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I’m Christie. I created The Butterfly Editions to share my travel experiences and connect with travellers around the globe. You’re in the right place to find plenty of information and inspiration for your future travels. Enjoy!
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Category Archives: Thailand
Although I was really sad to leave my beloved paradise of Langkawi, we had spent a good five weeks travelling through Malaysia and it was time for us to move onwards and upwards through Southeast Asia. I’d travelled a bit of Thailand a few years back for four weeks, so was excited to have even longer this time and be able to explore even more of the country.
We had a few days to kill before we were due to start training Muay Thai at Superpro Samui, so we decided to make our first destination in Thailand Krabi, home to the popular Railay. Railay lives up to the hype, thats for sure! But we’ll get to that.
As we cruised from Langkawi to Thailand's mainland, made our way through immigration and boarded a shuttle bus to Krabi, there was only one thing on my mind. I was hanging out to demolish a giant plate of pad thai and washing it down with a Chang beer...
I managed to sort that one out pretty quickly!
We had chosen to base ourselves in Krabi town, and spent our first day there mostly just wandering around, gorging on delicious Thai food and having a bit of an explore of the local markets. To be honest - Krabi town itself didn’t have much to do, it seemed to be more of just a transit town for those staying in Railay or Ao Nang.
The next day we made an day trip to Railay - a 45 minute journey in a long tail boat took us to for a day of beaching and exploring!
Railay is on Thailand's mainland, however there are no roads to get there - it feels like an island because you have to arrive by boat. Sometimes the sea can be rough, and given the design of these boats you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a bit wet!
There are two sides to Railay, the east and the west, with about a 10 minute walk in between. The side you arrive into, the East, is beautiful when the tide is in - and we were lucky to approach on a high tide as the views were spectacular! However in low tide, this side of Railay is just a giant mudflat…we had to walk about 5 minutes though knee-deep, crab-infested mud (i.e my worst nightmare) to reach our boat on the way back. Womp womp.
Railay is a popular destination for not only beach-lovers, but also rock climbers. From beginner to crazy-advanced, there is something to suit every skill level in these natural rock formations. We watched some people climbing for a while but didn’t fork out the cash to give it a shot ourselves.
We made our way to the West beach for a spot of sunbathing and swimming action. This beach did not disappoint! We have some pretty incredible beaches at home, but these cliff faces were really spectacular! Now this was the kind of beach I was looking for.
My enthusiasm with Railay only grew as we wandered in the direction of Phra Nang beach. I was mesmerised by monkeys lazily dozing high up in the trees, playful cats, uncanny limestone rock formations and jungly tracks to explore.
We had heard about Railay's Secret Lagoon, but after seeing the rather steep terrain to get there and the fact that we were only armed with jandals (that's flip-flops for those not from New Zealand!), we hastily decided we weren't in the mood for risking our lives and continued onwards towards the beach.
If it hadn't already, my heart almost skipped a beat when we arrived at Phra Nang beach. It was spectacular!
Home to the infamous ‘phallous shrine’… essentially an open cave filled with, er, memorabilia…there were queues of people wanting the perfect photo. It was hilarious, but I couldn’t help myself! One couple in particular were taking it very seriously and doing all sorts of poses - it was hilarious!
We were lucky to have a beautiful day but later in the afternoon the heavens opened and we got absolutely drenched as we made our way back to our guesthouse in Krabi town. So much so that we sheltered under an awning out the front of a hairdressers for a few minutes while we waited for the rain to subside. Of course, the rain continued to thunder down so the kind ladies in the salon invited us inside to wait the rain out - they even generously offered us a ride home! Our guesthouse was’t far so we politely declined and made dash for it in the pouring rain. At least it was warm rain, not like that bone-chilling stuff that comes out of the sky back home!
While we both loved Railay and its mind-blowing scenery, we both felt Krabi town itself was a little bit lacklustre. If I were to go again, I'd skip Krabi town altogether and hightail it straight to Railay and Ao Nang - more on that little gem next time!
Where in the world is the most beautiful beach you've visited?
