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Muay Thai, Thailand’s National Sport

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Dating back hundreds of years, Thai Boxing or Muay Thai- The Art of Eight Limbs, is a close-combat, self-defense martial art incorporating the eight ‘weapons’ of the human body: fists, knees, elbows and feet.

Over the past 20 years, Muay Thai has swept across the world, not only as a professional fighting style but also as part of many fitness programmes. The popularity of martial arts has been one of the driving factors in Muay Thai’s appeal, besides the influence of cinema, especially  internationally successful films such as ‘Kickboxer’ starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Rituals

All Muay Thai fights start with the ‘Wai Kru’ and ‘Ram Muay’, very important parts of the sport. Wai Kru is a ritual performed before each fight during which a fighter will circle the ring three times and then bow down in the middle of the ring to ask protection for him or herself and the other fighter, and for an honorable fight. The fighters will then perform the Ram Muay, which is a personal ritual, in which each fighter demonstrates his or her prowess to the audience and the opponent.

Music is another essential part of a Muay Thai fight, with drums, flutes and cymbals all adding to the excitement, drama and spectacle of the fight.

Before padded gloves and boxing rings came into the sport, Muay Thai fighters would wrap their hands in cotton or rope and fights would take place on the ground, with a rope laid out in a circle to mark the ring’s boundaries.

Training

Muay Thai fighters are accomplished athletes, following a training programme that has not really changed over the years. That said, today’s competitors are more likely to practice their kicks on a heavy bag rather than a banana tree trunk (although there are some Muay Thai gyms that still use the old training methods). 

Fighters’ training is brutal. They start at 6am every morning with a run of between four and eight kilometres. Then it’s back to the gym for the morning session, which mainly consists of cardio and shadow boxing. That’s followed by breakfast and rest before the late morning session of jump rope, more shadow boxing, pad work with the trainer, heavy bag work, 5 – 10 rounds of sparring and then abdominal work.

Most fighters will rest during the afternoon in preparation for the evening training session,

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A Day to Remember in Phuket

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With its vivid blue sea, white sand beaches and fiery tropical sunsets, Phuket is amongst the world’s most favoured wedding destinations. Aside from its breathtaking natural beauty, this Thai island is home to a rich and friendly culture, incredible cuisine and some outstanding villa venues offering expert hospitality and exquisite locales for saying, “I do”.

You’ve found true love and you’re ready to commit to each other. What better way to celebrate the start of this grand adventure than with a Phuket wedding? For couples bound by love tinged with wanderlust, tying the knot in a tropical paradise offers an enticingly exotic way to launch into a journey of wedded bliss.

Malaiwana’s Villa Haleana

With its modern design and elegant furnishings, Villa Haleana is an ideal wedding villa for the stylish set. Enjoy magical sea views from its hillside setting, with Nai Thon Beach just below, perfect for taking in the sunset or going for a stroll. Located within the secure Malaiwana Estate, Villa Haleana is perfect for weddings and large celebrations, with the option of accommodating the entire wedding party in neighbouring and equally luxurious villas and residences. Found along the lesser-travelled northwest Phuket coast, between the airport and the touristy part of town, it is situated along a quiet stretch, yet walking distance from restaurants, local stores and bars. 

Absolute heaven awaits with an 18-metre pool, large pool terrace, lavish spa room, gym, and multiple areas to dine, relax and entertain. Effortlessly elegant, yet warmly welcoming, all six bedrooms offer stunning sea views. Villa Haleana can host up to 80 guests for an event.

First-hand account of a Villa Haleana bride:

On April 16, 2019, we hosted an amazing wedding in Phuket, with our beloved friends and families. It took eight months of preparation, with a lot of ups and downs leading up to the wedding day. Mother Nature added an element of fun, as it started raining during our outdoor wedding. But The Bridal Planner Team consistently supported and helped us throughout the planning process. What could have been a disaster, turned into one of the most memorable weddings ever! Our friends and family loved every moment of the indoor entertainment.

-Debbie Lee

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Inside Phuket’s Vegetarian Festival

in Culture/Destinations by

Festivals provide an interesting peek into the local culture, and Phuket’s Vegetarian Festival is no exception. Also known as Nine Emperor God Festival or Jia Chai, it falls in the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar. Thailand and exoticism go hand-in-hand, and this Taoist festival is celebrated with a unique zeal here. Each shrine is extensively cleaned, in anticipation of the festival and giant Go Teng poles are raised on the first day (to be lowered after the last) symbolically to allow the Jade Emperor and other Nine Emperors to come down from the heavens and walk the earth again. 

