I’ve been in Thailand for one week and yesterday was the first time I had more than few hours of sleep. Bangkok has been a whirlwind filled with training, sightseeing, work and partying. It’s been crazy and I love it!
Embracing the BJJ Globetrotter Community in Thailand
For the last three month traveling South East Asia, I found BJJ gyms by searching on google for the places closest to my hotel. I found amazing gyms in Kuala Lumpur and Phnom Penh with this method, but I knew there was more I could do to connect with local BJJ communities. Right before I took off for Bangkok, I reached out on the Members of BJJ Globetrotter Facebook page for the first time. Within hours I had a handful of people telling me stop by gyms in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Koh Tao. I can’t believe I waited this long to reach out the Globetrotters community. I’m definitely going to meet a ton more cool people and train in a lot of diverse gyms in the next 8 months.
First Week of Training and Exploring
My flight from Phnom Penh landed about 8pm Saturday night. By 10pm I was on the infamous Soi Cowboy street with a beer in my hand. This street is exactly the stereotype the Hangover movie portrays – bright neon lights, tons of booze and strippers. I figured I had to get this party out of the way on the first night. Sometime after 2am Vara and Alex, two new friends from BJJ Globetrotters, magically showed up (I forgot I had been messaging them at the start of the night) and convinced me to show up for lunch class tomorrow. Vara mercifully dragged me away from the bars and threw me in a cab headed for my hotel.
I woke up the next day just in time to run out the door and meet Vara in front of EMAC (Executive Martial Arts Center). After some technique, I learned how hard it is to defend against top-notch De La Riva sweeps while hungover. I grabbed lunch with a few guys after class and Erno, a black belt from Finland, invited me to come out to visit him at his new gym in Chiang Mai. (I’m planning this side trip sometime next week.)
The next morning, Vara brought me to a huge CrossFit facility with some mat space reserved for Bangkok Fight Lab. After struggling to stay alive for just a few rolls in extreme heat and humidity, another group of us went out for lunch. Two days in a row, I met new BJJ friends and shared meals with them. I couldn’t believe how welcoming everyone in Thailand has been.
For the rest of the week my schedule was wake up, go to BFL, find food and a mini-adventure then work until about 4 am. By Saturday, I was exhausted by the non-stop activity, but I was really flowing well on the mats and learned a fun new De La Riva sweep I can’t wait to show off when I come back home.
Side Trip to Kanchanaburi Waterfalls
On Sunday, I took a day off from training and headed to Kanchanaburi waterfalls. It’s a two-hour drive from Bangkok and we stopped halfway to see the Death Railway Bridge and Museum. The WWII history lesson was interesting, but we spent too much time at the museum and got to the waterfall around 2pm. There is a hiking path that winds up 7 layers of waterfalls that usually takes about 2 hours to hike. We had one hour before they closed the top 3 layers, so my buddy Mike and I ran the entire way up.
After jumping up boulders, climbing unearthed tree roots and running through dried river bed, we made it up to the top. The park ranger told us we had 5 minutes before we had to leave – Victory! We immediately jumped in the water and found out it was filled with fish that loved to nibble toes. If you didn’t move for just a second you had at least 10 fish all over your legs and feet giving a free pedicure. We were hastily guided down the waterfalls by the tired park ranger and stank up the bus for the 2-hour drive back.
Thailand has been an amazing, non-stop adventure so far and I still three weeks left!