The pasty’s (almost) over

Fuck me, has it really been two and a half weeks already?

I’m now counting down the training sessions till it’s time to hop on a plane back to my dull, dreich homeland. It may be clichéd to say time flies when you’re having fun but it doesn’t make it any less true, I could swear I just arrived a couple of days ago and I’m actually almost angry that it’s time to leave.

At the same time though it feels like I’ve been here forever, so quickly and easily did I manage to fall into the routine of training, acclimatise to the oft-stifling heat and humidity and grow to love the trainers and trainees at the camp. There seems such a natural rhythm to it now – wake up, warm up, training, chill out, eat, invent new swimming-based games to pass the time, warm up again, train, cool down, eat, read, watch movies, sleep. Repeat until visa expires. My nose anticipates the smells of cooking every morning and afternoon, my ears perfectly attuned to the rhythmic thwacks and grunts of day-long training.

Okay, so my body may never be the same again – my middle-finger knuckles on each hand are ground to a fine powder and my injured shoulder barely exists any more – but other than that I’d happily stay here a year. I’m already noticing a difference in my build so god knows what a few months in this place would do.

It’s going to be tricky to adjust to ‘normal’ food again as well. I’m so used to curry for breakfast and dinner that the idea of cereal, pizza and the like just seems so bland that I’ll be forced to take a couple of Thai cookery lessons. Between-meal snacks here take some beating too – just nip down along the road within five minutes, no matter where you are, you’ll find a stand selling all manner of skewered meats for about 60p per skewer – a hell of a lot cheaper than any protein shake! Annoyingly I still can’t track down my favourite condiment ever, a variant of nam pla used in the kitchen here which packs a hell of a kick but seems to be absent from the shelves of every supermarket and corner shop in the area. I’ve tried asking the cooks where to buy it but the just smile at me – I think it’s a family recipe not to be divulged to farangs, more’s the pity.

On top of everything else I’ll really miss my trainer. It seems everyone else here is actually pretty jealous I ended up with him; his passion for the sport is incredible, his attention to detail incredible and his sense of humour – as difficult as it may be to synch with initially – is better than any energy drink when I’m ready to throw in the towel after a heavy session. It’s a shame there’s such a language barrier – my Thai is pretty damn weak and he didn’t do much school so his English is almost as bad – but we’ve developed enough of a pidgin/sign language to understand what we need to. He still insists on pronouncing ‘toes’ as ‘twos’ but I’ll let that slide 🙂

Ach well, enough moping.

Time to look forward to five or six weeks back in Scotia before leaving for the long term. A month or so of kicking back with mates, indulging in slight debauchery, even more training (albeit of an inevitably lower standard) and fixing up a new flat in preparation for finding some tenants. Actually that last one is slightly daunting/terrifying but I’m sure it’ll all come good.

Inevitable Panicky Footnote – Now I just have to pray that the ol’ H1N1 problem here doesn’t get so bad (24 dead, WHO level 2 epidemic so far) that the government decides to close all language schools for the duration, thus rendering me jobless in a foreign country. The possibility is already being mentioned in several papers…

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