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Is Muay Thai The Martial Art YOU Need To Discover?

With the rise in popularity of mixed martial arts and the UFC, Muay Thai has become more popular then ever before. But is it the best form of martial arts for you to learn?

Let’s take a closer look at Muay Thai…

It is rather hard to pinpoint the exact start and history of Muay Thai as it has evolved through the years and still continues to evolve today.

Muay Thai is considered by some to have been a deviation of a martial art from south east China. Others believe that it came from an enchant form of kickboxing in India.

Muay Thai began as Krabi Krabong, the Siamese military fighting style with a sword in one hand. Developing through time and natural evolution of the art, it gave birth to Muay Boran, ancient style Muay Thai. As battlefield warfare evolved into a more technological basis, hand to hand combat was no longer required within the military, and Muay Thai became a sporting martial art, kept alive in Thailand as a competetive sport, and for many, a way of life.

The basic concept of Muay Thai has not changed much over the years… Martial Arts like karate and tae-kwon-do mainly focus on striking and ‘hard’ forms of very straight kicks. Muay Thai has always had a focus around punching with a boxing style, using knees and elbows to defend and block kicks and punches as well, the kicking is not as ‘hard’ in its form as other main line martial arts.

The one very unique strategy that Muay Thai embraces is a technique called the “Clinch”. How the “Clinch” works is, your hands are wrapped around the other person’s neck for leverage so you can use your knee to get in and start working on the other persons mid section. It is a very effective technique if you know what you are doing.

The one thing you need to know about Muay Thai is that it is a FULL CONTACT SPORT. Yes it is a martial art at its core but from a functional prospective it is a sport and with that means you are going to get into very good shape when you train in Muay Thai.

This also brings up another challenge… Your risk of getting injured is greater with Muay Thai then it is with most other traditional martial arts. The reason for this is because your always training with contact!

The one thing that Muay Thai has is a great built in self-defense component. Because you spend most of your time sparring with others, you get to experience full-contact fighting on a regular basis. So from a self-defense perspective… It is a real winner!

Is Muay Thai For You?

The only way to find out is to go and checkout a few schools in your area so you can see first hand if you like Muay Thai! They will offer you a free class and sometimes a free month. It is well worth your time to check out your local schools.

Southern Thailand: the Andaman Coast

As Highway 4 switches from the east flank of the Thailand peninsula to the Andaman coast it enters a markedly different country : nourished by rain nearly all the year round, the vegetation down here is lushly tropical, with forests replacing up to 80m in height, and massive rubber and coconut plantations replacing the rice and sugar-cane fields of central Thailand. In this region’s heartland the drama of the landscape is enhanced by sheer limestone crags, topographical hallmarks that spike every horizon and make for stunning views from the road. Even more spectacular and the main crowd-puller – is the Andaman Sea itself : translucent turquoise and so clear in some places that you can see to a depth of 30m, it harbors the country’s largest coral reefs and is far and away the top diving area in Thailand.

Unlike the Gulf coast, the Andaman coast is hit by the southwest monsoon form May to October, when the rain and high seas render some of the outer islands inaccessible. However, conditions aren’t generally severe enough to ruin a holiday on the other islands, while the occasional mainland cloudburst is offset by the advantage of notably less expensive and crowded accommodation. Although some bungalows at the smaller resorts shut down entirely during low season.

Eager to hit the high-profile beaches of Phuket and Krabi, most people either fly over the first three-hundred-kilometer stretch of the west coast or ass through it on an overnight bus, thereby missing out on the lushly forested hills of Ranong province and bypassing several gems: the tiny and still idyllic island of Ko Chang (not to be confused with its larger, more famous namesake off the east coast); the Ko Surin and Ko Similan island chains, whose reefs rate alongside the Maldives and the Great Barrier Reef; the enjoyable Khao Sok National Park, where you can stay in a tree-house beneath the shadows of looming limestone outcrops; and the mid-market resort of Khao Lak, which hugs the rugged mainland coast on the edge of Khao Lak National Park. Tourism begins in earnest on Phuket, Thailand’s largest island and the best place to learn to dive. The high-rises and consumerist gloss that characterize much of Phuket don’t appeal to everyone, however, and many travelers opt instead for the slightly less mainstream but very popular beaches around the former fishing village of Krabi. Nearby the stunningly beautiful Ko Phi Phi attracts a lot of attention considering its size, and is beginning to crack under the strain, so many travelers have moved on again, searching out hideaways on Ko Lanta and bringing custom to the tiny retreats of Ko Jum and Ko Bubu.

Getting to Andaman coast destinations is made easy by Highway 4, also known as the Phetkasem Highway – and usually called Thanon Phetkasem when it passes through towns. The road runs from Bangkok to the Malaysian border, and frequent air-con and ordinary busses ply this route, connecting all major – and most minor – mainland tourist destinations. There is no rail line down the Andaman coast by bus before preceding southwards. Ferries to the most popular islands usually leave several times a day (with reduced services during the monsoon season), but for more remote destinations you may have to charter your own or wait for islanders’ trading boats to pick you up. Alternatively, you fly direct to the Andaman coast: there’s a busy international airport on Phuket, plus useful local ones in Krabi and Ranong.

