(I’ve been sniffing around the idea of escaping Canada during the winter months to train in Thailand this January. Chris Stella from Fighting Farang has been nice enough to answer a bunch of my questions so I figured why not have him share the basics with everyone. Add your questions and comments and perhaps we can convince him to tell us some more!)
It turns out training in Thailand is easier than you thought! First off there are a few questions you need to ask yourself. Like they told Quaid in Total Recall, “I’ll be asking you some questions so we can fine-tune the program. You answer honestly, you’ll enjoy yourself much more.”
The last thing you want is to end up halfway around the world just to discover it was a big mistake. So here we go….
What is your goal? what are you trying to do, learn or accomplish? What is the big WHY in ‘Why am I going?’
I assume since your reading something I wrote that you are interested in training, maybe with a little vacation mixed in. If you want to go on holiday and party? I don’t have much info on that for you. You also have to know if you want to focus on Muay Thai or MMA.
There is tons of great Muay Thai camps and all over the country, and using Facebook and the Internet you can do your research. Contact people at the camps, both the people who run it and people who are training or have trained there. Check message boards on the MMA websites, you would be surprised how much detailed info is out there.
If you put some time in you can probably get a little advance footwork done for you which will save you time and money. The people who are there already know where the best rooms are, the cheapest moped rentals, the nicest places to eat. They can help you avoid whatever mistakes they may have already made. They are also the people you will be living and training with, so its good to get to know them.
Staying within your budget makes for a better trip. Plan ahead and buy your tickets way in advance, and use a site like Sidestep.com to compare lots of airlines and layover options.
Depending on what you’re willing to endure, a flight from NYC to Phuket 1 month in advance can be had for $1300, and probably cheaper if you book further out. Use a big bank to get Thai currency, you’ll get the best exchange rate. Pay for things with that cash, many places charge a fee if you use a card, and its way harder to haggle them down without having cash.
Be prepared to HAGGLE FOR EVERYTHING! That’s the way the country works, everything can be had for a bargain. You can buy quality muay thai gear for good prices but they don’t sell rashguards or grappling shorts, so be sure to bring those from home.
You get a 30 day VISA automatically when you arrive. Any longer and you will either have to leave and come back (bus trips get you 15 days, a quick flight to Kuala Lampur gets you 30). Or apply for a VISA with the Thai embassy. A student visa to study muay thai is pretty easy to get and you can stay for a year or more.
If you want MMA there is really only one option: Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket. There is only one real MMA cage around and they have it. They have an in house BJJ instructor, a legit Brown belt named Ray Elbe. It is a favorite training camp for multiple UFC fighters and it is in one of the nicest areas you can find … Phuket is a world renowned vacation destination for a reason. I wont make this into a commercial for them so check MMAPhuket.com and check it out for yourself.
Thailand is amazing, there is a ton of wonderful things to do on your down time. The people are great, the nightlife is legendary. You will never have fresher and better food, fresh laid eggs are about the best thing ever. You can meet elephants, hang with monkeys or play with a baby tiger (seriously, I played with a baby tiger for like 5 American dollars). You can scuba and snorkel, work on your tan or flirt with the Euro tourists. You can relax with a book, watch movies before they are released or see some of the strangest television around (cockfighting on TV?)…
6. Is it Safe?
Thailand is a far away place, it has its share of problems. There is political strife, it has its share of crime. But if your a little careful you can avoid almost any issues. It has modern hospitals and lots of people speak English. The Thai people depend on tourism, its the whole economy basically. This leads them to be pretty good to the tourists.
So fucking go to Thailand already, you can train hard with great instructors in the tropical heat. You can eat healthy food and swim in gorgeous oceans. You can meet great friends and make incredible memories. You can even somehow end up doing a weird website about training and traveling and Thailand and other crap like WWW.FIGHTINGFARANG.COM (I did).