The girls and I (my wife, Kathleen, daughter Chloe, 21, and Eleni, age 12) took off for parts barely known about a month ago. They came to see, I came to work, train, and evidently –to eat. Fish, sushi, the best Italian food outside of Italy (or so we hypothesized over our second glass of wine), and Thai food at, well, every fricking corner of every street on every block in every village, town, and city we’ve visited in Thailand. It’s a food city and everyone is cooking and/or eating something.
My Muaythai experience has been fun. The Thai coaches are engaged, funny, serious about their work, and they encourage / push you in a way that I felt was just about right. In fact, so right, I’m going to remember the way it went next time I’m training someone. It’s hot in Bangkok and these little islands I’m visiting, but the coaches know what to do (at least they did at Kobra Muay Thai www.kobramuaythai.com); they have a bucket of water and ice on the side of the mat and about every 15 minutes they give you a break where they soak a towel in it and wipe you down. Then you dip a communal cup into the communal water bucket and drink heartily (hygiene be damned).
The islands are beautiful (I’m on Koh Phangan at the moment) and I think I prefer the outer islands, the (more) remote ones, as the more heavily trafficked island I visited (Koh Samui) was, well…too touristy for my tastes (too many businesses catering to tourists, like me).
Overall, Thailand is beautiful, exotic, inexpensive (compared to, Oh say, Hawaii or California), and very, very friendly. I’ve not followed any of the rules of traveling food safety, brushed my teeth out of the faucet, eaten from numerous little food carts, and drank water and used ice given to me in restaurants, without (yet) getting sick.
Most of the people I’ve met while training at the three Muaythai camps I’ve visited were from Europe, the US, and the UK. From all the photos on their walls and the stories, these camps get lots of tourist-athletes visiting for training and photo opps.
To see the several videos I’m made of my training so far (and some meals too), visit www.BJPENN.COM or www.TomCallos.com. More to come as we head for an unplanned visit to Greece and my family’s ancestral home on the island of Sifnos.
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