Work Hard, Play Hard

I’d be lying if I said I made it to every class but I have learned so much and could not have asked for a better, more authentic experience. I have nothing but great reviews about the facility and staff, who pushed me beyond my imaginary limits. So what did I do while I was playing hookie from Muay Thai? I drove along the breathtaking coastline and swam through the jade waters at Surin beach.

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40 minutes from Tiger Muay Thai, Surin beach is a true gem of Phuket. While Patong beach is regularly crowded, Surin offers a peaceful alternative. The sky was slightly overcast but the water was still warm. The scenic drive alone would have been worth the distance, but playing in the water was a sweet cherry on top. Parking was abundant and the beach itself was relatively clean.

The tide was very strong, and it was truly a magical day. I am an avid fan of beaches, but beyond my bias I believe the oceans hold the some of the greatest powers of emotional and mental healing. I’ve never known someone who can stand in front of such vastness and not be effected in some way. My mother hates going to the beach, but during some bad days prior to my parents divorce, we sat in the sand on multiple occasions.

Soi Ta-iad was starting to feel like home. Every day, we ate at restaurants up and down the street. We shopped for groceries. We did our laundry. Some days, we drove up to Central Festival Mall for dinner. It was so comfortable and I will absolutely be back. But for now, our time in Thailand has come to an end, and it has gone above and beyond it’s purpose.

As fate would have it, this is not the end of our journey. Sam and I never travel with a plan. It can be stressful at times, not knowing which country you’ll be heading to next. (Can that really be counted as stress though?) Take your guesses.

Tiger Training

We awoke to a rainy morning and quickly packed our things to prepare for the busy day ahead. At around 10am, we took a taxi to The Siam Hostel and got our things settled before heading out to find gear. I had lucked out and found a great deal on gloves at SuperSports in the Central Festival Mall, but I still needed shin pads and Sam needed both shin pads and gloves. Despite being an inexpensive country to travel in, the markups on gear made it close to US price, if not higher. I would recommend bringing gear from the US if possible, but if not, the low price of the classes makes overpaying for gear really not seem so bad.

We also went to Tesco Lotus to stock up on some food for the week. Classes would be going on throughout most of the day, and they began at 7am, before most places opened for breakfast. The street was lined with storefronts selling all kinds of gear. We ended up purchasing our shin pads for 1200 baht, my 12oz gloves for 550 baht, and Sam’s 16oz gloves for 1600 baht.

We went to bed early the night before training and set our alarms for 6am. I went through several scenarios in my head as I fell asleep but little did I know, nothing could really prepare me for what I had signed up for the next day.

I was tired in the morning when the alarm woke us, but my excitement quickly took over. I ate a banana as we walked to class and cleared my head. I payed special attention to stay as present as possible throughout the class to absorb as much as possible. I arrived at the outdoor training area and found two or three students running in a circle. The instructor motioned for us to join the circle and so the class began.

We ran for about 20 minutes, adding different variants to the laps closer to the end. By the time we were finished, I was already drenched in sweat from the humid weather. The instructor stood on a wood platform in front of the class and began to describe the punches we would be practicing, giving each of them a number he would say during combinations. He fittingly called himself Mr. Miyagi, a very special soul. We practiced punches and kicks for about a half hour, as other coaches walked around the room correcting student’s form. We stopped to get water before we were taught fighting strategies. We paired up with other students around our size and practiced pulling and pushing them into submissive positions. It wasn’t long before we were training one on one with coaches, they called out numbers as we performed the corresponding punches and kicks. Then we did bag work, doing push ups and sit ups in between each set. 15 minutes before the end of class we stood up and said our name and where we were from. I assumed the exhaustion was over until Mr. Miyagi gave us 100 more push ups and 300 more sit ups to do. As if that weren’t enough on it’s own, coaches walked around the room with pads, hitting students in the stomach as they did their sit ups to break down stomach facia. I thought I was going to be sick.

We walked back to our hotel room exhausted, unsure of how we were going to complete the second class in just a few hours. I just got my butt kicked, I thought as I could barely stand in the cool shower. My muscles were already starting to ache but somehow, I mustered the strength to complete another grueling two hour class in the heat. It was the beginning of a very long week…

Bus Rides and Ocean Vibes

It truly felt like an eternity before the InterTop made it’s wide turn into the bus terminal. There are two bus terminals in Phuket one in the center of town and one farther north. We ended up at the one further out of town and ended up taking a taxi for 400 baht into town. The taxi driver dropped us off at a central location
and we walked to a place called the Waffle House for some food and free Wifi. We ended up finding a hotel on special just across the street called The Quil. It had a great city loft style with a 50s flare. The concrete floors and tall ceilings kept the room cool and for USD $19 a night it was a steal. IMG_9794
The next morning we rented a motorbike for 300
baht to check out what part of Phuket we wanted to be in. We drove about 30 minutes to Patong beach, an extremely
popular tourist destination, crowded with vendors and travelers. We walked around and grabbed a
smoothie from a drink bar run by a very happy French man. It was hot, but there was a slight breeze and the sky was overcast. We drove along the coast and took in some of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever ex
perienced. As we rode our motorbike along the cliffs edge overlooking the ocean, I couldn’t help but ask myself, how is this my life??!

