Travel Classes

I know I can sound all holier-than-thou when I talk about how I haven’t shopped in months, this whole needs so many clothes, stupid wasteful luxury (“the height of Capitol excess”). Walking the large, Suria Mall in Kuala Lumpur… just wow. It has that smell, that mall smell, the smell of capitalism. There are stores I used to shop at without thinking, spending hundreds at a time, like Banana Republic and Guess, and those that I can only dream of shipping in, like Burberry and BCBG. It’s almost enough to make me want a real job again.

I stand by the fact that seeing a city as an independent traveler and as a traveler on business are two very different things. I’ve visited many cities as a traveler in either class, but there are a few circumstances that have allowed me to see the same city from both sides.

Backpacker Christina--excited to be in a cemetery

The first can result from multiple visits, for instance, New York City. I’ve stayed in a hotel right off of Times Square and enjoyed a dinner of filet mignon topped with foie gras and truffle macaroni. I’ve stood in the rain for over an hour, trying to find the right bus or ferry to get to Staten Island and praying my Kindle didn’t get wet.

The second way to experience a city both as bourgeous and backpacker is if a city is a level so economically beneath your home country (ie: cheap), that even no money is some money . All I need is a glance at the international exchange rates to remind me that that the dollar doesn’t go nearly as far as it used to, especially compared to other first-world currencies (damn you, Great British Pound!). The US Dollar buys so many insert-cheaper-currency-here that a city like Budapest, Hungary, will accept you and your dusty flip-flops into a restaurant with waiters who have crumbers (this means its fancy).

First Class Christina--knows to sacrifice feeling in her fingers for pretty

I think that there are benefits and disadvantages to each type of travel. I think that if a city appeals to you and you have the means, trying to see both sides is great. You could argue that more of the local culture exists on the ground floor, so to speak, and you be right. Night markets and street stalls, taking public transportation, sitting in parks, visiting grocery stores, can give you a taste of how it feels to live in that culture. However, there is something to be said for taxis that whisk you through the streets, the best version of local cuisine (if you’re giving a foreigner a taste of an American burger, you’re not going to Macdonald’s), museums and other activities reserved for those with more free time and disposable income.

I guess this means I can’t stop traveling!

Training — Post 1

Today I finished my 8th day of training. A day of training consists of classes from 7:30 am to 9:30 am and then 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm (give 15 minutes before class for a warm-up). It is so exhausting! Spending approximately 4 hours day working out is supremely exhausting. You would think that the body and mind are two different systems, but they are pretty dependent on one another. I have all these goals to achieve, along with learning muay thai, involving studying and learning language, literature, etc. After working out for so long, being so exhausted, it’s hard to put together even a simple blog post.

It’s pretty warm here in Phuket, with highs around 90 and lows around 78. Through unscientific study, I feel like being around in the heat is way more exhausting than being in our man-made temperate climates in the Western world. You’d also think that my appetite would be increased tenfold, but I really only eat about twice a day (maybe some fruit or oreos as a snack in the middle of the day) and one of those meals is always pad thai — yummy!

Rawai Training Gym --

Training has been hard emotionally too. The first four days were just basic training, a lot of practice and shadow boxing and working through each move. After that, you join the regular class, which consists of 5 rounds on the bag, and then five rounds with a trainer wearing pads. The sweat literally pours off of you. The gym is open, as is the Thai way, and any breeze that happens to waft by is heavenly.

The last two mornings, I’ve been training with the owner of the gym, Tuk. I think this is because I must need remedial help or something. I just can’t seem to get the hang of kicking. You’d think it would be simple, just swinging your leg around. My years of Buffy watching did not prepare me for this.

I think what I need to keep in mind is that I’m training. I’m not going to get the technique perfect right away. I’m lucky that this gym is very friendly, and for all people every age and size [interesting enough, most people in the gym are mid- to late- twenties]. I’m working hard and trying my best, and I think that counts for something. I just hope that it counts enough.

Not to end on a dour note, training is amazing! I’m so glad that I followed my passion and desire to travel. I’m thinking of maybe focusing my trip on this, education and training, of fighting and language. Anyway, lots of options, lots of paths to consider, and the fighting is only adding to my confidence!