Pai is the first place where we stayed put; we’ve been here for 12 days.
However, I benefitted the most from the stay, as we came here particularly for the Muay Thai training. Or I did. I signed up for a whole week, whereas L. did only two classes, two classes that were enough to make him realise how unfit he was, and he gave up. I’ve never seen him done such intense cardio. Moreover, I’ve never seen him sweat like that and marked with so much exhaustion. Still, I’m glad he did it; at least we did something together.
The school does two classes a day – the first class is from 8-10 a.m. and the second one from 3-5 p.m.
Having paid for them, I was strongly motivated not to miss one single class, no matter how sore or tired, despite dreading daily exercises such as clinching and the 6 KM run on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The training does push you past your limits by hardly giving you any break during the 90-minute intense training. The last 30 minutes of the class is pure abs followed by stretching. I always wondered why workouts ended with abs.
I thought I’d be sweating just as bad as during the kickboxing classes in Calgary, but the only time I sweated excessively was during the 10-minute warm-up, which was skipping. Then, the following 80 minutes would go within a blink!
First, I practised the correct Muay Thai stance and moves before they paired me up with a trainer that held the pads. He would tell me what hits to make and correct my moves accordingly. It was probably my favourite part of the training, as he encouraged you (sometimes even jokingly provoked you) not to stop or give up. Then, he would wrestle me and make me fall to show me how much I still needed to learn. I practised three to five rounds at three minutes each, and no matter how knackered I got, I kept on moving.
My trainer pointed out that my body wasn’t strong. He said the same thing to L., and he later figured that the trainer meant our core. You require a strong core to twist your body for the most significant moves. The workout challenges your hips, calves and lower back the most. So these were the areas I had to strengthen. People who are not used to it may be prone to injuries and need to be careful.
Jab-cross moves are more complex than I thought. You swing your left hip as you jab with your left hand, and you twist the ball of your right foot as you cross with the right hand.
I also practised my kicks on the bags, and that was where I bruised my shins pretty badly. I bruised my right knee at some point, too, while practising knee kicks on the pad with the trainer.
“Lean body back!” he would shout each time. One other trainer would humorously bully me, and I would use it as fuel to hit harder. He was the one who wouldn’t view me as a German but as a Chinese, saying it was all the same. Yet, I think he had a crush on me.
Other than push-ups, another cardio exercise involved seated dips, which hurt my triceps (in a challenging way). And you’ll do some back extension as well before the abs exercises.
Clinching in the afternoons was probably my least favourite, as you have to get close and cozy with your sweaty partner. Although it’s more simulated because you’re merely practising it, you can get yourself hurt if not careful. I bruised the side of my knee when my clinching partner and I clashed by attempting the same knee attack at the same time. She was faster. Another partner kneed me in the hipbone, which wasn’t pleasant, either.
I never sparred and didn’t intend to; no one ever asked if I wanted to spar anyway, so I assumed I wasn’t ready, which I really wasn’t.
I mainly did the classes for fitness and learning some authentic Muay Thai techniques, so I’m thankful for what they’ve taught me.
Since I was doing “my” thing, I found myself more outgoing and sociable. I’m not a big fan of the start of things because I tend to feel intimidated as a newbie. The trainers were tough on my first day, too, but became nicer as they saw my progress, or let’s say, by seeing me train hard. I didn’t miss one class despite soreness and tiredness. Given that I haven’t been working out for nearly two months and that my immune system has weakened (a two-week cold and four days of diarrhea) and diet change. I would say my energy level during the training wasn’t too bad. Two to three days in, I was more comfortable with the workout and the people. I even stayed for lunch to socialize.
On my last day of training, I even went out to the bar with some of them. The long-term Muay Thai trainees have formed a clique (that’s the German way of putting it), and I’m usually not good at approaching those. They were the ones that loved to spar; they were still very nice people, and I got on well with them, although we hardly spoke. I mainly hung out with the short-term people that night.
I didn’t really plan to go out that night, though. I merely bumped into the guys on the way home and ended heading out with them. L. came, too, after his football.
The next morning we both slept in. When my body realised that there was no more Muay Thai, it began falling into pieces! I couldn’t move anymore.
L.’s insomnia and nocturnal activities have been very out of order, almost irritating. I don’t usually mind the night lamp or the reading light, but recently it started giving me headaches. And it’s not comfortable wearing an eye mask in this climate. He has always been a night owl (not necessarily healthy), but in Canada, we had more space, and he was more occupied with stuff, such as work or hanging out with his friends. Plus, he often had to get up early for work, making him slightly more tired at night. We have a routine at home. Still, I can’t help but think that we just can’t enjoy the same things together.
During our time in Pai, he wouldn’t go to sleep until about four in the morning. He would be reading until he fell asleep. He was sick for a bit, too (Chang-over and stomach pains). I can’t help but think that it had something to do with travelling together.
Our accommodation was sufficient and fairly cheap, but the cocks in the yard would wake us up at 2 a.m. and then hourly onwards. I’m usually better at falling back to sleep, whereas he isn’t. Beds in Asia are often hard as wood, making our usual sleeping positions uncomfortable.
Overall there wasn’t much to do in Pai – the centre is small, and you would always walk into people you knew. Stoned hippies wouldn’t remember that they’d already given you two or three flyers, and each time, you’d say, “We’ll check your bar out!”
I still had a good time there, except for one yoga class. I walked into a scam—more about it on TripAdvisor.
After the Muay Thai training, we hired a scooter and drove for some hours outside of Pai. We visited a popular canyon with beautiful sunset views, a small waterfall (the water wasn’t the cleanest) and some coffee places. L. was hassling me about scooter lessons, which I didn’t do in the end, perhaps some other time.
The mosquitoes were unbearable in Pai, especially after the rain. They particularly like feasting on your legs and ankles. Using citronella as a repellent only works to some degree is healthier and less toxic than deet. I would spray my limbs, neck and upper back. I recently started spraying my bum cheeks and shoulder blades, too. We’ve killed some mosquitoes along the way — some just disintegrated into dust, and others were digesting your blood.
I realised that I need to practice Vipassana again and focus on the sensations on the surface of my body. I often notice when something is on my skin, not to mention biting me! As a kid, I hated the sound of mosquitoes buzzing around my head. They always found a way in through the net. Over the years, the number of mosquitoes pretty much went down in Europe. Or I just never got bitten again, not until I moved to Canada two years ago. I don’t know what kind of mosquitoes they have there, but the bites would swell up and remain that way for days before they fade into a light brown bruise. Terribly enough, that bruise wouldn’t go away for months.
I’m writing from Kuala Lumpur, by the way.
I was sad to leave Pai. I’d grown accustomed to that town, but another part of me also wanted to go back to Chiang Mai ASAP to continue with our plans and travels. Speaking of which, our plans have changed. It’s all thanks to our eye-opening experience at Charn Chai Muay Thai.
We will now skip Laos and Cambodia. We flew to KL from Chiang Mai this morning, mainly to visit the Thai embassy tomorrow. So we obviously want to go back to Thailand.
(It was obviously L.’s idea to help make the trip more enjoyable for the two of us. I can’t help but think that L. had thought thoroughly about that while I was training. Knowing what “I” liked and trying to accommodate it and make it enjoyable for himself too. Still, I don’t think that anyone would want to travel with me again.)
More news soon.