For the past 4 years, I’ve been splitting my time between Thailand and Canada. I usually head to Thailand around September or October (just before the winter) and head back in July or July (just in time for the summer). This year though, it looks like I’ll be staying in Thailand year round because for some reason, the airline fares are much more expensive when you’re going from Asia to Canada as oppose to going from Canada to Asia. Not quite sure how that makes sense but regardless, I don’t feel like paying a couple grand to get home – especially because I know that after a few weeks of being there, I’d just want to be back in Thailand anyway.

Still though, it would definitely be nice to head home right now to visit family and friends. But then again, it’s always nice at the start. You know, you get back and everyone is stoked to see you. Your family is going out of their way to make you feel welcome and your phone is constantly ringing from friends who want to take you out. After a few weeks though, the novelty of you being home starts to ware off at which point, I’d have my shirtless, step-dad banging on my bedroom door with his belly hanging out demanding his “rent money” and I’d get a bunch of “sorry man, I can’t go out tonight, I have to wake up early for work tomorrow” responses from my friends when I’d call them to go out.

At this point in my life, I suppose the benefits of living in Thailand (convenience and affordability of things, laid back lifestyle and unpredictability) far outweigh the downsides but that’ll likely change as I get older and my priorities change. I recall Will, the owner of Tiger Muay Thai, telling me how he wanted to move back to the States so his kids would have a better education and more opportunities and last I heard, he’s moved back and is going to be splitting his time between the two countries. I could definitely see myself wanting to move back to (and station) myself in Canada for the same reasons in the future.

Having been here so long now, I notice that I’ve been missing certain things about Canada. For example, this past weekend I went to Hua Hin with my girlfriend and her friends. On Saturday afternoon, I was pretty hungry so when they whipped out a cooler and fired up the BBQ, I was pretty stoked – especially since it with the time difference, it was “Canada Day” (July 1st) back home and obviously, that’s celebrated the same way Americans celebrate the 4th (with BBQ’s, beer and fireworks). When one of the guys opened the cooler though, it was full of squid and octopus. Like really, WTF! Maybe it tastes great (I’ve never tried it) but I was really hoping for some burgers, chicken breasts, steak or hot dogs. Not Octopus meat!

Aside from the minor things like that, there’s also some major disadvantages to being a foreigner living in Thailand. Granted, there are some advantages as well (social status being the most obvious). As for the disadvantages, well, there’s the fact that Thailand is racist as fuck! Not in an “I’m superior to you” sort of way but it’s racist in the sense that we’ll never have equal rights in this country and of course, Thai people have no issue charging us double, triple, even quadruple the amount for things such as entrance fees to stadiums (I’ve never once paid to go see a Muay Thai fight for this reason), zoo’s, parks etc.

Posted on my “wall” today was a link to a news article predicting a crackdown on foreigners who have acquired land here via the loopholes in the legal system and that the land owners can expect seizure of the land as well as deportation. The focus of the article was on the “prime” real estate throughout Phuket, Pattaya and Chiang Mai. In other words, the “tourist areas”.

With their “Thai Logic” holding true to its reputation, what they fail to realize is that the reason why the areas attract the most tourists (the specific areas that they’re complaining have the most foreign ownership), is because they’ve been developed by foreigners! For example, Patong is the most developed beach in Phuket. Not coincidently, Patong also attracts the most tourists. It’s full of Western influence in terms of the resorts and the restaurants. There’s even a “Hard Rock” café.

If you strip these business owners of their land and assets then deport them, that isn’t exactly going to attract other foreign investors. Without foreign investors and businesses, there will obviously be less tourism and ultimately, less money coming into the country. The Thai’s need to see beyond their “they’ll buy up all our land” mentality and realize that the most developed, most progressive countries in the world encourage foreign investments rather then trying to prevent them.