In the two weeks since we left our beloved Superpro on Koh Samui, we have stayed in four different towns/cities, and five different guesthouses. After staying in a single place for one glorious month I had forgotten how much moving around and having just a couple of days somewhere makes you busy, busy, busy!
Not to mention some unfortunate food-poisoning-laced Tofu Noodle Soup, along with the fact we have been spending hours upon hours (upon HOURS) putting together our three-week itinerary to obtain our China visas (which we leave for on December 29th!), my stressed out little brain has had little time for my beloved little corner of the internet.
But I digress!
Though Week 4 of Muay Thai training in Thailand may have ended over two weeks ago... better late than never, right? Let's talk about our final week at Superpro Samui!
Week 4 was a fun one. We knew we were coming to the end of our time there so were making the most of our last few days with our group of friends. We continued to train every day, except Saturday as our bus picked us up early in the morning, onwards to our next adventure!
Classes were feeling easier (though by no means does that mean they were easy!), and I noticed how much fitness I'd gained in the past three weeks. It was still hard to make it to the top of the hill each morning on those killer runs, but it was certainly easier! Since I first made it up without stopping at the end of Week 1, I never once walked up the hill again - a physical and mental feat I am proud of.
The rounds in the ring were also noticeably easier to get through. In Weeks 1 and 2, I was dying by the third round, but by Week 4 I could get through four three minute rounds with energy, even though I consistently sucked at the compulsory push-ups between rounds. I was still being corrected on my form, but was coming out of the ring with a touch of energy remaining, enough to get through to the end of class.
As I mentioned earlier, Week 4 definitely became more about our friends. Training was just a mere side-activity! We enjoyed plenty of dinners out, revisiting some of our favourite local haunts and some last-minute sightseeing before we left.
The most epic night of all was our final night on Koh Samui. Everybody squeezed into our little studio apartment and we ruined the last four weeks of hard work by noshing down on copious amounts of chips, cheese and crackers. Later on we headed out for dinner to one of our favourites: Wine Connection at Central Festival (100 baht red wine, yes please!). Perhaps a few too many glasses of wine and Spy wine coolers later, my head was spinning adequately as I drifted off to sleep. A night of lots of fun and a million selfies, but also very sad to to say goodbye to some of my favourite people. Thank goodness for Facebook, right?
Before we arrived to Superpro Samui, I had absolutely no idea what Muay Thai training in Thailand was going to be like. And I suppose for everybody, depending on your goals and reasons for being there, nobody will come away with the same experience.
However, it certainly came as a surprise to me (and Alan), that not only did I handle an entire month of this full on training schedule in a sport I had absolutely zero prior knowledge about, I really ENJOYED it!
Even when I was frustrated because I just couldn't get the technique right. Even when my alarm bleeped at 7.30 in the morning telling me it was time to wake up. Even when I arrived at the bottom of that damn hill, looked up, and knew that a hellish run was ahead of me. Even when I cried in the shower after my first ever training wondering how on earth I would get through the whole month.
I'm so, so happy I pushed through the pain and did this.
I'm super proud of my month training Muay Thai in Thailand. Not only did I learn some new bad-ass self defence skills, discover a new sport that I enjoy (I don't mind watching the fighting, though can't see myself ever doing that thanks!), and exercise more often and with more intensity than I ever have before - there is one thing that I am proud of above all else:
I did something completely out of my comfort zone, something that scared the living daylights out of me, and I enjoyed it!
That's what makes me proudest of all.
I miss Superpro Samui every single day.
If you are a fellow newbie considering Muay Thai training in Thailand, or even if you have never considered it (like me!), but it intrigues you in some way - go for it! You won't regret it.
POSTED IN: adventure, Asia, Backpacking, fitness, goals, health, inspiration, life, Muay Thai, Thailand, travel, workout
How on earth we are already more than 3/4 of the way through our month training Muay Thai at Superpro Samui is beyond me. I remember Week One going soooo slooooow, but this past week has zoomed by! Where has the time gone and can I have it back now please?
