Pai is the first place where we stayed put; we’ve been here 12 days altogether.
I guess I benefitted the most out of the stay, as we came here particularly for the Muay Thai boxing training. I signed up for a whole week, whereas Lucas did only two classes, two classes that were enough to make him realise how unfit he was. I’ve never seen him done such intense cardio, not with me anyway; moreover, I’ve never seen him sweat like that and marked with so much exhaustion. I’m glad he did it. I hope it was more for him than for me.
They do two classes a day – the first class is from 8-10 and the second one from 3-5.
Having paid for them, I was strongly motivated not to miss one single class, no matter how sore or how tired, despite dreading daily exercises such as clinching and the 6km run on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The training does push you past your limits by hardly giving you any break during those 90min of intense training. The last 30min is a pure abs workout followed by stretching.
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 10min warm-up -> skipping. The following 80min would go within a blink!
First, you practise your Muay Thai stance and moves before pairing you up with a trainer with pads. He will tell you what hits to make and correct your moves accordingly. It’s probably my favourite part of the training, as he will encourage you (sometimes even jokingly provoke you) not to stop or give up. He will wrestle me and put me down on the floor to show me how much I still need to learn. You practise 3-5 rounds of 3min with the trainer, and no matter how knackered you are, you’ll keep going. 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 be able to twist your body better for the most significant moves. The workout challenges your hips, calves and lower back the most. People who are not used to it might be prone to injuries and have to be careful.
Both jab and cross are more complex than you think. 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.
Later you’ll practise more kicks on the bags, and that’s 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 some form of fuel to hit harder. He is the one who wouldn’t view me as a German but as a Chinese.
Other than push-ups, another cardio exercise involves 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, injuries may still occur if you’re not careful. I bruised the side of my knee as my clinching partner, and I clashed by attempting the same knee attack in which she was faster. Another partner kneed me in the hipbone, which wasn’t nice, 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, of course, I really wasn’t.
I mainly did the classes for fitness and learning some authentic Muay Thai techniques, and I am 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 in places. The trainers were tough on my first day, too, but became nicer as they saw my progress, or let’s say, by seeing me make a big effort. 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 (2-week cold and 4-day diarrhea) and the change of diet, I would say that my energy level wasn’t too bad. 2-3 days in, I was more comfortable with the workouts and the people and even stayed for lunch. After 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 sort of clique (that’s the German way of putting it) as well, and I’m usually not good at approaching those. They are still very nice people, and I got on well with them, although I hardly spoke with them. I mainly hung out with the short-term people that night.
I didn’t really plan to go out that night. I merely bumped into the guys on the way home and ended heading out with them. Lucas 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.
Lucas’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. It’s not comfortable wearing an eye mask in a climate like this, either. He has always been a night owl (which is not healthy), but back in Canada, we had more space, and he was more occupied with stuff, such as work or hanging out with his mates. He often had to get up early for work, which leaves him slightly more tired at night. There was some routine involved.
During our time in Pai, he wouldn’t sleep until about 4 am or so. He would be reading or really not able to sleep. He was sick for a bit, too (Chang-over and stomach pains).
Our accommodation was sufficient and fairly cheap, but the cocks in the yard would wake us almost hourly from 2 am. I’m usually better at falling back to sleep while he isn’t. Beds in Asia can also be as hard as wood, making many sleeping positions impossible for us.
Overall there isn’t much to do in Pai – the centre is only small, and you often walk into people you know. Some stoned hippies won’t realise that they’ve already given you two or three flyers to their bar, and each time, you’d say “maybe.”
I still had a good time there, except for my first yoga experience in Asia. I went to a scam—more to it on TripAdvisor.
After the Muay Thai training, we hired a scooter and drove for some hours outside of Pai. We visited the canyon that is popular for sunsets, a small waterfall (the water wasn’t the cleanest) and some coffee places. Lucas 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. The herb-based repellents only work to some degree but are still healthier and less toxic than DEET. I would spray my limbs, neck and upper back and 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 would be digesting your blood.
I realised that I need to practice Vipassana again and focus on the sensations of my body. I often notice when something is on my skin, not to mention biting me! As a kid, I remember the sound of mosquitoes buzzing around my head, and they would always find a way into my mosquito net. Over the years, mosquitoes pretty much died out 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 for days before they fade into a light brown-ish bruise. Terribly enough, that bruise wouldn’t disappear in months.
I am now writing from Kuala Lumpur.
I was sad leaving 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.
More news soon.