Saturday, June 30, 2018

WARNING: This is not a holiday but a bootcamp

This year I wanted to do something different for my holidays; something for me, myself and I. Everyone’s ideal holiday would normally involve lying on a nice, warm and beautiful beach, with a cocktail on either hand, just having the time of their life. However, I wanted to do something different and productive this time; and as I've always been a big fan of sports – in particular martial arts–  I thought: “why not combine both holidays and sports?”

Back when I was still living in The Netherlands I did a bit of kickboxing, so I thought that going off to Thailand to try out some Muay Thai would just be the perfect “alternative holiday” for me. Also, knowing some self defense might also come in handy at some point. So, doing a bit of research I found the following website: , where I found information on loads of different martial arts camps in various countries. After checking their website multiple times and having contacted different camps, I decided to go for Battle Conquer Gym in Phetchabun (Thailand); as most of its reviews on the website were quite positive and also because I thought the country side would fit me perfectly.

My journey started on May the 28th. I was flying on standby from Gatwick Airport to Singapore Airport. For those of you who are not familiar with the terminology, flying “on standby” means that I could only fly IF there was a spare seat available on the flight. Flying on standby as you have probably guessed, might be quite tricky depending on the destination you’re flying to and the dates on which you’re traveling; but luckily I managed to get on board as there were a few empty seats (phew!).

Once I got to Thailand, I set myself 4 main goals: loosing weight, clearing my mind, experiencing the Thai culture, and trying to learn martial art as best as possible so that I could kick some a**, haha.

With any martial arts camp come the routine. Every day is more or less the same, apart from Sunday. Sundays you are off and free to do whatever you feel like doing. We would also go for a drink on Saturday night – it’s still the weekend after all y’all.
A regular day on the camp would go like this:

07:00: choice of Muay Thai / Western Boxing / Cross-fit / Hiking (2 hours);
09:00: Breakfast (you'll get fruit, vegetables and eggs);
10:30: choice of yoga or meditation;
13:00:  Lunch/excursion/massage/free time – in the afternoon you had total freedom and were allowed to do whatever you wanted to.
16:00: once again choice of Muay Thai / Western Boxing / Cross-fit / Hiking (2 hours)
18:00: evening meal

In the evenings you also had free time to explore or do something else. 

People from all over the world end up at the Battle of Conquer camp for all kinds of reasons. Some to find themselves and others to loose weight. While I was on the camp I met one girl who came to the camp to dedicate herself to Muay Thai to a 100%. She was Dutch –just like me– and her name was Fleur. We just got along from the moment we met . Trust me, it's just so much easier to connect with someone when you can talk in your own language. Fleur is still trying to decide wether she would like to go to University or follow her passion for sports and progress in that field. In a way I'm curious about what she will decide... Life is an interesting journey, you'll never know where it's going to take you. Who knows, maybe one day she can help me to get a JLo (Jennifer Lopez) body, haha.

I did some sightseeing in Phetchabun as well – it wasn’t all going to be working out! For those of you who don’t know the place, Phetchabun is a region in central Thailand, that perhaps due to it's location doesn't attract many tourists – though I kind of like that. One day I had a “Buddha day”. I saw so many beautiful Buddha statues with a girl form Malaysia. We went to the Wat Pha Sorn Kaew, which is a temple on a Glass cliff and it’s a Dharma retreat for monks and Buddhists. The scenery was beautiful and nature around the area is amazing. You see the five traditional Buddhas who are believed to have visited the earth. Spectacular to see if you ask me. We also saw Buddha Thamaracha, where a stairway leads you to a massive-sized Buddha statue that just stares down at whoever climbs the stairs. Then we saw another temple with two stoned dragons outside, that spit water from their mouths. 

At the end of our “seeing as many Buddha's in one day as humanly possible” kind of day, our taxi driver took us to a place with the most beautiful views you’ll ever see, and a swing!

Another day I went with Fleur and some other people from the camp to visit a monk. We had the opportunity to ask him questions, and the chance to meditate with him for a while. Okay I have to admit I can't really focus for a long period of time but it was good practice. I actually want to keep that up, especially with my busy life. What I liked the most about this monk is that he was very calm and he was just living on his own in the nature. Perhaps that is what life is all about, not asking for much and just enjoying what you have; not looking back and not focusing on the future but on the here and now. Apart from that, I also visited a night market, where you could find food, drinks, clothes and other products.

Finally, when you go to Thailand you just can’t leave without getting a Thai massage, otherwise your visit wouldn’t be complete. It's so relaxing and with all the muscle pain that you accumulate at the camp, you can't say no to it.

After the camp was over I went to Bangkok, I would lie if I said I didn't miss the workouts, people and the quiet area of Phetchabun. Bangkok is just so busy and the hotel where I stayed in was in a specially busy area. I went to Bangkok to shop a bit, but in the end all I wanted to do was to go back to The Netherlands, I couldn't even be bothered to shop… and believe me when I say I'm a shop-a-holic! When I was done with Bangkok I went back to The Netherlans to see my family. As much as I love traveling, spending time with my family is far more valuable, because I feel that I'm missing out on a lot and sometimes that scares me a bit.

The camp was great, maybe some things could have been improved but let's face it, it can always be better. Everything in life can be improved. I would recommend the camp to every one of you who wants to do something different or wants to work on themselves. Don't expect a luxurious or chilled holiday. Their main focus is sports. Of course there is yoga and meditation, but it is not a yoga retreat.

So are you ready to learn Muay Thai? Let me know!



Me at the Wat Pha Sorn Kaew

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