Phi Phi Islands, Thai Box and How I Stopped Throwing Ice Away

If you stay in Krabi, you are bound to visit some of those beautiful islands in the area. There are many to choose from, the weirdly shaped Chicken Island, the James Bond Island (famous – obviously – thanks to one of the Bond movies, The Man with the Golden Gun), the lovely Hong Island or the National Park of the Phi Phi Islands which became notorically famous thanks to the movie The Beach, starring young Leonardo Di Caprio.

To me, the Phi Phi Islands seemed the most appropriate option, offering all I want from a boat trip – a small speed boat (circa 20 people) to take you to the place, bottled water free on board, island hopping (to Ko Leh, the Leh island, whose Maya beach became one of the most-known shots in the movie; to Ko Don, the main island, very touristy but offering plenty of chances for good lunch – included in the price of the trip; an Bamboo island, the most romantic one, with only one bar and washrooms for the people visiting, and one dilapited house right on the beach – what a dream home that must have been once – and otherwise lush jungle, big butterflies and monitor lizards and pristine clear sea all around), snorkelling (yes, jumping of the boat straight to the sea in two turquoise coral filled lagoons) and seeing some cool “sights” such as the Monkey Bay (with monkeys running all over the cliffs) and the Viking Cave (where swiftlets are kept and fed to gain their edible nests which are a great gourmet and health-style thing in certain countries, mainly in China).

I met two other solo travellers on the boat, Iago from Spain and Christian from Germany, both cool gents with whom I got to spend most of the day, swimming, snorkelling, because sharing all those “wow, have you seen the shoals of fish and the swordfish” is simply nicer than keeping it all to yourself.

Our guide was a Thai woman of my age with quite good English, very nice and kind, and she explained to us a lot about the National Park. However, I was too thrilled by the boat itself and its free-spirited run through the sea to listen very carefully, observing the water from the stern and letting the drops of blue waters fall on me. I think I truly must have been a sailor in a past life…

Now, good things usually multiply, so it comes as no wonder that just a few days after this wonderful trip (I definitely recommend to buy a package trip from an agency, the Phi Phi experience cost me 1200 BHT including everything, the Park entrance (400) and the lunch, whereas a ferry only to Don island, a return ticket, costs 800 BHT) Nick from our team took me to a Thai Box (called Muay Thai) training with him – he wanted to try out a gym near our yoga centre to see if cooperation would be possible.

Thai Box, rooted in Thailand, is naturally a big thing here, you find various gyms along the roads, you can buy T-shirts with Thai Box pics and a Thai Box professional fighter is very much appreciated by people of various backgrounds here. I was astonished by the perfect strategy and flawlessness the sport requires as well as the amount of physical and mental aptitude that is needed in order to do it well. It was my first time seeing Thai Box properly and I have to say I am thrilled it is about to become an official Olympic sport.

It was Nick´s first time Thai Box training so I got to hear all those explanations and see the hard beginnings as well as an amazing professional fighter – six year younger, congenial, focused, dedicated English man with roots in Nigeria, who was training at the same time and whose precision and zeal I observed with admiration. I was grateful to get to know Femi, whose name literally means “love me” or in full version “father loves me” and whose strength, willpower and honest devotion (which I have never been able to find in me towards anything except, perhaps, yoga) combine amazingly with deep intuition and insight that help him read people easily. I was totally impressed by this man and I know one day I shall hear of him again.

What I have tried out of Thai Box was merely the final part of the training – the stretching. There, I felt at ease; everything else just seemed too demanding.

I think yoga and Thai Box would combine really nicely together and interestingly, Thai Box is called “The Art of 8 Limbs” (two hands, two feet, two knees, two elbows) which necessarily reminds me of Patanjali´s 8 Limbs in Yoga Sutra. Speaking of Sutras… there are yogi practitioners aware of real Tantra Yoga (not the Western image of it which resembles swingers´ parties), Mulabandha, kundalini, injaculation and such; it requires certain discipline to be an awaken Tantra Yogi – and funny enough, professional Thai Box fighters are required to observe similar discipline (e.g. they are not supposed to ejaculate two weeks before a fight). Certain phenomena just unexpectedly share more than one could think… it cannot be a coincidence.

Now, only thanks to Femi did I stop throwing away ice from my cups and glasses. You see, generally, archetypically, we are warned not to consume ice in a foreign, non-Western country. The myth is that ice in those countries is made of tap water… Everywhere! For sure! Don’t drink their table water or take the ice or eat the ice cream! God knows where the water comes from!

So, when I went to a canteen and I would get a glass filled with ice to pour the table water over (which I also did not trust for a long time until once I was so thirsty that I just drank it and nothing happened – obviously, because now I know that they use those barrels of potable water to fill up their jugs for table water), I would throw away the ice – and drink the rather warm table water. It never occurred to me that I could just ask in those canteens where the ice comes from. They would show me the big packs of ice they buy, made of potable barrelled water. It takes people like Femi – who simply observe or ask to know – to make a better world, really…

When I told Femi what I thought about the ice he simply asked: “Where did you get that idea from?” And I said: “Well, they even warn us on the web page of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs…” And he laughed and responded with the most genuine thought: “People of the world are alike, you know, they have more or less the same bodies, the system is alike. Why would they want to get sick drinking bad water?” And I thought about it a while and then realized that he was right; even in Vietnam and in Bali the local people were not using the non-potable tap water but the barrelled or bottled water, just like tourists. The street vendors everywhere have the barrels of potable water to make the ice teas and lemonades and all those lovely things that even the locals like to buy. How comes that Western countries bomb us with all those warnings?

So, now I indulge in ice teas without a single worry!

What I do worry about is the fact that in Krabi you do not get an alcoholic drink in a shop or a restaurant before 17:00and that there is no wifi at the Krabi airport. Yeap, I am off again. Bangkok and then Australia… what I carry with me from Krabi is the omnipresent blue colour of the ocean, some beautiful people in my heart and the lovely Namaskara Mudra they greet you with and thank you with in every single place – shops, restaurants, airport…

It is easy to fall in love with this country… and I have many additional reasons to remember this place as an unforgettable and deeply cherished memory.

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