What I Did In Thailand When I Wasn’t On My Deathbed

Having spent so much time writhing around in pain, I had to fit a month’s worth of must-do Thailand activities into less than two weeks. So here are a few of my favorites… though I suspect you’ll prefer the post of misadventures coming up next.

Muay Thai Boxing

No sooner had I begun to live again (seriously, only hours after eating real food for the first time in 11 days) than I was punching and kicking in a private Muay Thai boxing lesson at the gorgeous Indigo Pearl hotel (and you can also look up other nearby hotels through Expedia). If I’d learned about Muay Thai on the first day of my visit, I would have signed up for a monthlong class. I just know I’d be roundhouse-kicking people in the face in no time.

Mind your face around this guy

The first thing I learned from Khun Tadd, my mega-ripped yet mega-friendly instructor, was that Muay Thai means, “The Science of Eight Limbs.” I soon found out what he meant when we began sparring and his faster-than-lightning arms and legs cut and jabbed me from all sides. How did I defend myself against his swings? By shrieking, naturally.

I’ve never had an instructor of anything laugh at me so heartily (and Lord knows I’ve deserved it –Bev. B anyone?) but then again, Khun Tadd said he’s never had anyone scream bloody murder every time they blocked a punch. By the end of the session, we had a hilarious little system – he’d punch me, I’d scream and block it, then he’d scream just like me and we’d both crack up until kicked me in the shin and I screamed all over again.

Beware, I’m an official nak muay farang (foreign boxer)

Thai Massage

This one’s a given. Sore? Time for a massage. Bored? Get a massage. Sleepy? Have a massage while napping. Hungry? Eh, I don’t like Thai food anyways. To the spa!

Best massage in Thailand?  Check out The Pavilions Phuket

The ridiculous cheapness of massages & other spa treatments in SE Asia is my No. 1 reason for going back (if I ever do.) My back has been in a sad state ever since I left.

Elephant Ride

I waffled for weeks over whether or not to do this, in part out of safety for myself and in part because I wanted to be sure the place I chose had a reputation for treating its elephants humanely. After reading about some recent deadly tramplings, I properly scared myself to death just in time to climb onboard Cindy, a 30-year-old elephant living with her mahout outside Phuket. I have to confess… I only rode for 15 minutes, and I would’ve been happy with 3 – just long enough to snap a few pictures.

I didn’t so much enjoy riding Cindy. Elephants are quite bumpy, especially as I was perched precariously in a bench strapped onto padding on top of her back.  I was sure every grunt from her trunk was a warning that she was about to chuck me off her back and kick me straight in the mouth. Cindy was obviously a veteran; she never batted an eyelash of course… though I was wigging out as we wandered through the forest and into the lake.

Up next… The Misadventures 

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  • July 19, 2011

    Wow, super impressed you tackled Muay Thai Boxing! I’ve seen that stuff on TV, and it looks INTENSE.

    (Also, I went to see HP tonight and the IMAX screen BROKE. So they appeased us by giving Scott and me six free IMAX tickets to use anytime, but it still didn’t help me see HP! Waaah!)

    • July 20, 2011

      It was so much fun – you have to try it! ps – tell me you’ve seen HP by now!

  • July 19, 2011

    wow, they are such graceful animals. I will be absolutely torn like you about riding one when I go to Thailand next year. how did you ultimately end up making sure they treated them humanely? any review/website help you make your decision?

    • July 20, 2011

      I forget where I found the info. I ended up really just doing process of elimination – crossed out anyone with bad coverage or bad reviews and checked that the elephant seemed in good health when I got there. A bit unofficial….

  • July 21, 2011

    I am so sad to hear you didn’t love Thailand (it’s my favorite place on earth, and I’m heading there with a one way ticket in two weeks!) but excited to see you loved Muay Thai! I’m signing up for a month training camp when I arrive and I can’t wait.

    • July 21, 2011

      I was so disappointed! I can’t wait to hear about your trip though… and all your roundhouse-kicking!

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