22/08/16 – 09/09/16
I’ve collected all my thoughts into one post as my time here at Sumalee was somewhat repetitive. I decided I wanted to try out Muay Thai training since I saw a fight in Bangkok and thought it would be a great way to work out and get fit before I headed home. My plans changed a fair few times and it ended up that I was to train 2 months before I went home.
My research into where I was going to train was long and confusing. There were too many places to go!! I decided to stick with Phuket as it seemed Bangkok was for the serious fighters and Chiang Mai only seemed to have gyms where you visit on a class by class basis. I had heard about Tiger Gym in Phuket which offered accomodation and many classes as well as Muay Thai but upon reading reviews it didn’t seem like somewhere I’d enjoy staying (many men into the sex tourism, steroids..). I then found Sumalee which is run by Lynne, which rang well in my ears as having a woman in charge would make me feel a lot safer. It was also in the middle of nowhere, which I actually liked the sound of as there would be less people who wanted to go out drinking all the time rather than train. There was also the option of taking yoga classes, this was a ding ding moment for me.
In the end I emailed lynne with my multiple annoying questions and ended up booking just under 3 weeks worth of training with one week of yoga. I was so excited!
To get to the gym it was really easy as on the website there are directions in Thai for the taxi driver and it cost me 650Baht. Once there I was shown my shared room, which had no one in, score! It is pure luxury here having this amazing room, pool and general facilities, especially after backpacking… I rented my equipment too for 500baht in total, which covered my hand wraps and gloves.
Training is 2 times a day, 730am -9am and 4pm-6pm, and nether are obligatory. I ended up smashing out 2 sessions a day for 4 days and felt so mashed up I ended up changing it to 1 morning session a day. If I had enough energy I’d go to the afternoon session but they like to spar in the afternoon and I’m just terrible at all that. Yoga was in the afternoons so I could attend the session in the morning and then stretch it all out later on.
Training at Sumalee was brilliant, we always started off with a 15min warm up which was mainly skipping but you could run too. Then 10mins in we would have 10star jumps, 10 leg pull sit ups, 10 legs to the side sit ups and then 10 normal sit ups or crunches. Then another 5 mins of warming up followed by thorough stretching. We then would put on our wraps (the guys always helped me as I’m useless) and we would shadow for a bit. This was where we’d be taught some new combos and generally it was always one on one with the trainers. Then we’d put our gloves on and it would be pad work. I love pad work, the trainers would shout out what you needed to do and even though I take it as serious as possible it’s always easy to have a laugh with everyone here. Then it would be punch bag time or spar, which I hated because my technique is terrible and I ended up accumulating cuts and bruises everywhere. Once I figured out how to do stuff properly it was definitely less painful. Everyone else seemed to be fine but as a noob I wasn’t too good. Then we would have some technique stuff at the end and then stretching. Throughout the session the trainers would now and then tell us to do 10 push ups or 10 squats, always keeping us on our toes…..
Every single trainer here a Sumalee is fantastic, and made my stay here even better. I wasn’t a number here, and they all knew my name. I specifically loved pad work with Khun and Nooe. Each trainer has his own style and you really get to see it during one on ones.
Yoga was also fantastic, sessions ran from 3-4pm which was perfect if you then wanted to train afterwards. As I was the first student of yoga I wasn’t sure how it would go and if really honest wasn’t sure if the teaching would be any good. I shouldn’t have worried though because Rhian was just brilliant, she had really clear directions and explained how I could improve my positions and where in my body I should focus. The lessons went really smoothly and were just as challenging as it was relaxing, most of all it was great fun and Rhian presented each class with a smile and a laugh. We covered two styles of yoga, power which focused on strength and flowing positions (vinyasa) and ying which was more relaxing but challenging as you whole the positions for longer. I felt great after each session and was sad that I only had a week to do it.
There’s a lot of free time here, I first spent it all in a daze and sleeping the whole time and then I decided I should probaby do something…. I ended up walking to 711 a lot, walked to the boat harbour too where they fix up a load of yachts, and I walked twice a day to Mae’s restaurant just past the temple to eat lunch and dinner for 40Baht a dish. Mae is who I now consider to be my Thai aunt as she fed me so well and offered me so much fruit for no extra charge. She also has the cutest cat…We ended up striking an unlikely friendship (unlikely because we could not speak to each other) and one evening she took me out to a local night market in Phuket town. Her hospitality was amazing, and even though she has less than me she was more than willing to buy me food and drinks. I really wish I could do something for her in return for her kindness and on the last day I tried to give her extra money but she refused it all and instead gave me a goodbye gift! I will miss Mae, she really made my stay more homely.
I was also really lucky to create a friendship with Gai, a Thai girl who came to the morning sessions. She was a bit surprised that I hadn’t actually seen anything in Phuket, but I explained that it’s hard as I don’t drive out here. So she ended up offering to take me out one day which was so kind!
Gai’s mum picked me up and we went off to see Wat Chalong, the big Buddha on the mountain, ate a superb lunch by the sea which had sweet and sour fish, squid soup and padthai. We then went to see the view by the sea, we were hoping to watch the sunset there but it was heavily raining all day so we saw the sights but quickly headed back before the sky opened up. We then went to a couple beaches, but it was getting dark so we ended up finishing the day off at Patong Bangla walk. It’s a bit like Khao San road and Pat Pong merged into one road. Very seedy, lots of bars and ladyboys. We didn’t stay long, and was driven back to the Gym. It was such a lovely day out and I was so so grateful to Gai and her mum, I don’t think I would have seen any of it otherwise! I aways feel so lucky to meet such people and can’t wait for Gai to come to London one day so I can thank her properly.
On my last weekend I also went to the nigh market, a large group of us took a taxi there. I really recommend this market as there’s great food there. I had the most delicious ribs, mango sticky rice and dried pork. It’s a little pricey but I think you have to barter, which I had no energy for. There’s a whole ton of stuff you can buy for gifts to take home, and th guys all bought amulets to give them goodluck in their fights.
All in all it was a great stay in Phuket and at Sumalee, it was like a home away from home. I enjoyed the atmosphere, how friendly everyone was and all the funny various animals. I also really loved the KBS korean tv channel and I got super addicted to all the Korean dramas. The only downside was I didn’t have wifi for week which was more of an inconveniance, but understood it wasn’t something they could quickly fix. I would say to them they need to provide bicycles so us scaredy cats can get around a little bit quicker rather than rent a scooter. I’d love to go back in the future… maybe after training a little more in the UK.