I left Ubon Rachathani this morning for Khon Kaen. I caught the 12:30 pm bus. It took me 5 hours. Not too bad. Luckily the bus didn’t stop every 2 minutes (it stopped every 15) to pick some random dude off the side of the road, which is very common for non-luxury long distance buses here in Thailand. They’re sort of a mix between a long distance bus and a city bus. Its very convenient for people who want to catch any bus heading in their direction, you don’t need to be waiting at a bus stop. But it gets annoying if your the one who got on at the source of the bus and have to feel the bus made sudden breaks every time the bus driver THINKS that someone is waiting for the bus.
I have been to Khon Kaen a few times on brief stops, either on the way to Laos or visiting friends outside of the city in the Isaan country side. Pretty plain Thai city, nothing much to do here if your here for a few days. For some reason though I am seeing a lot more foreign tourists walking around. I have seen farang who retire here (old guys with their Thai wives) and have seen farang who are teaching English, you can pick them out from regular tourists by the way they carry themselves. I don’t know why the sudden interest in Khon Kaen for these backpackers, I suppose its just people wanting to get off the beaten path or possibly on the way to Laos. I think alot of people come to Thailand with the misconception that there going to be like, the 10th white person to ever stop foot in the country. They then realize that about 25% of the western world comes here on a regular basis. By the way I”m kidding, its not that high but sometimes it really seems that way. As I start seeing more and more hippies and backpackers, which I am bound to since I will be heading to Chiang Mai and Pai next, you’ll probably start hearing me complain about them more and more. I’ll forget them for now. Just know that I don’t think they’re all really annoying, but many of them, far too many, definitely are.
I start training tomorrow morning. I am alone in this crappy hotel room (170 baht per night) so I am hoping I will fall asleep early from sheer boredom, I had a Thai friend call the camp Sor King Star before i left Ubon so they are expecting me. You may be wondering how I even found this camp. Once again, sort of like Legacy i sort of stumbled upon it out of sheer luck. I was wanting to train in Isaan for a while and I decided to pick Khon kaen because i was familiar with the city and even though training in some camp in the boonies would be interesting (I have done it before in a place called Chumpae but only for one day) I assumed that the camps in the major cities of Isaan would be where the top guys from country side went to befor eheading to Bangkok if not staying there throughout their careers. So, I asked a tuk-tuk driver to take me to a camp and he did. When I got there the driver kept saying “Khai Muay Kang Raeng” meaning “Strong Muay Thai Camp.” I didn’t figure it all out until I did some research on my own. When i go train tomorrow I will get some more information.
So, hello Khon Kaen and Sor. King Star. Goodbye Ubon Rachathani and Legacy Gym. Legacy was a good gym and I am sure I will go back, if anything to visit my friend Niran who will now be living there for a while. Solid pad work, frequent sparring and serious students made it a great place. I attached some pictures from my last session with one of the young Thais training in the ring. That is another hallmark of a good “farang” camp. If the camp is training new fighters as well as foreigners they are serious about having a legitimate camp and are not only a money making machine. However there are plenty of exceptions to the rule, so, just because a camp has young Thai fighters doesn’t always make it good, but it generally does, nor does a lack of young Thais and only foreigners necessarily make it a “tourist camp” though it often does.
I will try and update you ASAP on how my first day at Sor King Star went.