gives a shit, the food is amazing.  What you get when you sit down is a bowl of coconut curry broth with some noodles and meat or fish if you want it.  Spread out along the table is an array of fresh vegetables that you can add to your bowl as you like.  Everything from green beans, cucumber, cabbage, sprouts, and other stuff that I have no clue what it is.  (I actually have no clue what half the fruits and vegetables I'm eating in Thailand are)

The fresh vegetable spread.
  If you want dessert, they do have that.  It's a Thai snow cone thing, but way better than any snow cone back home.  First you choose what you want at the bottom of your bowl; they have different flavored jelly cube things, beans, fruit pieces and more.  Then they put a block of ice through the shaver on top of that.  Finally they put on the flavored syrup and some creamy frosting type stuff.  Needless to say, I eat one of these everyday between training sessions.

The best part?  The coconut curry soup with unlimited vegetables costs 20 baht or $0.66, the icy desert is 10 baht, $0.33.  Lunch and desert for $1. 

The two owners are super nice to me, and they seem to enjoy explaining to the other customers that I'm in Thailand to train Muay Thai.  At least that's what I'm assuming, because the only words I understand them saying is Muay Thai.  But the woman sitting beside me today spoke some English and asked me about the gym, where I was from and how long I was saying.  It makes me feel special even though they're probably just talking about what a stupid gringo I am.

One last reason why I like to eat here is the two guys pictured below.  They're probably just strays, but they are always at the restaurant when I go.  I love orange tabbies, and these two are especially cute. 

Gym Flooding

As I write this, it is currently raining and has been for a couple hours now.  The flooding here at the gym is reaching biblical proportions.  The owners got a water pump, but after running for 24hrs, it made no difference.  This is a wetland, and you're not going to lower the water table by moving the water around.  They did finally get some sandbags down around the gym and pumped the water out which worked, but this evenings rain has erased all progress. Here's a picture from yesterday afternoon.  I might be filling sand bags tomorrow instead of hitting punching bags.  Oh well, they're probably both a good workout.   

Muay Thai Shorts

Finally, if you love Muay Thai, then you love Muay Thai shorts.  There's also no such thing as boring Muay Thai shorts, or at least there shouldn't be.  The flashier the better.  I decided to pick up a pair of Kittana shorts as a souvenir of my time here.  And here they are:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Flooded out of Training?

This is the view from the stoop of my room.  A pretty large storm hit Bangkok last night, and we got tons of rain.  I think it started raining lightly around 4pm when I started training.  By 6:30 it was a torrential downpour, and it was still coming down when I went to bed at about 9pm.  I haven't been over to the gym area yet, but I can see there is plenty of standing water in it.  I guess if I can get into the ring I can get some pad rounds.  Again, this is what you get for building in a wetland.

The last couple days of training have been good.  Morning sessions I have all to myself, which is like having my own private gym and personal trainers.  The trainers have even begun dropping the F word, and as soon as the 13th.  Its a completely ridiculous idea.  I've trained a total of 2 weeks this entire year, my defense and clinching are shit, and I've got baby soft shins.  Not gonna happen.   

I've gotten into a better routine where I'm not sleeping between morning and afternoon sessions.  I think that may have been due to jet lag.  Now I usually go to sleep around 9pm and get up at 5.  I have plenty of energy, and not sleeping between sessions has given me a chance to get out and explore the neighborhood and hang out with the trainers/staff.  I even went for a run before my morning session yesterday, 4.5miles (7.2km), instead of my usually 20 minutes of skipping rope.  I think I'm going to run 3 times a week and skip rope the other 3.  Too much running will burn out my calves, and I'm still planning to run my first half marathon in November.

Coming up, my new favorite restaurant, stay tuned... 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Photos from around the Neighborhood

Had another solo training session this morning; its beginning to feel like I have my own private gym.  After training I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood and snapped a few pictures.  I've walked up and down the side street that the gym is off of a couple times now.  Theres a lot of little shops, food stalls and street vendors.  I went out last night for some dinner, but it started raining so I had to duck in a little convenience shop before finding some substantial food.  My dinner consisted of a green tea, two packs of cookies, and a pastry, all for just $1.17.  I know I should have eaten something healthier, but I didn't know what anything else in the store was as the packaging was all in Thai and I only recognized the junk food.  I've included some maps to give some idea of my location.

The gyms location in Bangkok.  The Gray blob to the east is the airport.

Satellite view showing the gym surrounded by wetland.

Road Leading Away from the Gym

Abandoned Building mid-construction.  That scaffolding is certainly OSHA approved.

Canal near the gym.

On Nut 65, road the gym is off of.

Local restaurant I've yet to eat at.

Road leading up to the gym

Old Buddhist shrine along the road.

