( @tigermuaythai )
I am no stranger to early mornings so Thursday waking up at 7am to meet at Tiger Muay Thai and head to the beach with Ocean Bloom’s bodyfit class wasn’t a big deal. It clearly wasn’t a big deal for the 30 or so others that joined to get a great workout in a beautiful setting. I was seeing more and more options for people to change up their workout routines from fight training as I spent more time around the camp.
Ocean Bloom is an individual who moved out to Thailand about two years ago.. On top of being super hot and in amazing shape, she’s got insane resume that covers fitness, modeling, stunts, teaching, yoga & much much more! She teaches a body fit class every day including 2 field trips a week, as well as yoga at Tiger. Check out her website at www.oceanbloom.com
The group piled into two large taxi vans and headed to Nai Harn Beach in Phuket about 15 or 20 minutes away from Tiger Muay Thai. The beach was quiet but the resorts were getting ready for the crowds that were sure to arrive over the next few hours. Ocean pointed out the facilities and did a small introduction for people who hadn’t taken her class before and then jumped right into it by having the group warm up. The warm up consisted of a run to the opposite end of the beach. Me being lazy grabbed my long lens in preparation for their return.
Over the next hour and a half, I shot photos in the rising heat of the day as she ran the class through torturous routines and circuits; none for the faint of heart or ones who fear getting dirty. Many of the exercises were based on team work as well; each taking turns carrying a tire over their heads, throwing it back down the lenth of the beach, or dragging each other through the rising surf.
When all was said and done, the participants lay panting, covered head to toe in water or sand. Fortunately nearby (as with everywhere in Thailand) there were small carts to buy fresh coconut water, juice, fruit, chicken and any other number of types of edibles. In spite of the beating they had just put themselves through, they all looked more than content.
After getting back to Tiger road, I headed over to Siam Hostel where I was staying. There’s approximately 25 bungalows on the property each with a small front porch and bench on it to relax as well as a place to hang your wet clothes outside to dry. Inside the room there was a refridgerator, 2 chairs, queen size bed, and the bathroom had a separate shower stall from the main part of the bathroom itself. Some of the places we stayed in on the other side of Thailand had the shower head in the same area that the toilet and sink were making it extremely hard to keep things dry. The grounds also boasted a pool which I made use of on the daily.
It was really easy to make friends here and I had met everyone who was staying right around me. John from San Diego lived across from me and he and I ended up on a number of outings together as a result. He quit his job, came out to Thailand to train at Tiger Muay Thai for a couple months, and then has plans to return to San Diego and take up real estate. I met him at Siam around 11, and we took off to Ja Ja’s for lunch before grabbing a cab to phuket town to explore and take photos; he is a photographer as well. http://jcnimages.com/
The cabbie dropped us off on Thalang Rd in the heart of Phuket Town. We walked around and were amazed by the multicultural influence. There were at least three Wat’s (buddhist temples) there, but I would say at least 10 Chinese temples in the area as well. Add to that a ton of Indian influence in the stores of dresses and fabrics. We shopped around and took photos; my eyes drinking in every detail I could- searching out my next shot.
I was keen on purchasing an amulet for myself and went in search of Amulet Alley; a tiny alley selling the charms supposedly blessed by the monks. Tell you the truth, I wasn’t sure if as a female I am even allowed to wear one should I want to. Needless to say, we found the tiny bypass and I looked over their wares but couldn’t actually pick one out. We continued on our walk in search of street vendors or a market to satisfy our fancy.
We kept walking towards the water and came across a street filled with fruit stands; it was hot and a coconut water was necessary as well as a few fruit purchases. The walk kept us going until we reached a small community called Haad Sansuk directly on the water. Without hesitation, John and I headed into the “neighborhood” mostly observing rather than taking photos there. Many of the homes were so dilapidated, it was amazing that they were standing. I snapped a few photos of some abandoned ones, but other than that just wandered down the streets; my eyes drinking in everything they could see.
Many of the people of this community were in front of their houses and just stared at the two foreigners in their midst. I made an effort to start greeting them in the traditional thai way, and before long saw nothing but smiling greetings back. I had learned that no matter how little Thai I knew, the littlest effort went the longest way. We reached the end of the main strip and instead of following the curve we decided to call it a day. We returned back to an amazing Tuk Tuk we had seen parked at a “store/house” along the way and asked for a ride. The man of the family jumped up with a huge grin and shouted something about needing a shower and give him 5 minutes. We shopped in the store as the intoxicated family members attempted conversation with us. I am convinced as we were taken back to tiger road in the party Tuk Tuk that the driver was equally as intoxicated.
Next day I escaped. I had been told how amazing and beautiful Phi Phi island was so I took off with one of Tiger buddies, Anthony. We paid 500 baht for a shuttle to pick us up at 7:30am and take us to the dock, as well as our RT ferry to the paradise.
The two hour or so boat ride gave us plenty of time to lay out and get some sun. Upon arrival at 11:30am, our first mission was to try and find an air conditioned hotel room to drop our stuff at. We wandered through the streets of Koh Phi Phi negotiating a good price. After finding a room for 1000 baht (a little over $30 US), we went in search of food, as well as something to do.
