The frogurt is also cursed

This past week has been a study in peaks and valleys. I can run without shin splints! Hooray! I have a day-long anxiety attack the day after. Boo. The burger place in Bangkok has a chili cheeseburger! Hooray! I have a horrific stomach ache all day. Boo. It’s time to go to the camp in Bangkok and do some training! Hooray! My wallet got stolen within 5 seconds of stepping off the bus. Boo. My trainer thinks my technique is solid enough to fight! Hooray! I have to lose another ten pounds before I get in the ring. Boo.

Despite that, this weekend will still be awesome. Sunday is my birthday, which I periodically forget about. After my 21st, I pretty much stopped giving too much of a crap about celebrating. Actually, I barely celebrated that one anyway. I don’t know, I’m just not much of a birthday person. I just want to hang out with people and eat something horrendously out of line for my fight diet. Tryn has informed me that I might just have to man up this year and give our friends an excuse to get drunk on a Sunday. I like to think I’m the kind of person who helps out other people when they’re in serious need, so I guess I’ll just have to grin and bear it.

Two days later, we have the two-year celebration of Tryn’s spectacularly bad judgement of character, also known as our anniversary. We haven’t got the faintest of what we’re going to do this year, but then, it took us a few minutes to remember what we did last year anyway. Which was mostly due to our celebration. Some of you might remember that our priest gave us a bottle of mead to take home, which we opened on our anniversary and drank throughout the day, and I feel like that kicks the crap out of stale wedding cake. So we spent the day buzzed and then went to the restaurant we went to after I proposed, so it was a good time all around.

These are generally the times of year I’ll sit down and take stock of where my life’s been and where it’s going, as opposed to new year’s. Mostly because new year’s is an arbitrary number on a calendar that doesn’t mean squat to me in any kind of practical or religious sense. Birthdays are birthdays(hooray, I exist!) and our anniversary marks the time me and Tryn officially joined our lives together(legally, anyway). Both of those seem a little more important to me than January starting. You know what the beginning of January means in Rochester? Another three months of winter, that’s what. Although in fairness, being snowed in IS an excellent time for the kind of navel-contemplating I’m doing here. Still, screw January anyway.

So let’s contemplate! I’ve sort of picked this up as a habit after once grumbling to Tryn on a birthday a few years back that it was another year of nothing getting done. She told me I’d gotten a job, an apartment, was paying my own bills for the first time, and had gotten engaged, so she was curious to know what DID count as getting anything done. I like to keep things a little more in perspective since then. So, what have I been up to this year? The big one is obvious- I’m in Thailand after three years of saving, planning, being excited, freaking out, packing, and throwing out. I mean, seriously, as major life goals go, this is a pretty hefty check off the list. We also have making the fight team back home at Vision Quest, which was something I was pretty sure I was never going to be able to do when I first started. Dealing with my depression-anxiety stew after years of not even knowing it was there, definitely significant. That was kind of like trying to fight a cloud of smoke, and as anyone I’ve sparred with knows, I really prefer to be able to punch back if I’m getting my ass kicked.

This year? Well, it’s time to fight here in Thailand, obviously. When we get home, picking up and moving and finding new jobs is the big goal, and both of us going back to school for something useful is right up there too. So I guess we’ll see how that all works out. As for the rest of this month, fuck the guy who stole my wallet, and let’s get on with the partying.

-end transmission.

Straphangin’

Add another thing to the list of stuff that Bangkok wildly outclasses NY in- trains. We spent pretty much all of yesterday hustling around the city on the BTS, checking out gyms and going to the gear store I’d heard about. It all went remarkably well, in large part to how easy the train made it. They have a route marker indicating where you are and where you’re going, which the subway at home had just gotten round to installing recently. The TVs also show a little subtitle for what the next stop is, which is handy for when the railings block the wall displays. And the computerized train voice speaks better English than the ones at home do. Go figure that one out.

Anyway, we had a successful jaunt around Bangkok. I picked up new gloves and a pair of shorts, and Tryn got her own pair of shinguards, all for what amounted to 60 dollars. For those of you unfamiliar with gear prices and why that’s awesome, if I’d ordered this stuff at home, the gloves or shinguards by themselves would have cost more than 70 dollars just on their own. So you might be able to guess that this isn’t the last shopping trip that’s going to happen.