Highlights
Khao Sok National Park – Sleep in a tree-house and wake to the sound of hooting gibbons. more …
Ko Similan – Remote chain of islands with some of the best diving in the word. more …
Reefs and wreaks – Dive Thailand’s finest underwater sights from Phuket, Ko Nang or Ko Phi Phi. more…
Phuket – Thailand’s largest island and p province in its own right. There are many activities of watersport, diving more…
Sea-canoeing along the Krabi coastline – The perfect way to explore the region’s myriad mangrove swamps and secret lagoons. more…
Rock climbing on Leam Phra Nang – Get a bird’s eye view of fabulous coastlal scenery. more …
Ko Lanta – The loveliest white sand beach. more …
Ko Jum – Tiny island where there’s nothing to do but chill out. more …

reference info. by The Rough Guide

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Phi Phi Island

Phuket Island

Adventures In Thailand’s Wilderness

Thailand has always held a special place in my heart. I first travelled there in 1991, a wide eyed kid wet behind the ears with a bucket shop one way ticket to Bangkok. My grand plans of a short beach break before heading down to the east coast of Australia joining the 1000’s of Pommie pilgrims earning a right of passage didn’t exactly go to plan. I left Thailand eleven months later to return home penniless, emancipated and full of great stories, which my friends soon got bored with.

I returned a few times mainly to Bangkok and Koh Samui happy to be back in the land of smiles but feeling slightly disappointed at all the changes. The old story of development being good for the locals but not good for my sense of adventure. That didn’t deter me from joining the Imaginative Travellers Wilderness Adventure two years ago.

Arriving in Bangkok this time was different. I had a hotel booked so no lugging my pack in Bangkok’s suffocating mixture of exhaust fumes, heat and humidity looking for a clean bed. I had a group to meet too, this was also good, eating Pad Thai on your own looking for a fellow traveller to strike a conversation with can be hard work. There were 10 of us, a mix of Poms, Aussies, a Canadian, an American and a South African. We all met for dinner and shortly after my first Thai beer I knew this would be a fun trip

Bangkok to me means food and shopping and the best place to find both is the Chata Chuk weekend market. I headed there with belly empty and wallet full destined to reverse the two. The market is huge, really huge, 35 acres of cheap goodies huge and sells everything from furniture to genuine fake designer clothes. The street food is fantastic but remember the Thai’s like it hot. I left my shopping with the hotel to keep safe as I would be returning there once I finished the trip.

Off to Chiang Mai on the overnight train. I like travelling like this, sleeping while moving makes sense to me and the train is clean, functional, safe and fine. I think Chiang Mai is the perfect place to escape hectic Bangkok. It’s a peaceful, happy place and that reflects in the locals. Sight seeing will take you to the Wat Pratat Doi Suthep temple – stunning and golden on a sunny day. The next stage of the trip was trekking in the surrounding jungle, I decided I needed a massage before we set off.

A trek in the hills of Northern Thailand is a chance to escape everyday life and clear your head. The going is not too difficult for someone with fairly good fitness although if it rains the mud can be tricky. I was enjoying my own head space when we arrived at the first village of wooden homes, pecking chickens and lots of smiles, basic but I couldn’t think of anywhere else I would rather have been. Chan, our guide, was a local from a neighbouring village and before long he had us divided amongst our village hosts before the sun set and got too difficult for us city people to do anything without electric light. That night, with the noise of the surrounding jungle lying on a mattress roll on a bamboo floor, was maybe the most peaceful night’s sleep I have ever had.

The next day’s trek was shorter and we covered ground quicker, maybe we were getting used to the trekking but I think it was the excitement of the elephant ride to come that afternoon. Lunch was delicious but we were too busy watching the elephants wash in the river to notice. Elephants are brilliant creatures and being on one journeying deeper into the jungle is a fantastic experience.

The next morning Chan had us up early helping him and the village men build our rafts to take us down river to civilization. It is all part of the experience helping the guys and by helping I mean staying out of their way while they expertly craft our rafts. A serene float down to the nearest small town where our bus was waiting to take us to a hot shower and another massage.

We left Chiang Mai and headed back to Bangkok where we broke the journey up to the south with an over night stay in the city of angels.

I had heard a few good things about Khoa Sok national park, not too popular with tourists or backpackers alike due it not having a major bus stop. To get there you need to stop the bus by the 3rd banyan tree after 17th stream near the big hill and you will find a bakkie waiting to take you into the park. I’m glad we had a tour leader. The first night we slept with the birds in tree houses the second and third we stayed in raft houses on a man made dam. It is a truly beautiful area and a few of us spent the days swimming in waterfalls, flooded caves, kayaking and hiking and some of just sat back and took it all in.

How to finish this Thailand trip? On the beach of course. The islands around Krabi are what we visualize when we think of a Thai beach and they do not disappoint. The Thai’s have a word called sabai, loosely translated it means an inner happiness and contentment. I woke one afternoon from a napping on the beach and understood exactly what sabai means.