Phi Phi is an island with no cars. The roads are barely wide enough for one; mainly they cater to foot or bicycle traffic with an occasional motor scooter. Their “taxis”, or pull carts were to bring luggage to and from hotels as well as lug produce or other goods through the streets. As we wandered, we noticed a halfday afternoon tour available for 250baht (less than 10 bucks!) so we signed up and then did a little bit of shopping. At 1:30 we met the tour group and were walked through the streets to where we boarded our long tail boat for the day.
The first stop on the tour was to Monkey Beach. It was a relatively short ride and as I saw a boat pull out of the cove in front of us, I could see a number of monkeys descend down onto the beach. The minute the boat landed and we waded to the shore, all I could see was monkey butts hightailing it to the trees. The cove would have been beautiful were it not marred by the trash that had come up on the beach during hightide. We stayed there about 15 minutes but the monkeys never came back down to join us.
Next stop was another cove on the island but this one was huge. The tourist boats were seen across it as we were given 30 minutes to get out and take a swim. This stop was followed by a second one not far away where we got out and snorkled around. The amount of fishes and marine life we saw was quite astonishing although the reef was rather damaged here as I was seeing was the case all over thailand. I asked about it and was told between the Tsunami 8 years ago and the heatwave they had more recently, the coral had been damaged severely with probably no chance of ever growing back. How unfortunate!
We continued on to the famed Maya Bay, the location where they filmed the movie, The Beach. I have to admit that if I had decided to go to a random beach on a normal day, the amount of people there and the facilities wouldn’t have fazed me. The fact that we were at such a “secluded spot” and there were countless boats and people, as well as snackbars, camp grounds, and chaos was a bit disappointing. Take that out of the equation though, and the beach and bay were gorgeous. We got to snorkel one more time at Turtle Bay before the boat stopped and we sat in quiet watching the sunset over the ocean.
When we got back to Phi Phi Don, it was dusk. Tony and I were starving, but I wanted to buy something to wear out that night. We had no idea what a party destination Phi Phi was before we got there so didn’t plan accordingly. After finding something to wear, stuffing our faces, and then getting ready, we headed out on the town!
Our first stop was to The Reggae Bar where they hold live muay thai fights. The prize? A coveted bucket with your choice of alcohol and mixer! When we walked into the place, there were thai guys going head to head in the ring; it wasn’t long till there were drunk bar patrons taking their turns. We stayed about an hour and then spent the rest of the evening exploring every spot we could find on the island. This brought us to about 2 am when we called it a night.
We were up early the next day to pack up and catch the first ferry out. I kept snapping away; amazed at the color of the water and the amount of fish that you could see just looking over the dock. The 2 hour boat ride was a tanning/napping session for us and most of the worn out party goers. I spent the rest of Saturday afternoon after I got back hidden behind my computer trying to catch up on work. The internet was finally working well at Siam hostel!
Saturday evening, I had made plans to head into Patong with a LARGE group of people from Tiger Muay Thai. It was St Patties day and we were headed to Scruffy Murphys. While we all arrived at the same time to Patong, the torrential downpour as well as the chaos of Bangla Rd caused us all to converge on the bar at different times. I decided my mission that night was to shoot as many photos of Lady Boys as possibly. I would soon find this was one of the easiest tasks I could set myself.
Bangla road somewhat reminded me of Revolucion in Tijuana, MX.. The bars with drunk people spilling out into the street, the hustlers out front trying to drag you inside with promises of hot girls, or ping pong shows. Alas, I never ended up making it into a ping pong show that night; I’m going to have to save that crazy experience for a future trip. After about 45 minutes I found my way into Scruffy Murphys in just enough time to catch photos of Kitty doing drunk pushups on the floor.
The party was in full swing with our group already.. And an amazing cover band with a ridiculously hot singer kept the crowd rockin’ all night. After a quick study, I decided she was a definitely female although there were questionables floating through the crowd. I didn’t stay long and wandered out into the street in search of more adventures.
John and I walked down every side street imaginable. We were snapping photos and just watching the mayhem which as the clock ticked closer to midnight, got more and more out of control. We went as far as Bangla Muay Thai Stadium and caught the tail end of the night market. We actually never made the market instead we got side tracked by street vendors selling made on the spot pad thai.
We headed back to the main drag towards Scruffy Murphys and ran into my Full Moon Party group of friends. So we tucked in with them and headed to a nightclub called Seduction. This place was hidden in a side street and I have to admit was the most American Style club I had seen thus far. Ironically, the whole group from Tiger was already there letting their hair down.
Somewhere time was lost track of, and somehow we got talked into heading to Suzy Wong’s. This infamous strip club is so well known because of your ability to walk in and beat the strippers with foam tubes. Watch out though, these girls will turn around and beat you right back. The whole niche is highly entertaining and instead of beating the girls, I turned and beat the boys in our group. Of course I have no photos of this part of the night.
My efforts to shoot lady boys hadn’t gone unnoticed. At one point one of them attacked me for taking her photo, which I have to admit, I fully deserved! I walked away with a minor scratch from her perfectly manicured nail as she chased me down the street! By this time, I was tired and so were a few of the rest of us. A number of our group had definitely been lost, but it’s like being in Vegas, everyone shows up back at the hotel by the next morning; or so you hope! A few of us grabbed a tuk tuk back to Tiger road; if you’re wondering what’s going on in the final photos, that’s Duncan Tuk Tuk surfing- yup, the vehicle was going full speed as he hung out the back of it! It was at least 4am by the time I crashed out..