Prime wetland real-estate

Gym from the road.
More to come!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Settled in to the life of a Nak Muay

My lack of posts since I’ve been here is due to me settling in to the life of a nak muay.  This equates to a daily routine of train, eat, sleep, train, eat, sleep; repeat.  Today is Sunday which is rest day, so I’ve finally found time and energy to take some pictures and get some words down.

The first camp that I’m training is Kittana Muay Thai.  It was not one of the camps that I went to on my last trip, but from what I read online it seemed decent, was relatively cheap, and it was close enough into Bangkok that I could get into town for supplies and entertainment if need be.  The camp itself has a very country feel to it even though it's technically in Bangkok.  It is actually surrounded by a wetland and there is quite a bit of wildlife around.  I actually think it was built in the wetland; in the pictures you can see the standing water in the camp (granted it is the rainy season here).

Gym Area

Chill Area, Meal Hut, and Rooms.

View from my door, I'm in room #1.
One of the two gym dogs.

Wetland that surrounds the gym.

Powerplant and squatters across the street.

Wetland bird chillin next to my room.
The atmosphere at the camp here is quite weird though.  There seems to be about 3-4 other foreigners staying here, but they are all pretty reclusive and aren’t training.  In fact, at the last two morning sessions, I was the only one training, which is fine I guess because I get all 3 trainers to myself.  At the afternoon session a few of the local thai kids show up so it is not as lonely (including this adorable 9 year old who I’ll try to get some pictures of). 

There is another person I need to get a photo of as well.  I think he might be an in-law of one of the trainers, and he’s quite the character.  He is not thai, and I think he might be Pakistani or Indian.  At first he looks pretty intimidating because he’s got an intense stare, some grim reaperish tattoo on his chest, and the word ‘evil’ tattooed on his neck.  But then he walks around sometimes in nothing but boxers, a fanny pack and some sneakers.  He’s just staying at the camp and not training, but occasionally he’ll saunter over to the gym area.  Yesterday we got a good laugh as he was attempting some knees on the heavy bag, but was having a hard time due to his fanny pack getting in the way.

As today was my day off from training, I decided to head to the closest mall, Seacon Square.  It in another enormous mega-mall here in Bangkok, that is 4 floors of just about everything.  The only things I bought were some apples at the Tesco Lotus (Japanese Wal-Mart) and a couple donuts at Dunkin Donuts.   

Seacon Square.  This is only the open atrium area, the mall is way bigger then this.

  I'm off to go eat, and hopefully I'll get a post in before next Sunday, but maybe not. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

What Am I Forgetting?

It is hard to pack for 6 weeks of travel without feeling like you're forgetting something.  The last time I was away for this long was when I had to do a 7 week field course in New Mexico and Colorado as part of my Geology degree at NC State.

One of these things is definitely not coming with me...those shin guards will take up way too much space.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I've tried to redesign this blog a little and not have it look so shitty; I think I've partially succeded.  It doesn't seem as busy with the background image, but the title header is a little large.  I suck at (web) design, so oh well.  I've also tried to narrow the focus of this blog to my adventures in Muay Thai, but may throw some other stuff in.

Thailand 2.0

I haven't had much luck finding work, so I've decided instead to return to Thailand.  I bought a ticket on Tuesday, and I'll be there for 5 weeks this time; I leave Raleigh on August 2nd.  I wanted to go back for closer to 2 months, but some indecisiveness and also wanting to go to my cousin's wedding in September resulted in a 5 week trip instead of 8.  My cousin is getting married in Los Angeles, so I'll fly straight from Bangkok to LAX.  This will be nice to split up the excruciating 25+ hours of flying to get from Bangkok to Raleigh (its still about 17hrs to LAX from BKK).

I'll be spending most, if not all of my time on this trip staying at and training at Muay Thai camps.  A lot of the gyms not only offer training, but also have accommodation on site that often includes meals, wifi, and laundry.  I still have a lot of planning to do in terms of deciding what camps I want to train at, if I want to stay at one camp the whole 5 weeks, if I want to stay in Bangkok, head to the southern islands, or maybe a gym out in the sticks.  Hopefully I will have come up with a tentative plan by the end of this week.

To finish the post, here is the video that was the result of my last trip to Thailand.  It was all filmed and edited by Will and Mark at

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thailand Day 7: Chinatown and TUFF

Day 7 was our final day of training, and my last full day in Thailand.  We had an afternoon training session and the morning free.  I got up fairly early at about 7 because I had some banking issues to take care of.  The day before I had tried to get money from the ATM, but my card was declined.  Upon checking my account online, I noticed that there was over $700 worth of dry cleaning charges in London and my account had been put on hold.  It actually happened two days before I left, so I don't think it had anything to do with my trip, just bad timing.  Luckily I had some American dollars that I was able to exchange for Baht so I could have money for the last couple days.

At 10, I met up with some of the guys and we headed into Chinatown to do some shopping.  We went to what I will refer to as the Chinatown Underground.  We were the only foreigners in there, and its the kind of place you won't find unless you know its there; for good reason.  Anyway, I did end up scoring the entire Planet Earth series DVDs for less than $7.