Rules of the Festival

The name may have you believing that it is a food festival showcasing vegetarian delights. Though the streets are lined on both sides with hawkers selling vegetarian fare, it is not the highlight of the festival. Instead, it marks a period where devotees are expected to follow ten strict rules, and observe abstainance from meat, alcohol, sex, and other stimulants. The locals believe that following these rules allows them to achieve a greater level of spirituality, and is a way of honouring the Gods.

Processions

However, the festival is not celebrated behind closed doors. Like many things Thai, this too is a boisterous public celebration, and one not for the faint-hearted. The Vegetarian Festival in Phuket involves processions wherein devotees perform self mutilation and all other kinds of torture on themselves to shift ill-luck and evil from other worshipers onto themselves. They believe that by doing so, they can bring good luck to the community.

Expect vibrant and chaotic processions, with firecrackers being thrown around, lion dances, and coal-walking. You may find people with their cheeks pierced with spears, knives and other paraphernalia.

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How To Be Culturally Correct in Thailand

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Known as ‘The Land of Smiles’, Thailand is a treasure trove of cultural delights, inhabited by gracious and warm people. While Thais are known for being open, tolerant and hospitable, they may not always understand the nuances and eccentricities of other cultures. With this in mind, courtesy and respect in all your interactions with local people goes a long way.

Here are a few tips to help bridge cultural gaps and enhance your stay in Thailand:

THE DOs

Do try to wai.

This much-used Thai greeting involves a slight bow, with hands pressed together at upper chest level in a prayer-like way. Younger people will wai their elders first, and the greeting is then reciprocated. The Wai is also used to say ‘goodbye’ and ‘thank you’, and generally to show respect.

Do accompany your wai with a hello: “Sawasdee kha” (if you are a woman) and “Sawasdee khrap” (if you are a man).
Do get travel insurance.

Accidents happen and can be even more daunting when you are away from home. Gravity’s pull on a falling coconut harms more world travelers every year than sharks do!


Do visit some temples.

Thailand is full of beautiful temples (wats) and visiting them provides a fascinating window into many aspects of daily life. Visitors are welcomed, but proper dress is expected. Good temple etiquette requires that your legs, shoulders and upper arms are covered and shoes are removed. Temples regularly visited by tourists will usually have sarongs available for those who turn up inadequately dressed, but when visiting lesser-known temples, it’s useful to bring your own.

Do be adventurous with Thai cuisine.

Thai food is usually lightly cooked and fragrant, with an emphasis on fresh herbs and spices. Sweet, sour and spicy flavours are combined to create dishes that not only taste sublime, but are beautiful to look at too. The food can get quite fiery, so let them know if you can not handle too much chilli.

Do eat with a spoon.

Most Thai dishes are served in bite-size pieces and eaten with a spoon and fork, but the fork is just used to push food onto the spoon.

Do haggle when you are market shopping.

Haggling is expected and taken as a bit of fun.

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Get Ready to Be Wowed at Cape Yamu, Phuket

in Destinations/Dining/Recreation by

If you are seeking tranquillity, seclusion and endless sea views, consider planning your next holiday at Cape Yamu, Phuket. This remote peninsula is located on the eastern side of the island, overlooking the picturesque Phang Nga Bay. Cape Yamu is both topographically and metaphorically a cut above other popular tourist spots in Phuket. While it has evolved from a predominantly fishing and farming community, Cape Yamu remains set against a breathtaking and diverse natural environment peppered with traditional villages enclosed within rubber, coconut and cashew plantations. It is now considered an exclusive holiday destination unashamedly preferred by those seeking a unique and luxurious holiday experience.  

Cape Yamu is home to a variety of elite havens, and each luxurious holiday home boasts sensational sea views, attentive staff and finely appointed amenities. Whichever haven you choose, you are assured of the very highest level of service, and exclusive access to the Elite Concierge, to organise day trips, excursions, transport and everything in between.

Here are top three reasons you should pick Cape Yamu for your next Thailand holiday:

World-Class Dining

When you stay at an elite haven, you have access to personal chefs who have been trained in some of the best professional kitchens in the country. Your villa chef will be happy to stir up a delicious meal for your entire group. From Thai specialities to International favourites, each dish will have you craving for more. However, if you wish for a change of scene, you are spoilt for choice too. Catering to globe-trotting travellers, the east coast has a classy dining scene.  Nahmyaa Thai Restaurant, at COMO Point Yamu Resort, boasts of localised favourites with a healthy twist. Seafood lovers will love everything on the menu at Laem Hin Seafood, which offers flavourful Thai dishes, to be enjoyed against the backdrop of sea views that extend till Coconut Island. If you want to be adventurous, hop aboard a long-tail boat and dine at one of the floating restaurants just offshore.

Yachting Adventures

Ask the Elite Concierge to organise a yacht or speedboat for your group and head out into the deep blue. Phang Nga Bay, often featured in movies and shows, is famous for little limestone cliff islands, mangrove forests and floating villages.

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