I love the gym at night. As it the sun goes down the space beneath the tin roof starts to darken at the farthest reaches first, slowly being swallowed up to to the side with no wall. The fluorescent bulbs blink on and cast a strange glow around, bouncing off the large mirror in the front end of the gym.
There is also a change-over as it the light outside starts to dim. Most of the westerners training at the gym have already disappeared and a small cast of Thai teenagers take over, some kicking the bags, some lifting weights or doing decline situps, and most of the time they are chatting at a quiet but joyful volume.
Just before it gets dark, a Tuk-Tuk driver pulls up, his engine roaring up the driveway and parking just outside the gate to the house. He steps out and says hello to the trainers while the dogs tear out of the gate and greet him with tails wagging and bodies wiggling all over. He gives them love and then smooths his hair back before going up to the house – every time. If it rains, he reappears from the house and moves his Tuk-Tuk under the roof of the gym, onto the floor where shadowboxers watch themselves in the mirror.
At this time I’m usually the only westerner still training at the gym. After I’ve finished my conditioning I hop in the ring with my husband with shinpads, gloves and a belly-pad on him to drill blocks, counter kicks and teeps. The past two days a young girl who lives in the apartments that share a yard with the gym has sat on the edge of the ring to watch me, fixated and focused. I wonder if she knows my husband is wearing a pad (he covers it with a second shirt to keep the straps in place), as she seems quite delighted every time I land a kick into his ribs. A dog or two will leap into the ring and roll around on the canvas, totally disinterested in the commotion of our drills. It’s as much their ring as it is ours, I guess. It wouldn’t feel like a Thai camp otherwise.