8am. I’m pulled from a dreamless state and roll over, arms flapping around searching for the water bottle I’m sure I put next to my bed last night. Ten seconds later and success, I can relieve my mouth of the dry, awful flavors from the previous night of drinking. It’s only been a couple of days since leaving 301 Muay Thai and my body is already missing it.
At this time at the camp I would have already completed a run along the beach, watching the sun rise as some fishermen prepare their boats for sea and others begin selling the morning’s catch. Chances are I would have had to fight off attacks from a few packs of dogs, throwing sand in their eyes I discovered was better than running with a stick. I would have also passed grazing cattle on the side of the road lined by coconut groves wondering if today will be the day they charge at me. By 8am, the time I woke today, I would have been feeling exhausted, yet at the same time pumped and ready to get every last breath of wind taken out of me as Oliver puts me through three grueling rounds of pads.
Upon reflection, 301 Muay Thai was a wonderful place, and I’m so glad I came here over the other, larger gyms in Thailand. There is a true family atmosphere at the camp. The trainees would all buy fruit to mix into a fruit salad and share over the next episode of Spartacus in the evenings, share sachets of hot chocolate or happily sit around the kitchen during the day sharing stories and having a laugh. Unlike larger camps, everyone knows each other by name and helps each other out.
A lot of the things I once complained about are, after talking to people who have traveled to many camps, common practice in Thailand. Concrete weight sets are apparently at many of the gyms, whilst at 301 there are at least plans for a full weight set in the future. The same goes for the food. Everyone at 301 complained to some extent about the food being too oily/fatty etc for the training we were doing, yet at least there was always enough. Something that from what I’ve gathered, cannot be said for all camps. Even the fact that there was no Internet at the gym turned into something I truly appreciated. Without in-house Internet I was forced to walk or ride along the beach 5km’s to the nearest resort with a good connection. In the process I built a relationship with a fruit lady who would often hand me bags of mangoes for free. The walk also gave me a chance to get to know and appreciate the beauty of the area on a more personal level, something I’m thankful for.
Would I come back, or recommend the gym to others? Definitely. The location is superb for anyone wanting to escape the temptations of the Phuket, Pattaya or Bangkok party scenes and get into rural Thailand. However, whilst being rural, Bangkok is still a viable weekend trip and there is an incredibly comfortable bus that will take you to the nearby town of Hua Hin to shop, feast on the Sizzler salad bar or simply just get away from the gym for a few hours. The manager Oliver knows just how hard to push you, and if he thinks you are going to do yourself harm he will tell you to stop – a rare and valuable trait. The Thai trainer Joe is equally wise and has been training in Muay Thai since he was 6 years old. He is enthusiastic, fun and eager to learn English, making for a perfect trainer. I wasn’t interested in the MMA part of the training, however by all accounts Yohun is also a great teacher. Finally, the gym is still only a year old and there are many more things to come. Fridges in each room are planned as well as the aforementioned weight set. However, a sauna is next on the project list which will compliment the ice baths perfectly after a hard day of training.