On the 10th of September we entered Thai soil again. We felt like we had come home. As we crossed Bangkok’s infamous Khaosan Road, I felt like I was in a hidden object. Tuktuk drivers, street vendors, bars and massage studios energetically and loudly vied for the numerous tourists. Music blared from numerous bars and overlapped so much that we barely understood each other. Quickly we pushed through the crowds to our hotel, that was a bit off the beaten track. Happy about the return and the upcoming activities we enjoyed the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. A few days later I started my course in Traditional Thai Massage. Armando flew to Chiang Mai to start a four-week training in martial arts Muay Thai.
THE ART OF MUAY THAI
Muay Thai is a martial art that developed over centuries from the traditional martial arts of Thailand. The first official competition probably took place in the twenties. Fighters used their legs, fists and elbows when weapons were not available. The martial arts became known in the 18th century. It is said that the well-known fighter Nai Khanomtom was captured in the war of Burma against Siam in 1767. Because of his reputation, the Burmese allowed him to fight for his freedom because they had heard of his martial arts. Nai Khanomtom has defeated ten Burmese opponents one after another and thus received his freedom. He returned as a hero to Siam. His martial arts should later be the basis for today’s Muay Thai. Due to the holistic body use, Muay Thai is referred to as the Art of Eight Limbs because there are eight “contact points”: punches, elbows, knees, and kicks.
THAI MASSAGE COURSE IN BANGKOK
After some research and conversation, I decided against a course in the well-known Wat Po Thaimassage school. What I saw and heard about the English language skills and the premises was unconvincing. Instead, I completed a ten-day intensive course at the Pai Spa Massage Center. The premises, the price and the English language skills of the teachers were alright. I was the only student at the time and enjoyed private lessons for ten days. Nevertheless, I would have wished that in the advanced course not the deepening of the routines would have been in the foreground, but the extension of my knowledge about the influence and effects of the Thai massage on the body. In a small bookstore nearby, however, I found a book that gave me anatomical background knowledge. Especially for me as a climber it is interesting that the Thai massage supports the regeneration of muscles after a workout, prevents foreshortening and promotes the flexibility and elasticity of ligaments and tendons.
RETURN TO CHIANG MAI
After the course, I had the choice: should I fly to Myanmar for a week, or stay in Thailand and forfeit my visa. The earthquake in August severely damaged much of the temples in Bagan. I have therefore postponed my wish to float over the temple complex with a hot-air balloon. Likewise, a visit to Myanmar should be rewarded with more than just a hectic week. So I drove again to Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand. I visited several temples, participated in a night photography workshop, and did a long bike ride through the surrounding mountains of Chiang Mai. I can recommend Trailhead Bike to rent a bike and as well a guide.
It became even more interesting, as it happened that some friends from my hometown Jena visited Chiang Mai at the same time. The only connection with Germany was digital or when I met German backpackers. But even then, everything felt far away. Now my old hometown caught up with me. It pulled me unexpectedly and abruptly apart from my travel flow. I was confronted with the fact that I will soon meet more friends from Germany: in Vietnam, in the UK and soon also for climbing in Europe. This fact startled me, as it felt like the end of my journey was near. My heart did not want to leave Thailand. I associated Thailand with wonderful experiences, breathtaking landscapes, unique rock climbing and people that I hope to meet again someday.