After the overnight train (cool experience overall, despite how I might have sounded in my last post 🙂 ) and a four hour bus ride we finally landed in Chalong district on a street called Soi Tai Iad. Now, when I booked our place online I had no idea what I was actually getting into. I mean, I knew it was located on a street between Tiger Muay Thai and Phuket Top Team, probably the two most well known fight teams in Thailand (at least from an internet surfing USA perspective) but having just come back from four months living in the Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, I guess I just thought it was normal to have schools on every block.
Soi Tai Iad is something different, some might say special, others might say it is….well, a caricature of the fight/fitness world: A cartoon of sorts, exaggerating everything you thought a fitness life style might be about.
After we settled into our guesthouse ( a sweet little bungalow with AC, bathroom – with half-indoor, half-outdoor shower – King-sized bed (still hard as a rock) and a pool) we decided to walk up to Soi Tai Iad and have a walk around. What we found was amazing, even to me.
There are exactly five kinds of storefronts on Soi Ta Iad: Gyms (both fitness and fight), Muscle Bars (think smoothie bars but with protein shakes and testosterone boosters), Massage parlors, tattoo parlors, and pharmacies. Everywhere you look there is another “PowerSmash” gym or “Muay Thai” gym, or “MassiveSmoothie” bar. It’s nuts!
There are jacked up, shredded dudes walking everywhere and fit girls in leggings running up and down the street. Every twenty meters or so, there is an old lady running a laundry service with kimonos and Muay Thai shorts hanging in the sun. I had no idea it was this focused on the fight life in this district.
One person I met went so far as to say…”This isn’t Thailand.” Which I don’t disagree with. Mind you, if you are looking to train BJJ, this is the place to be! Phuket Top Team has straight up awesome instructors in Professor Olavo and Joao Paulo! No doubt! There is also Tiger Muay Thai (which has more of an MMA focus) and a new gym UTFF (which I am not sure of there focus because they are brand new) I know they have some crossfit classes because I have seen them dragging shit up and down the driveway 🙂 and then there is Dragon Muay Thai (mostly all Muay Thai, from what I can tell). Otherwise Soi Tai Ied is not really the “learning experience” I look for when travelling (meaning learning new cultures) because it is full of Russians (it’s kind of like “their Mexico” from the USA perspective) Germans, French and other westerners.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any thing against Russians or Europeans for sure…its just that, meeting them on a small street in Thailand teaches me nothing of Thai culture or Russian culture, or German, or French, etc….
My experience here has not been bad, but it was just very unexpected. I had no idea I would be walking into “Muscle Beach” California…in Thailand. I’m not even kidding. The whole street (about 1.5-2 km worth) has just sprung up around the Muay Thai / fight / fitness industry. Truly unexpected.
Pharmacies here don’t carry the world’s oldest and most prescribed blood pressure medicine (I know because I have been looking) but they do carry Test Cyp, Test Prop, and Test E…at a very low cost, mind you. Just really strange.
The Good news?!! The food is just as good here as in Bangkok! Sure, there is some variation in price and quality depending on where you go but, in general, you are going to pay around $2.00 for a good meal here!
So, there it is! Probably not an original expose, but what the hell. For me, it was a totally different experience than I had expected. So, if you are coming to Thailand on holiday to check out Phuket Top Team, just know two things 1) PTT is great and well worth the 300THB for a class (about $7 US) and 2) If you want to experience the culture of Thailand, you will HAVE to leave Soi Tai Ied!
Oss and good training!