Thursday, 17 March 2011

Blood, sweat and beers at Fairtex Pattaya Sport Club and Hotel.

Many hotels wish they could treat their guests like this.
You hear it long before you see it. In fact, you smell it too before you see it. The pounding of leather gloves on body or protective pads. And the astringent whiff of liniment rubbed into aching muscles.

Following your ears and your nose leads you to the Fairtex Muay Thai Boxing ring, where the morning training session is on and a motley assortment of tattooed locals and foreigners is beating the tripe out of each other. Knees rise into guts. Sweat beads fly as a head flicks back. Groans of effort. Moans of pain. Then rrrrrrrrriiinnngggg -- the digital buzzer signals four minutes is up, and the 20 or so belligerents ease up for a quick swig of a drink and draw their breath.

I must admit there are more genteel welcomes to hotels, involving iced towels, and damsels on bended knees proferring frozen lemongrass drinks, but Fairtex Hotel and Sports Camp is not your average hotel.

It was built on the back of blood, sweat and tears by Khun Jong, founder of the Fairtex sportswear label, himself a former boxing promoter-turned-squillionaire who used to get around in a massive Chicago-pimp-style gas-guzzler, which is still parked under this hotel.

It's actually a quiet place.
Pompous touches are evident everywhere, from overstuffed animal skin couches that would make Louis X1V feel inadequate, to glass banisters, and carved-glass fittings in the reception, although it's overall a mid-class family resort hotel in a faux ancient Thai-brick setting. Rooms range from barracks (10 to a dorm) to 65m deluxe suites.

If you're keen to knock yourself into shape (or be knocked into shape more likely!) Fairtex is the place. Sign up for just one day, or a month like many, and enjoy an hour of boxing each morning and afternoon, plus badminton, pool, tennis, basketball, bicycle spinning, gym and table tennis. All this from just 2400 baht per day (about $80).

This camp has produced a number of champions, including Yod Sanklai and Naruepol. Plus Mana 'Lor' Chaiknansuk, who reached number 2 (see next blog for his fighting story).

Then the buzzer rings again and it's action stations. All around, the explosive percussion of thudding leather. Rhythmically at first, then building to a rousing climax as the bell nears. Not a ripple of flab anywhere, jing jing.

And this was the moment I discovered I am a wimp. Having done several years of high-grade karate, I declined with thanks when one of the grinning instructors beckoned me to join him in the ring (the last time I was asked to join anyone in the ring was at Mardi Gras, but that's another story. For the record I declined then, too.)

An instructor getting kicked in the ring
I just couldn't see me soaking up that amount of punishment. Elbows, and kicks, and jabs, and knees. Forgeddaboutit!!! He feels my bicep and laughs. Ouch, that really hurt. The laugh I mean. Jing jing!

On balance, I think I'll settle for a game of badminton. Mind you, those feathers can hurt a bit too.

Glutton for punishment? Click on

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