Our afternoon training session was back at the TUFF camp to be followed by another BBQ.  Sticky rice may have met its match in the exploding fish balls that they cooked for us.  They were small pieces of fish that were fried, but chewy and not crispy.  Dipped in Thai sweet and sour sauce they were delicious! After dinner, our filmers Will and Mark jumped on the bags and pads to get a little Muay Thai experiance.

Mark Working the Bag

Will on the Bag

Will hitting the pads

The next picture is of me with the driver of our van, Khun Plug.  The man was incredible at navigating around Bangkok and knew every side street to take to avoid traffic.  I also don't think he got lost once unlike the other driver we had for 2 days who got lost every time we went somewhere.  He would even suggest places for us to eat which would always be fantastic.  We ended up nicknaming him Mr. Bangkok.

 After the bbq at TUFF, we headed back to the hotel for some farewell drinks as we'd all be heading our separate ways.  It was sad that our trip was over, and it definitely went by too quickly.  I couldn't have asked for a better group of 6 guys to travel and train with in Thailand.  I already can't wait to get back to Thailand, and hope to someday spend a longer time training there.  Having experienced training Muay Thai in Thailand is going to make it hard to go back to a gym in Raleigh.  A little after midnight I said my farewell to the guys, Mai, Adrian, Mike, Jack, Will and Mark and headed to bed.  I had to be up at 4:30 to make my 8am flight.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Thailand Day 6: Kiatphontip and Chatuchak Market

Finally got diarrhea!  It wasn't that bad actually.  I woke up felling fine, but started to feel a little queasy during the van ride to Kiatphontip gym.  As soon as we got to the gym, I had to go to the bathroom and knew right away it was going to be bad.  I wanted to get some training in, so i skipped rope, shadowboxed, drilled some technique with the trainer, did a round of padwork and then a round of bagwork.  At that point I started to cramp real bad and get a headache; I decided to take it easy then.  Fortunately one of the foreign fighters at the camp had some A/D and charcoal tablets.  That seemed to settle my stomach and I was able to get in a couple more rounds on the bag.

This is generally what happens when gringos clinch with Thais.

Rambutan fruit was our workout snack.

After the morning training we headed over the Chatuchak market which is the largest market in Thailand.  It was overwhelming.  Not only was it enormous, but the walkways between all the stalls were very narrow.  You could easily get lost in the place.  We started out in the live animal section, which was a little depressing.  There was everything from stingrays to owls (alive and dead) to cockfights, and cockroaches everywhere.  On the flip side, there were sections of the market that were basically high end boutique stores.  Its a crazy place. 


One of the more open areas of the market.

Coconut ice cream served in a coconut.

This dog was ridiculous.  Shoes and jeans, really?
After spending a few hours at Chatuchak, some of the guys went for another Thai massage.  I opted out for a walk and nap instead.  The rest of the evening was pretty low key; we just ate dinner at a restaurant across the street from our hotel.  We get to sleep in in the morning so hopefully I can get some rest and have a good training session tomorrow.

Thailand Day 5: Kaewsamrit and Ghost Door

Our morning training session was at Kaewsamrit and it felt like the toughest session yet.  It was probably a combination of fatigue from the 3 previous days as well as their regimented style of training with conditioning drills built in.  I liked it though.  We got to work on a lot of flashy techniques like reverse and flying elbows.  After the training session, an old lady rolled up with her fruit cart which was a perfect post-workout snack.  For 10 Baht or 33 cents you could get about half a pineapple.  Lunch was nothing special as we ate at more of a restaurant type place, but we wanted to be inside in the A/C.

Mike, Adrian and I decided to walk up to the gear shops at Lumpini stadium after lunch.  Muay Thai gear here in Thailand costs about half what it does in the States.  While walking along Lumpini Park I happened to glance through the fence.  On the other side was about a half dozen or so 5-6' or longer water monitors.

Lumpini Park.  The monitor lizard infested canal is just on the other side of the fence.

After gear shopping we decided to relax at the rooftop pool before heading out to dinner.  For dinner we headed to Thip Samai, or Ghost Door Pad Thai.  It is known as being one of the best pad thai places in Bangkok.  It was amazing.  While eating we asked if they sold shirts.  We got some confused looks from the employees, but after checking with the boss lady, she agreed to sell us some that they probably had on hand for employees.  She quoted us 200 baht a shirt (less than $7) thinking it was too much and that we'd change our mind.  We said hell yeah, and when they brought the shirts out, I guess she felt bad and lowered the price to 600 Baht for all 5. We proceded to get even more confused looks, and I guess they couldn't understand why we wanted to buy their work uniforms.  In the end, we got some sweet shirts for about $4.

Panorama from the rooftop pool

Coming up on Day 6, Diarrhea!