I took training a lot easier this week, after spending last Sunday hobbling around feeling sorry for myself. Two hours of morning Muay Thai training, followed by two hours again in the afternoon, before compulsory Saturday night drinks and dancing on the beach (because hey, I'm on a tropical island), apparently makes for one sore left hip that plagued me for much of the week. Kicking, of which there is plenty in Muay Thai, was not possible for a few days!
I skipped Monday entirely, then took it easy for the rest of week with just one class a day. Ha - its funny how 'taking it easy' was still 10 hours of training in a single week, which is more than I'd EVER do at home! But its all relative I guess.
I was kind of kicking again by Wednesday, and by Thursday was almost back to normal. But then Friday I turned the ripe old age of 25 (when did I grow up?!?!) and I'm pretty sure that's the first time I've ever worked out on my birthday. Of course, I only did it so I could eat without guilt all the cheeseburgers, milkshakes, cake, lollies, chocolate, chips, cheese and wine....that I may have consumed over the course of the day! Needless to say, getting up on Saturday morning for Muay Thai training was quite the challenge so I'm glad it turned out to be the most relaxed class we've had so far.
In terms of the Muay Thai itself, as I say in every weekly update it is bit by bit becoming more natural. Of course I've still got plenty to learn but its surprising how quickly you pick it up when you are training every day in a condensed format like this (as opposed to going once or twice a week like you might for sport's practice at home).
Its funny, because I was chatting to someone here saying how at first I used to enjoy the 20-minute warm up run because it was the part that I could actually do. Now that I can get through the Muay Thai drills without doing everything wrong (more or less, albeit in some awkward beginner way), I actually prefer the Muay Thai part of the class and dread the run! Hill runs suck, why do I choose that route every single day?
On Saturday night we went to watch the fighting in Lamai - there were a couple of women's Muay Thai fights but also three men's fights, and two young boys fighting (which I mostly covered my eyes for - I didn't want to see them hurt!). One of the men's fights ended in a KO (knockout) which was rather exciting and one of the girl's fight in a TKO (technical knockout). Another men's fight also ended in KO and an elbow that had caught him to the eye had his face dripping with blood. Intense much! It was an interesting experience, where its kind of exciting but also nerve-wracking and also rather violent so you're not quite sure how to feel. I think I kind of enjoyed it?
There have been a few goodbyes this week, which is always sad. You have your little group of Muay Thai friends but its always changing as people come and go. It makes me sad to think that its going to be us departing next week - its such a happy little lifestyle here!
I felt like this was a lazy week, but laziness is going to hit me for real when we leave in a week's time to Koh Tao. I am going to do nothing for a few glorious days and soak up every second - just like this water buffalo...
Three weeks down, one to go!
POSTED IN: adventure, Asia, fitness, goals, health, inspiration, life, Muay Thai, Thailand, travel, workout
From six days a week of Muay Thai training in Thailand over the last few weeks there are a few things I have quickly learned are essentials! If you are a Muay Thai beginner like I was (and, uh, very much still am!), read on for a complete list of gear you'll need for your training.
I've sorted this into two lists: Gear, and other essentials.
Depending on your Muay Thai gym most gear can be borrowed, however this can be a little gross and smelly (Muay Thai is one VERY sweaty sport!).
I have a pair of Twins 12oz gloves (pink, of course!). Gloves are sized depending on the thickness of the padding, most gloves range from 8oz to 16oz. It would pay to check with the gym you plan on training at to check their requirements, as some may require 16oz gloves for beginners. I'm happy with my 12oz and would recommend this size for a beginner female, these protect your fists pretty well and I probably don't punch hard enough to get sore hands anyway! I purchased these on Koh Samui in a local Muay Thai store and they cost me about NZD$80. If you buy locally make sure you buy from a reputable Muay Thai store to ensure your gear is authentic. Also make sure you try them on to make sure they fit, they shouldn't be tight, you'll probably be wearing hand wraps underneath so there needs to be some space.
Can be purchased for pretty cheap (around NZD$10) but I've been borrowing mine so far. We wear these for most of the training session, also beneath our gloves. Hand wraps make me feel bad-ass.