Anyway, the only reason why I’m even mentioning this is because the guy who posted the link to the news article on my “wall” is a potential business partner for a gym I want to start in the future. We’ve met with a lawyer and he assured us that there are completely legal ways to acquire land here but with this potential crackdown, it doesn’t seem like the best thing to do.

As for the “in need of a change” post title, I just really need to switch things up. This is the first time throughout all my time spend here in Thailand where I’ve actually felt bored. Most of the guys I had been hanging out with the last few months have gone back home until next year and the gym I’m at is really quiet. Right now is considered to be “low season” (less travellers) since it’s the summer and most people are enjoying the weather in the own countries.

I’ll likely be moving on from this Kittana gym soon because it’s just not suiting the vision that I had for it. That’s not to say that the training is bad here because that’s not the case at all. The trainers are awesome. The location that the gym is situated in is ideal to develop a “serious gym” with a solid stable of Thai fighters. That’s the way I initially pictured things anyway. Instead though, they’re trying to make a tourist gym in what’s clearly NOT a tourist area. It’s hard to do “marketing” for people who don’t understand the MARKET at all. I might as well be trying to sell bottles of Hydroxycut in Ethiopia.

Like I said though, I’ve probably learnt more technique (especially in the clinch) here at Kittana that I have at any other gym so don’t mistake the fact that I’m wanting to leave as a sign that the training isn’t legit because that’s not the case at all. I probably just need change up my routine a bit as a way to regroup. I’ve never been the type of person could stay in the same place, doing the same routine for a long period of time.

So, now I’m trying to figure out where I should go and what I should do. I found a pretty nice apartment near the BTS station (still somewhat in the same area) so if I stayed there, I’d easily be able to get around the city and cross train at a few gyms. I’m getting a little tired of doing purely Thai boxing as well so to switch things up, I think I’ll start doing some BJJ classes. If not for my girlfriend who’s bound to Bangkok by her job, I’d probably head to either Phuket or Samui to kick it in paradise for a while.

Once I leave here though, there’s definitely going to be some things that I’ll miss. One of those things being messing with the taxi drivers. The most common drug here is called “Yaba”. Yaba tablets are a mixture of methamphetamine and caffeine and a lot of people will take them so they can remain alert and work long hours. If you ever hop in a taxi and notice that he’s going about 150 kilometres per hour while tapping his hands on the wheel in sync with the song that’s playing on the radio, there’s a pretty good chance that he’s on Yaba. If that ever happens by the way, just tell him to pull over so you can hop out and catch another cab.

Anyway, the dirt road leading up to the gym has a lot of “character” to say the least. There’s a piece of land that has recently been claimed by some “squatters” who have built themselves some lovely tin homes. Next up is a chop shop and beyond that, there’s an abandon building. It appeared as though they were building an apartment but for the past 2 months or so, I haven’t seen anyone working on it at all.

Whenever taxi drivers drop us off here late at night, they seem to be a little bewildered by the location and why a group of foreigners would want to be dropped off seemingly in the middle of nowhere. One night we decided to mess with the driver and have him drop us off at the abandon building. We got out of the car, walked into the building (which doesn’t have doors or windows so it’s easy to see inside) and at the spur of the moment, we decided to all sit in a circle and hold hands like we were doing some sort of group prayer. The look on the drivers face was priceless.

So yeah, to wrap it up, I’m not quite sure where I’m going to go next. Most likely, I’m thinking I’ll take a little break by a beach somewhere (Pattaya or Phuket) and then head back to Bangkok, move into that apartment and start training BJJ.

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18 COMMENTS

  1. Hey bill,

    love the blog, its a shame you seem to be getting bored now. have you thought about setting up a fight for yourself out there? maybe it would liven things up if you were training for a purpose?

  2. Hey Andrew,

    Yeah, I’ve fought here before.

    One of those things I wanted to do for the experience, but not something I’d want to do often (very little money, no insurance, no pre-fight blood testing)..
    I’ve got an issue with asthma as well but it’s been improving lately so at some point, I’ll probably take another fight or two.

