Last week, I wrote a post called ‘Kicking Banana Trees‘, which described how Master Toddy took me to Petchaburi and unexpectedly had me kick some banana trees down. I found it to be quite an interesting and helpful experience as a whole, and the actual experience of kicking a banana tree wasn’t actually how I expected it to be, but you can read more about that in that post.
Assaulting plants wasn’t the only thing that we got up to on that day. On our way down to Petchaburi, we stopped in Samut Songkham. Master Toddy wanted to show us the salt farm there, and upon arrival, I could see why. It was really beautiful. Not only that, but it was really interesting to see how salt is actually extracted and collected. There were a series of flat, shallow ponds, where sea water was collected and left to evaporate, leaving salt crystals behind, which were then collected in a series of piles across the shore. Just to see them shimmer in the sunlight was quite lovely, but aside from the beauty of the sight itself, but it was fascinating to watch how the salt was harvested. The workers there carried two baskets, connected by a long strip of bamboo across their shoulders, across the muddy terrain to fill them with salt. They then carried it back the same way, walking across a tiny, wooden beam that lead into a warehouse, where they would deposit the salt before repeating the process again.
The salt-farm workers made their job look easy, speedily trotting along while carrying huge baskets of salt across slippery mud. We were happily admiring their work when Master Toddy asked them if Tu, an American fighter from our gym who’d come with us that day, could give it a try. I should point out that Tu had no say in this whatsoever. Of course, the workers were happy to oblige, and were probably eager to see him fall face-first into the mud. With that, Master Toddy told Tu to take his shirt off, gave him a set of baskets, and sent him on his way. Watching his efforts revealed what a difficult task it really was. Getting down to the ponds to collect the salt seemed easy enough, but bringing it back was another task. Having two heavy objects hanging from either shoulder, swinging in opposite directions while attempting to walk on a slippery surface, requires a lot of balance, poise and concentration. As well as that, having to carry them uphill across a thin, wooden beam…well, that’s just silly. Nevertheless, Tu managed it after only a couple of attempts, although not without a few slips and stumbles. I was just thankful that I didn’t have to do it, because we would have been there all day!
After we left the salt farm, we went to a plot of land that Master Toddy owns in Petchaburi, which is where the banana tree kicking ensued. Once that was over and done with, he took me to a nearby lake and informed me that it was time for me to learn how to fish. Fishing is Master Toddy’s favourite pastime, but was not something that I had ever tried myself. Again, this was something that was actually a lot more difficult than it looked (at least for me). The first few attempts involved the fish taking the bait and happily swimming off while I waited unknowingly at the other end of the fishing rod like a complete idiot. Clearly, fishing involved a lot more awareness than I realised. Master Toddy, who was very patient, regardless of my total lack of ability to catch a fish, told me that I had to keep an eye out for the ‘killing time’ and pounce as quickly as possible, without giving the fish any chance to escape. Strangely, it sounded a lot like fighting to me. In past fights, I have struggled with a habit of not recognising or taking advantage of that ‘killing time’ and backing out, letting my opponents recover or get away. I have always known that I have lacked that natural aggression or killer instinct that you’d think would be an essential attribute for a fighter, and have to remind myself to work on developing it. It’s something that I’ve spoken about in recent posts (including this one on my eighth fight and this one, called ‘Does Fighting Change You?‘), and it relates not only to fighting, but my personality in general, although fighting is certainly helping me to work on it. Master Toddy knows this, and perhaps he was testing me with this exercise. Whether that was the case or whether we were just fishing for the sake of fishing, I was quite enjoying it, even though I wasn’t particularly good at it.
Eventually, I did it. I caught my first fish. A catfish, I believe (although, frankly, I know nothing about fish, so it could have been anything). My first reaction was to be a bit sad for the fish, which Master Toddy rolled his eyes at. Clearly, this is not my forte. ‘You can’t feel sad, you are a hunter!‘, he laughed. Still, I was happy to have finally done it, and we let the fish go afterwards. If I had taken advantage of the ‘killing time’ sooner, it wouldn’t have taken me half as long, but that was a lesson learned. That day ended up being a lot more hard work than I had anticipated, but it was also a lot of fun. I learned a lot, and was also reminded of a couple of things about myself, as cheesy as it sounds.
See below for a gallery of pictures (click to enlarge).