Koh Yao Noi island in Thailand
22.01.2012 - 29.01.2012 32 °C
Krabi to Koh Yao Noi
Up late at last (YAY a lie in!), then headed to a local place for a healthy breakfast of Muesli as recommended by Phil & Megan. It was lovely to start the day of with something fresh and healthy for a change. Bumped into Phil & Megan and had breakfast with them before saying goodbye for now and back to our Chinese man’s place to collect our bags.
Trying to save as much money as possible it was decided between us that we would wait for the local bus to take us to the pier where we could catch a boat to the island of Koh Yao Noi. Whilst waiting many locals asked us if we wanted taxis but in fear of getting Thaid*, we carried on waiting. (*Thaid is the name we have given to being ripped off by a Thai person thanks to Phil and Megan). The nearest shop to the bus stop was full of Chinese people celebrating the Lunar New Year so we asked if they knew if the buses were running. Unfortunately none of them actually spoke much English so after several minutes of confusing sign language and them having a conversation with a local tuk that turned up, the conclusion was that we needed to get onto the local little van/bus to a place called Yo Anang. From here it should be a short Tuktuk journey to the pier. So on we got and took the half hour ride to Yo Anang for 200 Baht (£4). Yo Anang looked nice enough but we needed to get to the pier so asking around we were shocked to find out that we were still 35km from the pier which would cost 700 Baht in a tuk tuk. Dammit!
With no option but to get an expensive ride to the pier we haggled with a taxi driver and got it for 600 Baht. At least that was more comfortable than a tuk tuk!
Arriving at the pier it was full of locals just hanging around, obviously waiting for one of the longboats due in at any time. I asked around and found out that there was a speedboat going to the island for 200Baht in the next hour. So we hung around and enjoyed the sun while we waited for it to board.
While we waited the local bus from Krabi (the one we were going to wait for) arrived and we shook our heads. Maybe we should have waited a little longer in Krabi!?
The Speedboat to the island didn’t take long, around half hour, and it passed lots of amazing looking islands on the way. This was the part of Thailand that we had been looking forward to, the beautiful beeches!
As soon as we got off the boat there was a Tuk tuk asking where we were going and not in the mood to haggle we paid the 200Baht to take us direct to the camp.
It was a relief to see that we had chosen a really good place to stay. The woman on reception was english and showed us to the nicest, cleanest, biggest room we have had so far with an amazing view.
We are literally 10 seconds from the sea and the gym looked really well laid out. It was basically an open sided gym that looked out to the sea and the other islands with a small weights area, a boxing ring in the centre and several kickbags hanging up.
Pleased with our new temporary home we borrowed a couple of free mountain bikes and pedaled into town (about 2km away) to buy some fresh fruit and water.
The KYN Muay Thai gym is run by an ex Muay Thai Superstar and champion called Hlukhin and his 2 trainers Lip (a young fighter) and Bat (an older x- fighter). His wife Lisa also helps run the gym and is quite a formidable fighter herself. Hlukhin and Lisa live above the gym with their little boy.
The kitchen has a special Muay Thai fighters menu made up of rice dishes and fresh fruit for 50 baht a meal (£1) so we decided to try out the Penang curry and PadThi. Both meals were absolutely delicious so we demolished them pretty quick whilst chatting to a few of the other fighters in the gym.
Bed seemed like a good idea as we had no idea how hard it would be in the morning so off we went to our lovely room to get plenty of sleep ready for the beating the next day!
A week in a Muay Thai Camp
The alarm on my watch went off at 7am on the first day and I snoozed it without blinking. It’s very unlike me to snooze when the alarm goes off but I guess I knew what awaited me and wanted to delay it as long as possible. The alarm went off again and I decided I couldn’t delay getting up any more. After all I had chosen to be here and paid for the training so I better get ready. A quick shower and a few banana’s later and we were semi awake. We popped on some shorts, prepared a bottle of water with electrolytes and made our way to the gym.
We were told that the trainers get a bit impatient and start early sometimes, so we arrived 15 minutes before the start of the session and began stretching. It was about 30 degrees centigrade already and the moment we started moving sweat started to trickle down our backs. Hlukhin wasn’t there on the first day so we started warming up with Lip and Bat calling the exercises out. The format was about 15 minutes stretching then it moved onto shadow boxing. Being new it was difficult to shadow box as we were uncertain what to do but the trainers saw this and ran over to start showing us the correct technique. After 15 minutes of shadow boxing mixed with push-ups at random times as called out by the trainers, it was time to put on the shin pads. We then got paired up with people and took it in turns kicking and blocking for about 15 mins. Then more push-ups (of course) and it was time to put on some gloves. Another 15 mins of sweating ensued which this time involved being kicked as well as punched. It suddenly seemed like our brains were on overload and we felt completely out of control of our limbs, it was as if they belonged to somebody else.