    I suppose the ideal situation for fighters would be to base themselves out of Thailand (cheap living and good training) and fight elsewhere where the pay and the conditions are a bit better.

  3. Hey Bill,

    been following your posts for years now, even went to train in Thailans largely because of your reviews, cheers.

    Any idea where you are gonna start training BJJ?I will be following your posts throughout,

    Seamus

  4. Hey Seamas,

    If I’m still in Bangkok (which I probably will be), I’ll either train at Bangkok BJJ or a new place that opened up yesterday called Q23 (both are on Sukhumvit).

  5. Go drop into Bangkok BJJ. My buddy Ben is the new instructor, hes a Ralph Gracie brown belt and super cool. Fun guy to party with too. I stayed at his place my last couple nights in Thailand and we had a blast. Bryan is also the new manager, he ran Chiang Mai/Golden Triangle BJJ up in Chaing Mai while I was there and is a blast to hang out with as well.

    Bangkok BJJ has 2-3 brown belts, 4-6 purples and probably a dozen blue belts. Really good training and the new schedule is killer. Wrestling classes 2x a week, BJJ fundamentals 5 times a week I think, and then advanced BJJ after fundamentals class, so you can get in 2.5 hours of BJJ. All classes are open to any belt level. It’s right off of the Phloen Chit BTS also.

    If I had the cash I would be back in Thailand right now trainin at BKKBJJ. If you have any questions shoot me an email, I spent about a month total at BKKBJJ and highly recommend it.

  6. squid bbq is delicious

    foreigners here have a hell of a lot more rights than they do in Canada and the US

    it is a fact that foreign investment is linked to economic failure in developing countries

    i’ve been reading your blog for years as well, and it’s one of the reasons i’ve ended up in thailand for 8 months now, staying for another two. i’m sorry but..i notice a great deal of hypocrisy in your posts..for example, the phrase “thai logic” is no less racist than charging foreigners more to get into the stadiums..and i don’t understand how you expect to get top quality training here without fighting..if you have a medical condition that prevents you from fighting that is completely understandable, but one should also understand that without fighting you are not going to get the best training and you are probably going to get bored!

  7. Tariq,

    I’m hesitant to even respond to your comments because I’m way too busy to get involved in an internet debate but I found something wrong with nearly every single one of your statements so here we go..

    “Squid BBQ is delicious”

    My response: Glad you think so. Thanks for your opinion on that.

    “Foreigners have a hell of a lot more rights than they do in Canada or the US”.

    My response: WOW .. alright. What “rights” are you referring too? When a foreigner immigrates to Canada (which is ranked as the MOST WELCOMING COUNTRY FOR IMMIGRANTS), they get..

    – Financial assistance from the government until they secure a job
    – Access to our national health care system
    – Priority placement for most government careers
    – Freedom to own land and businesses outright and in their own name

    Basically they get all the same rights as all other Canadian citizens do.

    Now, here is where I would list the rights that I have in Thailand if I were to move here permanently and apply for citizenship but .. I can’t. Foreigners can’t be citizens here (there’s been maybe 5 people that have done it).

    If I marry my girlfriend and start a family here, I will STILL have to leave and re-enter Thailand every 3 months. I can never be a citizen. I will STILL be charged 2-5x the price for things. I will never be able to own land. The police will STILL be looking for some bribe money from me if I was ever to need assistance.

    What rights are you speaking of by the way? You know, since I have a “hell of a lot more rights” here than a foreigner does in Canada.

    Next comment..

    “It is a fact that foreign investment is linked to economic failure in developing countries”

    My response: Where did you come up with that? Expain to me how money being pumped into the local economy from abroad is a bad thing?

    The wealthiest countries in the world are the countries that receive the most foreign direct investments (FDI).

    With regards to your statement that FDI is linked to exonomic failure in developing countries, here’s a quote..

