One Night in Bangkok, Thailand

[ 0 ] July 24, 2012 |

Getting from Koh Phi Phi to Bangkok was not exactly easy in the first place. (1) Long tail boat ride from Relax Beach to Koh Phi Phi pier; (2) two hour ferry ride from Koh Phi Phi to Krabi; (3) taxi ride from Krabi pier to Krabi airport; (4) flight from Krabi to Bangkok; (5) skytrain from Bangkok airport to metro; (6) and finally a taxi from the metro stop to our hotel. A total of 6 different transportation modes; I think that might be a record even for us.

Having already seen the cultural and historical sights of old town Bangkok, we decided to find a hotel in the heart of the new city and experience all that this modern Asian metropolis had to offer. With our adventures waning and knowing that this was going to be our last night together before JB had to leave us, we decided we needed to go out with a little bit of a bang.

By the time we arrived in Bangkok and settled in, it was evening. Breaking out finest duds (jeans – woohoo), we made ourselves presentable and were ready for a night on the town. First stop – Muay Thai Boxing!

Muay Thai boxing is Thailand national pastime sport. It’s like kickboxing in that, in addition to punching, you can also use your legs to kick your opponent. However, known as the “Art of Eight Limbs”, in Muay Thai you are also allowed to knee and elbow your way to victory. It’s such an effectively brutal form of fighting that the majority of MMA professional fights (UFC Ultimate Fighting) are dually trained in Brazilian Jui-Jitsu and Muay Thai styles of fighting.

There are two major Muay Thai boxing venues in town – Ratchadamnoen Boxing Stadium and Lumpini Boxing Stadium.  Lumpini being the larger and closer venue for us made the choice easy. Friday and Saturaday night are when the major Muay Thai boxing matched go down. Lucky for us, it was Saturday. Since the event was scheduled to begin at 8:15pm, when we arrived around 8:30 that night we thought we might have trouble finding a decent seat. To our surprise the venue was only half full and for $60USD we found ourselves sitting in some prime ringside seats. Little did we know that there were 10 matches that night.

The funny thing about Muay Thai is that there is no way to tell how long the matches will last. We saw a few that night that were over in literally the first 30 seconds of the first round due to a violent knock out elbow or knee the face. However, the vast majority (7 of the 10 matches) were decision fights lasting all five rounds. Another interesting fact is that over half of the fights are generally young amateurs. And when I say young, I mean YOUNG. In fact, the first five or so fights that night were between kids 13 years old or younger. It is apparently apart of their training to systematically compete in these types of national events.

Young Muay Thai Fighters

The headline fight, the 10th and last fight of the night, was an epic battle between a Frenchman and Singaporean fighter. After sitting through the first seven or eight fights, the venue finally started to fill up in anticipation of the main event. The fight began calmly with both fighters testing the other to get a sense of their strengths, weaknesses, and fighting styles. The first few rounds when by fairly quickly with a limited amount of action. It was a lot of holds with several knees to the abdomen and a few punches connecting here and there. Half way through the fight, things got interesting. Frustration was clearly evident on both fighters’ faces. Defense was exchanged for cavalier offense. Before we knew it, all form and trepidation was gone as both fighters went after each other with the zeal of an Olympic athlete. Both fighters traded blows back and forth. No one could tell who was ahead or even hurting more. Blood was oozing from the foreheads and cheekbones of both contenders. And just as the seventh round was about to end, just as both fighters where breaking from a hold on the side of the ring, the Frenchman delivered an un anticipated and lighting fast elbow to the temple of the Singaporean. Out cold. It all happened so fast I didn’t even realize what happened at first. What I thought looked like a quick shove turned out to be a deadly elbow. It was almost anticlimactic. Nonetheless, it was clear in this moment just how deadly and effective some of the more lethal Muay Thai moves can really be.

With the fight over, the three of us made our way “backstage” to check out the fighters as they exited the ring. Certainly nothing like what I have previously experienced state side before, you can walk right up to the fighters to talk with them, congratulate them, take photos with them, basically anything you like. Inevitably we had to get some photos with the winning fighter.

JB and Pat with Winning Fighter – “The Frenchman”

Alison, noticing that most of the younger fighters waiting around were being completely eclipsed by the older and larger fighters, asked the youngest plumpest fighter if she could take a photo with him. I couldn’t tell if he was in shock, in love, or about to pee his pants. Either way, he clumsily and shyly posed with Alison to give us this amazing photo.

Al Posing With Young Fighter

Having seen our fill of feather weight guys punch, elbow, and knee their way through a total of 50 combined rounds of Muay Thai boxing, we decided we needed to fill up our tanks before continuing on in our adventures. We hopped in a cab and headed for Bangkok’s happening nighttime district. Full of people swarming in and out of an endless number of bars, restaurants, and clubs, we were a bit overwhelmed with choice. Dying of hunger, we settled on the easiest, most accessible, and authentic cuisine we could find – Street Food. Not thinking about the hygiene nor the freshness of the food, we dug in thoroughly enjoying our dimly light street fare.

Street Food Stall

Our Street Food Diner

Bellies full, our next stop was Bangkok’s night scene. While most of you know that Al and I are not big club people, it was a big night and we were determined to celebrate the amazing time we had had with JB that was shortly coming to an end. JB had read about a dance club named Bed Supper Club. It seemed like as good a choice as anything else so we started heading in that direction.

Bed Supper Club

A 10 min. walk later we arrived at Bed Supper Club. We walked up toward the bouncer, showed him our IDs, and were about to walk through the door when all of a sudden he put his hand on JBs chest, looked down at the flip flops on his feet, and shook his head no. Little did we know that you have to have closed tow shoes to enter. A bit bummed, we turned around and started walking down the street in silence as we tried to figure out what to do next. JB, the ever optimist, said, “I’ll just buy some shoes.” Are you serious? I know this is Bangkok but need I remind you that it is MIDNIGHT! I thought to myself, “fat chance.”

After 15 minutes or so and asking several people with no luck, I was about to strong arm JB into giving up hope. JB convinced us not to give up hope quite yet as we strolled into a tailor shop, one of the few shops open on the street we were on. Opening the door to the shop we were greeted by three middle-eastern 50 something’s. They seemed nice enough so JB when into his spiel about needing to find shoes. Without saying a word, the owner of the store walked to the back of his store, through a door and was out of sight. The three of looked at each other, not really knowing what was going to happen next. Was he upset? Going to try and sell us something? The owner then emerged with his own pair of shoes in hand insisting that we take them.

Trying on the Shoes

Fits Like a Glove – Ready to Dance

What? Completely shocked and blown away, JB initially waived off the gesture saying it was too kind – he didn’t have to do that. After further insisting that we take the shoes, JB humbly accepted the gift and gave the storeowner a traditional Thai wai, pressing his palms together with a slight bow – a sign of thanks and respect.

Thanking Shop Owner With a Wai Bow

We left the tailor shop with a renewed sense of faith in the kindness of strangers. Stunned we walked back to Bed Supper Club where they promptly allowed us in. Taking the preceding serendipitous moment as an omen, we danced until the wee hours in the morning thoroughly enjoying our final remaining hours together.

JB Finds a Friend in Bangkok

It was a night for the ages and the perfect message to end what was an epic and memorable trip with one of my favorite people in this world. Thank you Justin for sharing your scarce vacation days with us and making the past two weeks a highlight of our entire trip thus far.

The Magic Shoes

 

 

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Category: Blog, Destinations, Pat's Blog, Thailand

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