We had one more stop before we would head back to the hotel, Tiger Muay Thai. Tiger offers training for all levels of Muay Thai and having always wanted to try a martial art, I was intrigued. We toured the facilities and looked into pricing. It was located in fitness heaven, the entire street lined with all kinds of gyms and every flavor of protein shake you could want. The weekly rate for the program we were interested in was just under USD 100. It was too good an opportunity to pass up. We spent the next couple hours pricing out weekly rates at the hotels along the street. We decided on the Siam Hostel, which was USD 17 per night. We would spend tomorrow preparing for our class and begin the following day.

The drive to the hotel felt short as I marinated in my excitement for the upcoming experience. I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew it would leave an impact. Here I am at 21 years old living out dreams I never knew could even exist in fantasy. I’m in awe of this life.

A Day in Hat Yai

It took 9.5 hours, but we made it to Hat Yai safely!

No one can expect a great nights sleep on a bus, but it wasn’t so bad. We chose Inter Top, one of the nicer “executive” bus options, which cost us roughly USD 12 per person. The seats reclined to a decent level and there was a bar to rest your feet on, under the seat in front of you. However, there was no bathroom on the bus, which was extremely inconvenient for those who like to stay hydrated during the night. There were no pillows or blankets on the bus, so I curled up in my seat and used my jacket as a pillow and Sam shared his sleeping bag with me, which we used as a blanket. Without the two, I wouldn’t have slept a wink. Come prepared.

We were woken up several times from 4am onward as we stopped for gas and crossed borders. Our bus wasn’t full, but ours was one of several to be crossing the border in the early morning, so we did have to wait in line for about 45 minutes before we got back on the road. We ended up making it into town at around 9 am.

When we finally arrived in Hat Yai, we posted up at a Starbucks to make some plans for the rest of our stay. We ended up staying at V-Ocean Palace. It was a fair value for the price and in a safe section of town. The hotel unfortunately ended up being my favorite part of Hat Yai. After checking in, we took some showers and rested up from our long night of travels before heading out to find some dinner and finding bus tickets to Phuket.

It was raining when we woke up so we took a TukTuk to a small shopping center closer into town to get some lunch. Through a “miscommunication” (rip off), we ended up paying the TukTuk double what he had quoted us, it took us nearly four hours to find lunch, it was raining, and Sam was catching a cold. We were frustrated, desperate for a fresh meal, and tired from having walked all over town. Everywhere we went it seemed the locals just wanted to make an extra buck and we went back to our hotel without bus tickets for the next day to Phuket. We spent the evening with a couple jugs of orange juice and made the plan to arrive at the bus station the next morning and hope for the best.

We arrived at the bus station at 8:30am, and as luck would have it, the next bus was departing at 9am. It was a double stacked executive bus with a bathroom and about half the price of what we were being quoted in town. We got some drinks and snacks and boarded the bus shortly after 9. 7.5 hours later, we arrived in Phuket…

Coming Soon: Team Nessa in Asia

Plans have been made and tickets have been purchased!

On June 17th, we will fly to Bali, Indonesia from Vancouver. We’ll stay roughly five days, at which point we will fly to Phuket, Thailand. My goals in Thailand are simple: personal growth, business development, and life experience. The balance of these goals is what I would label my own recipe for all encompassing success. Your recipe may be different from mine, and may morph over time as your circumstances change. Although I may seem to just “go with the flow,” I trust that there is no such thing as the wrong path. You and I are consistently in an experience of enjoyment and learning. Occasionally, we get so distracted by thinking we must plan everything that we forget to just “be.”

A recent example would be that for the past month, we had been preparing for a different journey entirely. However, we refrained from buying tickets. We held off until three days ago, when hours before we made our purchases, we drastically changed destinations. Taking this new route would require some sacrifices, but the shift felt necessary. It didn’t take much pondering to be convinced.

The sequential preparations for our new destinations all landed in my favor. I got an unbelievably affordable new storage unit that would fit both my car and the contents of my other storage unit, my airline miles covered the entire cost of my ticket and insurance, and currently 5 days before my trip, I have almost everything organized and ready to go. If you are unsure of something, ask yourself for the answer and it will reveal itself, because the answer is already known. You will know when you’ve been met with the next piece to your puzzle.

Five days and counting!