    “FDI provides an inflow of foreign capital and funds, in addition to an increase in the transfer of skills, technology, and job opportunities. Many of the East Asian tigers such as China, South Korea, Philippines, and Singapore benefited from investment abroad. A recent meta-analysis of the effects of foreign direct investment on local firms in developing and transition countries suggest that foreign investment robustly increases local productivity growth”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_direct_investment

    Moving on again..

    “I don’t understand how you expect to get quality training without fighting”

    My response: If you read the article, I stated that I’ve been very HAPPY with the quality of training that I have been receiving. You’ve never met me. Don’t make the assumption that the trainers aren’t taking my seriously and giving me good training.

    When you take the training seriously (don’t go party, don’t drink, don’t bring a bunch of hoes back to the gym, don’t skip sessions and give a solid effort in the gym), the trainers will usually train you well (whether you have a fight coming up or not).

  8. hey hey!
    first time reading your blog..and quite impressed!
    ….i’ve been reading your journal on your latest thai trips through the camps and i wanted to ask you if you know anything on Pataya Kombat camp.
    i saw their site and thought its a good deal but i don’t really know.
    i do box, kick box and just started muai thai and i really want to get into mma.
    A month or two sounds apealing and i would like to do it right.
    i live in greece and since things are quite difficult right now i’d like to get the best exersize and training i can get in a good deal!
    i am really interested on your thoughts and tips!
    thanks in advance!
    you are doing a great job by the way!

  9. Hi! ill be spending a month in Thailand with my son who’ll be just 15. He wants to spend his time there at a camp.So I’ve been searching for ideas on where to take him and found your words of wisdom somewhere. That led me here. I thought you’d be the perfect one to ask.
    He was keen to go to Tiger, Phuket, and made contact. That was all fine but now I find I’ll be based in Bangkok. Could you steer me towards a suitable place for him? Or are there any he should avoid? He’s not a 14 year old who looks like an adult, and isn’t too experienced either. But he is keen..
    Anything you have to say I’ll appreciate. thanks

  10. Hey Karin,

    Sorry for the delayed response.

    I guess if you’re limited to just Bangkok, you could have him train/stay at 13 coins. It seems like it would be the most suitable for a 14 year old (the rooms there are fairly nice and he should get treated well by Mr. Coke and the rest of the staff there). Of all the Bangkok gyms, I can picture that one being the best fit for your son.

    Sitsongpeenong might also be a good option as well. They have nice, private accommodation on site there. The owner is Australian/Thai and speaks perfect English. I’d look into both of those gyms a bit more. Hopefully this reply didn’t come too late..

    Bill

  11. Bangkok BJJ sounds pretty good, I’m looking at taking a trip to Thailand sometime next year..

    Really enjoy BJJ, nearest training hall is 3 hours away(the instructor moved so training here is pretty dim, small town) but also would like to take on some Muay Thai, I’ll have to check around to see what’s close to Bangkok BJJ, where i can also train MT.

    Any ideas? If not then I’ll have to look around.

    Really enjoy your blog btw 🙂

  12. Kyle,

    Another option for BJJ would be the Q23 academy. It’s changing locations soon I believe and will be accessible by the sky train. They don’t have Muay Thai though I don’t think.

    If you wanted somewhere to train both grappling and Muay Thai, then you should check out the new Team Quest facility that’s opening next month in Chiang Mai.

  13. I think i might give the new Team Quest a go!

    I’ve never really done any striking here (bit of boxing that’s it), shall be interesting..

    and probably a good head start to when i move.. so i can actually train in everything i enjoy.

    Thanks 🙂

  14. What was the initial transition from canada to thailand like ? im 20 years old and planning on taking a trip there to train for a month.If all goes to plan It will be my first time traveling out of the country alone and im intrested to know if you have any tips on what to look out for and some does and donts. thanks in advance , brandon.

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