Welcome to this week’s Postcard From – the feature where I chat to some lucky explorer about their recent travels.
This week, I’m really excited to chat to the lovely Manouk BoB, the blogger behind Bunch Of Backpackers. Manouk is a 29-year-old Dutch medical doctor who still hasn’t found a cure for her travel bug. So far her travels have taken her to many corners of the world. She rafted the Nile in Uganda, hiked the Chinese wall and took fun perspective photos at the salt flats in Bolivia. In 2016 she will embark on yet another long-term trip on which she will explore Southern Africa and Central Asia. She thoroughly enjoys karaoke.
Hi Manouk! Tell us about one of your favourite trips…
Soon after I started my travel blog I had the opportunity to travel to the Land of Smiles: Thailand. It was a one-week press trip focused on Muay Thai, a traditional Thai sport. Together with many Muay Thai fighters (including champions) from all over Europe and a few journalists and bloggers we spend a full week visiting Muay Thai training camps, matches, shows and ceremonies.
How was the weather?
We visited Thailand in May and the weather was good!
What was the accommodation like on your trip?
During the trip we stayed in beautiful, four-star hotels! This was an absolute luxury upgrade compared to my previous visits to Thailand in which I slept in hostels and small guesthouses. Although I always love the cosiness and personal atmosphere in budget places, I enjoyed the amazing views from my hotel rooms, the large soft beds, the fancy swimming pools and the extensive breakfast buffets.
So, what did you get up to on the press trip?
Besides seeing a few sights in Bangkok and rafting in Kanchanaburi, the trip was all about Muay Thai. We visited (and trained at) Muay Thai schools, saw muay thai demonstrations and went to the premier of the Muay Thai Live Show in Bangkok.
It all sounds incredible! Do you have a highlight?
The absolute highlight of our trip was the 10th World Wai Kru Ceremony. During this ceremony hundreds of Muay Thai fighters from all over the world gather together in Ayutthaya to honour their Muay Thai masters. It’s the annual highlight of the Muay Thai world and I felt absolutely honoured to attend this ceremony. We also met Buakaw during this day, a Muay Thai legend and one of the best fighters in the world.
How did you find the food?
The food was good, but not as good as I had on my previous Thailand trips. During this trip we ate in fancy hotels and restaurants, but I missed the Thai street food!
That’s a shame – Thai food is one of my absolute favourites! Did you have any surprises on your trip?
Well, I was under the impression the trip would be together with a few other journalists and bloggers. I had absolutely no idea the trip would be together with European Muay Thai champions, so you can imagine the look I had on my face when I first walked into our tour bus and saw all those muscled big guys. Obviously, the training sessions were also quite fun: it’s not every day you get to spar with a champion.
Do you have any advice for anyone headed to Thailand?
Muay Thai is the Thai national sport and I would highly recommend to incorporate it on your Thailand trip. You can do so by visiting a match, see the Muay Thai Live Show in Bangkok or (for the die-hards) try a few hours of Muay Thai training. It’s a beautiful, respectful and precise sport with many traditions.
Did you read any new books on your trip?
I didn’t have time to read, but my favourite travel read is Shantaram!
Great tip, that’s still on my to-read list! Finally, what do you love most about travelling?
I love that every day is different and that you meet new people, learn about their lives and hear their stories. For me, travelling is a way to develop myself as a person and to understand the world we live in better.
NB – all images are owned by Manouk