At least two full sets of sports clothing
More if you can fit it in your luggage! Two hours of Muay Thai training in Thailand will have you dripping with sweat, unlike anything you've experienced before. Imagine a two hour workout in a hot yoga studio and you'll begin to get the idea! I have two sports bras, two workout shorts and two tops plus a few pairs of socks that I've been hand-washing and rotating. I wish I had more!
Despite being barefoot for all the technique/skill training and while you're in the ring, the first 20-30 minutes of our classes are always dedicated to a cardio warm-up. You'll likely start with a run or skipping rope, if you don't have shoes you'll have no option other than the torture of the skipping rope. Bring shoes and make sure you give yourself the choice of going for a run!
Shinguards (not essential)
Mostly to be worn during sparring to protect your shins. I haven't sparred (don't fancy getting punched in the face, thanks!) so I don't have any - though I do have multiple bruises on my shins!
Mouthguard (not essential)
Again, if you're planning on sparring you'll probably need one of these.
Groin Guard (not essential)
Only if you plan on serious sparring.
Muay Thai shorts (not essential)
Most of the guys wear Muay Thai shorts to training, but can I point out that most of these guys are pros, or have been training for years! I'd like some Muay Thai shorts but am waiting until I feel confident in my skill before I go ahead and buy some. Just a worthwhile note for other females, I have read that the pink shorts are typically worn by the elite - as in you earn the right to wear pink. I don't think it would be too big of a deal, but its probably safer to avoid the pink shorts and choose another colour instead.
This is just to give an idea of other items you'll need over the month that are related to your Muay Thai training. You can buy these along the way and top up as needed.
Remember the sports clothing I mentioned above? Yep, after each session you'll be hand-washing it straight away in the shower/sink and hanging it out to dry for your session the next morning. Washing powder does a much better job of removing the sweat stench (an unfortunate truth) than hand soap. Trust me.
Shampoo and conditioner
Your hair will be so drenched with sweat after each training session that you'll be dying to jump straight into the shower and wash it. If you're training twice a day you'll be washing and conditioning your hair twice a day too. I thought I'd get away with just washing my hair every now and then, but no, this kind of sweat-head is too far gone for dry shampoo to fix.
Dont skimp on drinking water! I feel sorry for people who unknowingly turn up to class with a small 600ml water bottle, which is maybe enough to get through the first half hour of class. Especially in Thailand's heat, you're going to need at least a 1.5 litre bottle per session. Because you can't drink tap water in Thailand, its cheapest to buy them in 6 packs (around 50-60 baht, $2 NZD), and store them in your room.
Plasters, strapping tape and antiseptic cream
Blisters on your feet are common, as is taking the skin off your knuckles. Strapping tape is essential as band-aids alone will slip off the moment you start sweating! Be sure to use antiseptic cream on any wounds as you're standing in other people's sweat all the time - yuck.
You don't want your hair falling out, especially not while you're in the ring with your gloves on - annoying! Invest in plenty of durable, strong hair-ties. On that note make sure your hairstyle is going to work for you - instead of a ponytail, I usually wear mine in a tight bun or a french braid, as I find my hair comes out less knotty after two hours of training. Knotty hair does not make for a happy Christie, Alan will attest to that.
Unfortunately this isn't something you buy, but you'll certainly need it none-the-less. Particularly if you have never done martial arts/boxing before you are going to be incredibly frustrated with your uselessness, just like I was. Instead of being embarrassed every time the trainers come around and correct your form, take what they are saying onboard and try as hard as you can not to make the same mistake again! There is a lot to learn and it just takes time, commitment and patience.
If I discover anything else over the next couple of weeks I'll add it to this list, but for me as an absolute beginner I feel that this covers the essentials. Let me know if you've got any further suggestions!
Would you be interested in training Muay Thai in Thailand?
POSTED IN: adventure, Asia, Backpacking, fitness, goals, health, inspiration, life, Muay Thai, Thailand, travel
I can't believe how quickly time is flying by on Koh Samui. We have been training Muay Thai at Superpro Samui for two weeks now, but it barely feels like yesterday we arrived!
There is no doubt that Week 1 was tough, and both Alan & I were constantly sore and tired for the week's entirety. Week 2 has been SO much better! After working through the initial fatigue, bruising and in my case an almost inability to even brush my hair because my arms were too sore (!), I'm beyond pleased that we have come out the other side feeling mostly like normal people again.