Coordinating everything whilst keeping balance and control was intense and the sweat began to pour from every part of us. More push-ups and now it was time for grappling. The concept of this wasn’t clear to either of us as it seemed like you were basically just trying to rip the other persons head from their shoulders!? Oh well, another set of press-ups later and it was kick bag time. This time you remove the shin pads (but keep on the gloves) and the trainer calls out instructions as you do your best to hit the pad correctly. For example, Kick right, Kick left, Knee, jab/punch, jab/punch, jab, elbow etc etc.. Again we got drilled by the instructors on how to swing with more hip, more hip and occasionally they would punch you in the head to remind you to block while shouting ‘You no block, YOU DIE!’.
After the kick bag session it is really hard to get your breath. We normally stand there sucking in as much air as possible trying not to pass out. Your head is spinning and you’re sweating so much it looks like you are stood under a shower with the sweat running off your elbows and shorts in torrents.
Then it is time for a warm down of 75 sit-ups, push-ups and finally some well deserved stretching and a drink. This was to be the format for every session. Two sessions a day lasting 2 hours, 6 days a week!
As the week went on we got more and more broken. Every time we woke up we found a new muscle we didn’t know we had which was sore or seized from being hit. The training got harder and harder as our muscles ached more and the trainers expected better control and more power with every passing day. Sometimes that was possible, but other times you would make a mistake and that would cost you ....
Some days it would seem like a drag when you started but by the end of the session you always felt good. The high pitched laughter from the trainers when they hit you in the head meant you couldn’t hate them and their endless funny noises when you do something right never ceased to raise a smile as they sounded like a collection of furbee’s gone mad.
We missed only one session out of the twelve on Wednesday morning when neither of us could actually get out of bed even if we had wanted to! But apart from that it was full on every day.
The time in between training sessions was mostly spent in the camp eating fried rice ‘have egg’ as we were too exhausted to go anywhere else. The evenings were spent either eating wonderful food from the gym and watching a movie or trying out local eateries (with varying success!). We also managed to borrow the free mountain bikes and explored a few of the roads and beaches on the island, which were amazingly quiet.
We were the only people on the entire beach and it made us want to stay on the island longer after the training had finished as there was so much more to explore. The surroundings were beautiful and the beaches stunning so leaving was going to be difficult.
Our visa was due to expire soon though and we had booked a flight to Vietnam already so decided to stick to the plan and leave on the Sunday to head to Phuket for a night on the way to Bangkok.
One of the Swedish guys training (Jacob) had a fight booked for Monday in Phuket stadium so we have tried to work that into our plan and hope to watch him with a few of the other guys from the gym.
While we were working out what to do we heard a cat me-owing in a not too happy way. I assumed it was a cat that had fallen asleep in a boat and woken up with the tide in and was now unhappy about his whereabouts. Jayne decided to go have a look anyway and wondered out to an old house on stilts just a few metres away. The noise seemed to be coming from the house so she waded out up to her waist to see if she could figure out what was making the now more urgent noise. Staring under the stilted house she saw a tiny little kitten that must have fallen from the house and got tangled in an old fishing net that was crying for help. It was clinging on for its life as the tide was coming in and was already up to its neck in the water. Jayne managed to release it from the net and it hung there in her hand looking very relieved but very sorry for itself. Just as Jayne was wondering what to do with it she heard another Me-ow. This time it was a much louder me-ow and as she looked up realised it was the kittens mother. She was looking over the edge of the pier calling out to her kitten, as if trying to figure out what had happened. Jayne clung onto the pier and raised her hand up with the bedraggled kitten in her palm and the mother grabbed it by the scruff of the neck and took it to safety. It was the sweetest thing ever! The only sad thing about the story is that the mother then came back Me-owing again at Jayne as if asking if there were more kittens. Jayne showed her empty palms to the mother and shook her head as she made her way back to the beach. 1 Kitten saved at least from a watery grave!
In summary the island of Yao Noi is truly beautiful and the locals are pretty much un affected by the small amount of tourism here so you can really get a feel for what it is like to live here. The locals are very friendly and helpful but be warned they speak very little (if any) english so don’t expect it to be easy to get around or buy things. Because of all this we absolutely loved it and wish we could stay, in fact we are trying to work out how we can come back here at the end of our trip for a few weeks or more.
The Muay Thai camp is brutal. I don’t mean in a savage way but in a relentless exercise way. I never knew I could sweat that much or feel that exhausted! But again it has been one of the most fantastic things I have done so far and is highly recommended to anyone wanting to increase their fitness or learn a new skill.
WE LOVE KYN and will be back one day for sure!