There was an earthquake here a few days ago, a 4.5 on the Richter scale, but I seem to have been the only one completely oblivious to its occurrence. My first earthquake and I didn’t get to feel it at all. It was small, so most people just felt a little tremble, but I missed it and don't know how.
As it turns out, my dad isn't closing down his office, I just happened to have slightly misread the email from my aunt. He's just closing it down on Wednesdays to try and cut costs. Auntie is now in search of another job for that one day and inquired about working at BRL. I let her know it was probably the worst idea I’d ever heard.
This afternoon I worked for two hours in the self access center on campus sitting in an air conditioned room waiting for students to approach me with questions. Nobody did, so I just read and wrote for two hours and got paid the same as what I get for teaching; easiest money I ever made, though it was hard not to fall asleep. My stomach was grumbling, so I grabbed a bite to eat at Boat, a diner just down the road from CMU. The club sandwich served to me was undoubtedly the weirdest club sandwich I've ever had. I don’t know if it could even be considered a club sandwich. Instead of turkey and ham, it contained egg and hotdog and some other questionable ingredients. Luckily I was hungry enough that it didn’t matter too much.
Back at Baan Thai, “Best” came to pick me up on his motorbike before heading off for Muay Thai practice. Several weeks back Song-Si tried to set me up with someone knowledgeable about Thai boxing, and through a series of completely random introductions, “Best” and I were introduced.
“I’m sorry, what’s your name again?” I asked struggling to understand through his accent.
“How do you spell that?”
“B-E-S-T. The best.”
“Wait, your name is Best? Are you serious?”
“Yes. My name is Best.”
“Best” is obviously his English nickname, but he doesn’t even pronounce it properly. So after several weeks of failed attempts to coordinate a training session, today was finally going to be the day. We drove back to the university gym and he introduced me to this 40 something year old Italian guy who's supposedly sweet at Muay Thai and happens to be earning his Bachelors Degree in philosophy from Payapp, a Christian university in Chiang Mai where the other PiA girls teach. It made me a little curious wondering what a 40 year old Italian man is doing studying Philosophy at a Thai university, but I decided to let it go. As I later learned, there are even English-speaking Europeans that come over to Thailand and major in English.
I tried to put such nonsense out of my mind before Best and I entered CMU’s gymnasium replete with badminton nets, a corner designated for the ping pong team, and another corner occupied by a boxing ring. We proceeded to work on fundamentals, which somehow I never seemed to have learned back in the States – things like upside down push-ups against the wall and various leg strengthening exercises while maintaining proper hand positioning. These proved quite challenging as anyone who knows me has seen my rare breed of chicken legs. I tried to make a few excuses and attributed my lack of balance to being flat-footed. That didn’t stop me from letting loose on the punching bag when Best asked me to demonstrate my skills. Everyone in the giant gymnasium watched as I threw a mix of coordinated and uncoordinated jabs, crosses, uppercuts, and wild kicks.
Best was nice enough to give me a pair of hand wraps to keep for good, and we practiced the ancient art of “Bong, Bat, Bit, Bo”, which roughly translates into something along the lines of block, move, something, something. We finished up with some general stretching, more bizarre push-ups, and some weird spider-man crawl type thing in order to "rid the chest of its lactic acid." Afterwards we went into this kid's room who lives in the back of the gymnasium and watched bare-knuckle Muay Thai matches on dvd until Best's girlfriend arrived with his motorbike and he took me home. Before saying goodbye, he mentioned that for next time I must gather together three lotus flowers, three sticks of incense, and a candle – something about an offering for the Muay Thai spirit. (note: It’s now a week and a half later, Best has since been AWOL, while the three lotus flowers, three sticks of incense, and candle are all still sitting in my fridge)