As in, we can train in the morning and instead of being sore and exhausted for the rest of the day, we have energy to get out and about and explore this beautiful island of Koh Samui.
And explore we have!
Since my very first class where I was the only female and only beginner, thing sure have changed a lot over the past week! There are now a number of other newbies staying and training onsite, including a few girls, so I'm no longer alone.
Over this second week I definitely have noticed my form improving and I'm being corrected a lot less which is very motivating, however just in the last couple of days I feel like I have hit a bit of a lull. It feels like my body is starting to catch up with what I'm putting it through and I'm just feeling a little lower on energy during training, to the point where it is beginning to affect my form.
I've trained consistently every day this week so am looking forward to Sunday (tomorrow) off like crazy - just got to get through tonight's session first. Raging way to spend a Saturday night, eh!
In my recap on Week 1 I mentioned the challenge of learning and remembering all the lingo - thankfully this is becoming a lot easier to me now and I'm mostly able to focus on my technique and becoming faster, than simply trying to remember what's what in each drill. Although I still look like an absolute dork in these photos it definitely is becoming more natural!
I'm pleased to say that I've already smashed one of my goals, I'm able to run up the hill before training non-stop, and have done multiple times now. Even though I feel like I'm dying every time I run up, it feels pretty good afterwards! The abs still need plenty of work though...perhaps a few too many panang curries and pad thais? haha.
I know I said this last week, and its kind of gross but I'm going to say it again: Muay Thai training (especially in Thailand's heat) makes you sweat so freaking much! I'm literally drenched before the class is even halfway through. We often do a warm-up drill that involves 100 elbows - left, right, left, etc - and sweat just flies off my elbows each time like a shower, often hitting whichever unfortunate person is in front of me. For two hours straight it's pretty much just drip, drip, drip. Your bag gets sweaty, the floor gets sweaty (and slippery!), everything gets sweaty. SO much sweat. I always thought sweat was disgusting but when everyone else is in the same boat as you, profuse sweating strangely becomes quite normal.
Please excuse my ridiculous concentration/this-is-killing-me facial expressions...
Injuries. Despite the bruising having gone down and seemingly becoming hardened to bleeding knuckles, barefoot training on foam mats has led to both Alan and I suffering nasty foot blisters this past week. I had a bit of a blister explosion while I was on my rounds in the ring (yuck!), it stung like MAD but I could't stop until the time was up. Maybe I'm already toughening up?! We didn't miss any training sessions because of the damn blisters, but it sure made training a rather sore and difficult activity for a couple of days! We even had to get up 10 minutes earlier each morning to have time for taping them up, waaah!
I can't quite believe I'm saying this, but I'm almost SAD that two weeks have flown by and I don't feel ready to leave! Alan and I need to start planning where we go from Koh Samui when we finish up in two weeks (because uh, we've planned pretty much zilch so far), but I'm not ready to think about leaving! I'm feeling settled, stronger and (relatively) dedicated to this lifestyle - I'm not sure where Muay Thai is going to fit into my life once we leave here. Yep, some days I dread training just like the next person, but afterwards, wow! There's nothing quite like accomplishing an intense, two-hour Muay Thai session.
Dare I say it out loud, but I am proud of what I've achieved in the past two weeks of my life, and can't wait to become even more so in the couple of weeks to come. Muay Thai training in Thailand is hard work, but SO immensely rewarding. I'd recommend it to anyone!
I've got a post coming up on all the gear and essentials you'll need for your Muay Thai training, plus I'll also share some links to blogs and websites that I've found helpful and inspiring in my Muay Thai training journey. Keep an eye out!
POSTED IN: adventure, Asia, Backpacking, fitness, goals, health, life, Muay Thai, Thailand, travel, workout
Friday marked one week since we arrived at Superpro Samui, so I thought I'd write a bit of a recap of the first week of my Muay Thai training in Thailand, and share a few things about Muay Thai that are swirling around in my mind.
These thoughts are in no particular order and are possible very random - my brain and body are tired from being used so much over the past week... it has been one heck of a learning curve, thats for sure!