Next on the agenda(actually, the shopping came last, but whatever) was to do some scouting and see about some of the gyms in the area that were easily accessible by train. Obviously there are a lot more, but I want to start small so I can get used to getting around Bangkok first before I decide to go off a little further. The first one was a little place squirreled away in a corner on a residential street. It reminded me a little of the setup at Vision Quest, so naturally I liked the looks of it. I’d emailed the gym a few days before to get an idea of where it was and the price options. Most gyms here have a few rooms attached so you can stay there while you’re training, which is handy. Of course, the price I got online was a bit different than the one I got in person, while they gave me a free bottle of Pepsi, offered a motorbike ride back to wherever we needed, and showed me the private apartment rooms that were a bit down the street from the camp. In terms of price, it usually goes- shared room with a fan, shared with AC, private room with a fan, private with AC. And the Thai woman showing me the place is telling me I can only book a room for a week at a time, which is double the price I was given online. Now I liked the place, but I know an upsell when I see one. Or as Primo once said, born late, not born yesterday. So I told her I’d be in contact and moved along. That’s the nice thing about looking for a camp in Thailand- if you don’t like it, you can take your business to the guy down the street. Literally, in some cases. So I did.

The next place we checked out was a few stops down on the train and a 5 minute walk. It was behind a cemetery, which was odd in itself. Apparently, the preferred method of laying someone to rest here is cremation, which I’m pretty sure is a Buddhism thing. And considering this country is almost exclusively Buddhist, cemeteries are a pretty rare sight. The two exceptions are burials for the Chinese population, or world war 2 deaths. Going by the characters on the headstones, I’m pretty sure this was a Chinese one. That, and the sign that said “Chinese Memorial Cemetery” was a tipoff. Anyway, we wander through the graveyard to get to the camp, and are promptly greeted by a grizzly bear’s half-brother. The place is owned by a truly monstrous -looking Australian guy, who was at least a head taller than me, covered in tattoos, and most likely capable of smashing my head with his pecs. Despite that, he was actually a pretty chilled-out guy and had no problem giving me the lowdown on the place without any bullshit or hard sells. Also, he has a bulldog, and I seem to have good luck with gyms where the boss has a bulldog.

Given my two options, I’m headed back to Bangkok this coming week to train for a few days at the camp that’s run by Casey’s evil twin. If all goes well, I’m hoping to make it a weekly thing, and then start looking at getting a fight. So all in all, it was a pretty successful day trip!

-end transmission

The process

Last time was a bit of a downer. So let’s talk about the awesome island vacation we all just got back from instead! Tryn had a long weekend, so her coworkers rounded us up and we headed to Koh Chang, which is a little ways off the coast near Bangkok. The bus ride to Bangkok wasn’t terrible, excepting the giant traffic snarl we got caught in right outside the city. Traffic in this place makes New York traffic look like tiny little hiccups. The city as a whole makes Manhattan look pretty shabby, so I guess you go big or go home on everything. The night bus to Trat wasn’t so hot, though. Especially when the rain started. When I say “rain”, some of you may be thinking of thunderstorms at home. It’s not quite like that. The weather also goes in for extremes here, and I’m pretty sure we drove through a monsoon to get to the ferry. Thankfully it was all done by the time we got on the water, but I was really pretty sure I was going to die a few times due to falling trees.

By the time we got there, we’d been traveling for something like 15 hours or so, and it felt like being jet-lagged again. Luckily, getting to chill on the beach for three days fixes that right up. Tryn’s got pictures that should be up soon. The island felt remarkably like being back in Belize, actually. Especially when we got to the Mexican restaurant, which was just completely ridiculous with how good it was. Not “good for here, but not like at home”, either. It was freaking amazing and I’m really sure I undid almost all of last month’s work this weekend eating there. And I’d do it again, too. We ended the trip with a 7 hour van drive from Trat to Suphanburi, at which point nobody wanted to go anywhere for dinner, so we ordered a pizza and ate it in the common area downstairs. Definitely had a few college flashbacks from that one.

The weekend mostly made me feel better about the whole “far from home and everyone I know” thing. I mean, I still have occasional spikes of wishing it was October, but they’ve been fewer lately. This coming week, I’m going to be going off in search of a camp in Bangkok. Obviously I’m going to check out Kaewsamrit, because that’s where Primo went, and there’s definitely a bit of “You will go to the Dagobah system, there you will find Yoda, the Jedi master who trained me” feel to that. Doing a few days at each of them should be a fun time, and maybe I’ll find one to stick with for the rest of the time here. This weekend we’re headed down to Bangkok so I can go and buy the entire gear shop I’ve been told about. Tryn is coming with me to make sure I don’t go too overboard, because I have a seriously bad new toy reflex with new training stuff. I mean, yeah, at the end of the day, they’re just shorts and gloves. They do the same thing as my old ones. But still, new stuff!

Overall I’m starting to feel more like an actual person with an actual life again instead of a human-shaped ball of anxiety and stress and homesickness. Not quite all the way there yet, but it’s going decently enough so far.

-end transmission