One thing you gotta learn in life, especially when you travel is to be flexible. Whether that means learning at the last minute that the guest house you booked has a shared bathroom, (something I am not fond of) or that the boat you are taking to the neighbouring country for your visa run is little more than a glorified dingy seesawing on the angry waters, which leaves you feeling like Richard Parker during his first seafaring adventure.

This is one of the men of the two man crew who runs  those seeking a stamp in their passport between Ranong, Thailand and Myanmar. I clutched my sea sick stomach and prayed we didn't tip over into the water we were swaying so far, as this man cooly cleaned freshly caught squid and every so often gave me the thumbs up sign, which I guess was to tell me not to worry and to stop being such a punk.
This is one of the men of the two man crew who runs those seeking a stamp in their passport between Ranong, Thailand and Myanmar.
I clutched my sea sick stomach and prayed we didn’t tip over into the water we were swaying so far, as this man cooly cleaned freshly caught squid and every so often gave me the thumbs up sign, which I guess was to tell me not to worry and to stop being such a punk.

But, sometimes plans change because of you. Maybe you meet someone who convinces you to go North rather than South, or you volunteer with an organization with the plan to only stay a week, but you end up loving the work so much that you decide to stay for 3 months. That’s why there is no point in over planning or pre paying for activities too far in advance because you really never know what will happen.
Such was the case with me. When I began my Thailand adventure I planned to spend the first couple of months at a Muay Thai camp to get back in shape, and revitalize my dormant Chi after months behind a desk and not nearly enough physical activity. After the camp I wanted to spend several weeks at an Elephant Sanctuary to learn about the plight of, and volunteer with elephants rescued from the tourist entertainment industry. Next, I wanted to continue to travel around South East Asia where hopefully I’d find or attract into my life the opportunity that would allow me to earn some money and continue my travels while working my way through my bucket list. If I wasn’t so lucky then I’d just keep going until my money ran out, then go home and work a little so I could head back out into the wide world once more.

This itinerary may seem fantastical to some, but it’s not as unheard of as many may think. I took my cue from the many stories I’d read on other travel blogs that talked about people who left their home country with sometimes nothing more than a thousand dollars in their pockets and a dream. Years later they are still living the nomad lifestyle and experiencing the wonders of this great earth. Earl of Wandering Earl is just one example of this.

 

Well I made it to the Muay Thai camp, but what happened next was unexpected. I fell in love … with Muay Thai. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Muay Thai is Thailand’s national sport; a martial art also known as the Art of 8 Limbs because fists, elbows, knees and shins become your weapons in the ring.

I love the life of training everyday.

 

I love how old Muay Thai gyms turn into stadiums a couple of nights a week by adding patio furniture to the open space for spectators to watch those dedicated to the art display their skills in battle. Gambling Thais yell and wave their arms ringside cheering and cursing the combatants with cigarettes dangling from their mouths giving the dark smoky gym turned stadium a charged atmosphere.

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Fight night at Grand Thai Boxing Stadium in Hua Hin (by day it’s a gym where you can get Muay Thai training)
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Fight night at Grand Thai Boxing stadium
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Enjoying a fight with some fellow Muay Thai students at Thaiboxing Garden in Hua Hin. By day it’s a gym where you can get Muay Thai lessons.

I love learning about the fight, I love the feeling when I spar with someone and can feel that I’ve gotten better. I love how it challenges me and pushes me outside of my comfort zone. I feel captivated and seduced by Muay Thai, so much so that my initial desire to simply get in shape has changed to actually wanting to fight.

One on one training at Grand Thai Boxing in Hua Hin
One on one training at Grand Thai Boxing in Hua Hin

As much as I’d love to see Vietnam, Laos, more of Cambodia, spend a few weeks volunteering with elephants and much more, my priority has shifted to spending what money I have to continue training Muay Thai for as long as I can with the ultimate goal of having a fight.

 

Before my family and friends freak out, I don’t mean fighting for a living.  I don’t know whether my new found love of Muay Thai will be just a fleeting thing or if it will be something long term.  All I know is that this is something I want to do right now and don’t want to think too much about where Muay Thai will take me after the fight.  If I’ve learned anything on this journey it’s to not make too many plans in the future because things change. Change seems to be the only thing that stays the same, and all I can do is be flexible and be ready.  Ironically being flexible and ready is important in the mastering of Muay Thai.

Have you ever been on a trip and changed plans at the last minute? What made you change your plans?

*Update:  I’ve accepted a fight to take place on January 29 2015…wish me luck.

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