- Muay Thai training is much, much harder than I anticipated it was going to be. I have a new found respect for those who train as hard as this!
- The structure of the class is essentially 20-30 minutes warm up (skipping rope or a run - normally I run up the hill behind us, the view from the top is worth the run, plus skipping sucks!), hand wraps on, warm up drills, shadow boxing, gloves on, drills on the punching bags, 4x 3 minute rounds in the ring with a trainer, more drills on the punching bag, gloves and wraps off, ab work, cool down drills and some stretches. Indispersed with push ups throughout. This goes for two hours with just a few minutes break here and there to guzzle some water. Did I mention it was 32 degrees celsius yesterday? Phew!
- In the first class, I felt way, way out of my comfort zone and completely overwhelmed. I’d never done anything like this in my life, so apparently I didn’t even know how to throw a punch correctly! I was constantly being told by the trainers to shift my position, go faster, harder, etc. Not to mention I was the only female AND only beginner in the class! At some points I wondered if I would be able to stick it out the whole month. The second class was slightly better, as I was more prepared as to what to expect. By the third class I was finishing with an exhausted smile on my face and its been onwards and upwards from there.
- Females are always made to be right up the front! This made my initial class even more overwhelming, as I had expected to be able to stand at the back and copy the person in front of me (and also kind of hide the fact that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing from the trainers). I’m used to being up the front now, though, in fact surprisingly I quite like it!
- There is so much to remember: jab, punch, hook, uppercut, side kick, front kick, knee, elbow, spinning elbow…etc, in forever changing combinations. Its like learning a dance routine when you don’t know how to dance!
- Muay Thai is the hardest workout I have ever done! I used to do pump and spin class at the gym plus run up Rapaki (a giant hill in Christchurch, New Zealand) twice a week. In my uni days I was a fairly speedy half-marathoner. However, I’ve never dripped in sweat quite like after two hours of Muay Thai. It is so hard but so good!
- Each training I guzzle at least one 1.5 litre water bottle. SO THIRSTY. We find ourselves topping up our water supply almost every day, luckily Tescos up the road sells cheap 6-packs of water (but we can’t fit more than one pack on our scooter at a time).
- Despite not sparring, I’m covered in bruises. Both shins, both knees, right elbow, right thigh, right forearm - how did I even get that many? Alan looked over at me the other day and said he could count eight bruises just from where he was standing. Two of the knuckles on my left hand are raw and slowly healing. Alan has been kicking all his life (Taekwondo) so his shins are really hardened to the impact, whereas my body is still just trying to figure out what on earth I’m putting it through!
- One thing that has changed for me already is my goals, and my reasons for being here. Before we arrived I figured Muay Thai would be a great workout for a month, I’d get some of my fitness back that I’d lost after a couple of months eating my way around Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, and maybe even be able to rock some abs in my bikini (in my dreams!).
- Sure, I still want those things, but now I want to achieve SO much more than that! I want get more confident in my footwork and perfect my left kick, I want to punch harder and faster, I want to get through my rounds in the ring without becoming breathless, I want to prove myself to the trainers and not look like a wuss, I want to not struggle when we’re made to drop to the floor for pushups (which happens way too often during class!) and I also want to be able to run up the hill before class without stopping for a breather. Achievable? We'll see!
- Having a comfortable room makes such a difference! We’d booked a simple double room but after some issues with the water pump, we were super thankful to be upgraded to an apartment room which is so nice! Alan and I have been living in close quarters for months so its wonderful to have a bit of extra space, a dining table, being able to prepare some of our own food, and just relax after a hard training session. Of course the palm tree view out one window and the pool just a few steps out the door, helps too.
- I can see how Muay Thai becomes addictive! I feel like I've discovered a new world...I go to bed reading Muay Thai blogs and watching Muay Thai videos on Youtube...is this normal?
Have you ever tried Muay Thai? Is Muay Thai training in Thailand something you would consider doing?
POSTED IN: adventure, Asia, Backpacking, dreams, fitness, goals, health, inspiration, life, Muay Thai, Thailand, travel