When I first started training with Gai a year ago, I called up one of my friends and shouted, ‘He treats me like a chicken!’. This translates as – I was being taken care of.
Chicken fights can be big business out here and I’ve seen men treat their fowl with more respect and care than I’ve seen nak muays receive at a gym.
Nothing like looking at a bird and thinking, “Wow, one day I want what you’ve got” (minus having a feather shoved up my rectum then down my throat to make weight).
That being said, Thailand is a random place where the majority of the population lives in the present. Great while vacationing, a bit to get used to when you’re trying to accomplish something. My interests in 2010 were to improve my technique/ring intelligence and fight often.
This all was on the radar until one day, a few months in, Gai started working a third job.
His schedule went as follows:
8:00 or 9:00 am – 4:00 or 5:00 pm
– Installing aluminum
4:00 or 5:00 pm (Buriram is a small place) – 6:30 pm
– Muay thai
Midnight – Some Awful Time In The Early Morning
– Working a rubber plantation approximately 40 km away, 2 days on, 1 day off
When I asked how long the third job would last, he never had an answer.
In retrospect, I find it amazing that we continued to train together. Some days he’d show up and I couldn’t tell if he was overworked and overtired, or just hungover and crazy. Some days I’d show up moody and weird. On my end, I was dealing with the isolation of Buriram; often I’d go without speaking literally for twenty hours straight and when words did spill out of my mouth, they were in Thai and usually to Gai, who on some days I could understand, on others not at all.
Gai is Lao Thai, or Khon Lao, which means Thai isn’t his first language, the local version of Lao is. I don’t know how often he even speaks Thai. He’s also the one national I’ve met that a lot of other Thais can’t make out. This includes other Khon Lao. I’ve used some of what I’ve picked up off him with locals and I usually get a screwface accompanied by a “What?”. I then resort to trying to express myself in a different manner. To this day I have no clue if Gai was teaching me Thai, Lao or some weird private language. He told me he’s known people for fifteen years that still can’t understand him.
As a result, we trained, we fought, we threw a dictionary around the ring a lot and we picked ourselves up and continued.
Then, in early December I got hit with a fever. It came and it went. This pattern continued for six weeks. The training slacked. I had developed an ulcer over the year that was inflamed. I then realized, I needed some real time off. Gai and I would benefit from some distance and I wanted friends in this city. I used the time to re evaluate the year. I dealt with the fact that I didn’t fight often, (which ironically is the most telling way of determining whether your technique and ring intelligence have improved). I went out and found people to hang with. I started this site.
Approximately two weeks ago Gai offered me free training – he has a two to three month break from working the rubber plantation. He also offered to try to get me into a good gym in the city, one that provided training twice daily and promotion for when he could no longer train me. Try being the operative word as, as far as he knew, no women have ever trained at my two options. I was in. We started training this week and have only been able to train once – his family called him in to work a sugarcane plantation. Every day I call and he has no idea if he’s working the next. He just knows whether or not he can train me that day.
So where does this leave me? I have no idea. I’ve been training myself – running, swimming, pylometrics, weights, yoga in my room. I also go to the gym and hit the bag. I train twice daily. But my future? How far do I look into it? I don’t know. Maybe I don’t look into it. Maybe the answer is to not let fear creep in and remain open. Accept the natural order of things in Thailand. Live in the present.
Friday, February 25, 2011