Covered in tiger balm in Pai

Pai, Thailand
Today is my seventh day in Pai and my fifth day of Muay Thai training. Our training is four hours each day, 8am – 10am and 3pm – 5pm. On Tuesday I skipped the morning class and today I’m going to skip the afternoon class – I’ve never trained this intensely and my body is feeling it! My muscles are sore – stomach especially, also arms, shoulders and legs. I also have bruises all over my shins and this morning started to get a sore knee from all the kneeing! Of course my hips are feeling it too – I managed to pick a sport where all power comes from the hips, but I’m dealing with it. Bought some tiger balm last night for my hip and bruises and I’m loving it. Doused myself in it after training this morning then went to meet a friend for lunch feeling like a walking tub of tiger balm.
Each training session consists of a warm up (bike ride/skipping) for about 15 mins, then stretching, then technique, then up into the ring for 3 x 3 minute rounds with a trainer practising everything – punching, elbows, knees, kicks – it’s really a whole body sport. Then we usually do a circuit that involves things like punching bags, weights, skipping and sit ups where a trainer hits you in the stomach with a pad each time you sit up. Apparently it’s to condition your stomach for being kneed and it bloody hurts so much. After that we usually get into groups of three to kick a punching bag 50 times each leg – two people kicking while one person holds the bag steady, and rotate. 
Then comes the ab workout – the moment we dread. At the end of every session – ie twice a day – we have to make a circle in the ring and do a bunch of ab exercises like sit ups, side situps, holding legs in air, plank, plank each side etc. We usually do ten different exercises, and for each one we have to go around the circle each person counting to ten. Typically there are about 15 people in the group meaning that we do 1,500 stomach contractions. I’m talking 3,000 crunches a day. Now can you understand my stomach pain?!
Finally we stretch it out, and I walk home to shower, go find a massive meal for brunch, go back home to read/write/sleep/listen to music and wallow in pain/exhaustion, then at 2pm my alarm goes off and I get into some fresh gym clothes, eat a banana and walk back to the gym for the afternoon session. Basically my time consists of exercising, eating and sleeping. I’ve got a great routine going on though and I’m loving it – feeling really settled and even thinking of staying an extra week! We’ll see.
Have met some really good people from training, there’s lots of beginners and about a third of the people training are girls. I’ve had plenty of company for lunches and dinners, and the gym is like a family – this Saturday night we’re all going there for a BBQ for one of the trainer’s birthdays. The trainers are all really funny and lovely – Bee runs it, his brother Ay helps (they have another brother but sadly not named Cee lol), then there’s his sister Tay, and Turbo, Charlie and Tree. Tree is always dancing, and pretending we’re in the army and hitting us with this bamboo switch he carries around – pretty hilarious (but painful!).
Pai is an awesome place to be based for a month – it reminds me of Byron Bay. Touristy but beautiful, chilled out and full of cool bars and amazing food (am trying to restrict my drinking to Saturday nights though). Lots of hippies and expats, and everyone is very friendly so between the people I’ve met from the gym, from my accommodation and from bars, I can’t really walk down the street without running into someone I know which is nice. It helps that there’s only about three main streets.
My accommodation is very basic but I have an ensuite room to myself and it’s super cheap. Even has hot water which is better than some places I’ve stayed so far! It’s a fifteen minute walk to the gym but is smack bang in the middle of town which is awesome. I’ve already sussed out the best places to eat within a two minute radius.
Weather is hotter and wetter than I thought considering that we’re going into the dry season and winter. Bee told me that by the end of the month it’s going to be very cold, but considering that it still feels about 30 degrees during the day I don’t really believe him.
I’ll wrap this up now – won’t always be writing so much but had a bit to update on!
xxx Sasha

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