Ringside seats at the Muay Thai

Trip Start Mar 18, 2009
Trip End Jan 12, 2010

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Monday, September 21, 2009

One of our must see's in Thailand for a long time now was Muay Thai (Thai Boxing). There was no better place to see it than in the capital, especially at Lumphini Stadium which is the oldest and most famous of them all.  We decided to catch the sky train the day before (fights are only on Tuesday and Thursday's) to Lumphini park and spend the afternoon there before walking to the stadium to buy some tickets.  The Lonely Planet has plenty of warnings regarding ticket scams so we thought best to head there when its quiet.

A quick trip to a 7-11 to stock up on picnic goodies and we sat in the park by the lake. It was a really sunny day and the sight of sky scrapers peering over the tree line gave this place an almost New York Central Park feel (well that is what Emma said, as I have never been).  As we ate, we watched people jogging by, people on swan pedalo's and plenty of Thai's at work manicuring every inch of the place.

We later took a stroll around the lake and found a weight lifting area full of guys pumped to the max, a clock tower that played a digital recording when it chimed, how did we know that? Well at the end of the last chime it would cut off abruptly.  Our biggest surprise was to find a local population of Monitor Lizards which inhabit the park. Some were quite small and others were well over 1.5 metres in length. This was probably the first time we have seen a local wary of the wildlife, as one lizard clambered out of the lake and invaded a guy's picnic. The lizard enjoyed its spoils and it gave me a chance to take some photos.

A short walk from the park is the stadium. A small ticket booth was open for foreigners and we were greeted warmly by 2 women and about 20 dogs.  The different sitting areas were explained to us, and we opted to buy ringside seats at 2000 Baht each. 2nd and 3rd tickets are where the locals stand and gamble. It could be a unique experience, but we wanted to sit, relax and enjoy the spectacle unfold with a beer in our hands. Plus when would we ever be able to afford ring side seats again. Right tickets purchased, all we had to do was come back tomorrow at 6pm.

Oh I forgot to mention, we spent the morning sitting at the Thai Immigration Office to extend our visa for another 30 days. The beaches are fast approaching and we felt 60 days would be sufficient time to explore them.  The Thai immigration office is quite a walk from Chong Nonsi station and expect a wait when you are in there. The visa is processed on the same day, but a lot of queuing is needed, plus photocopies. At one point I had to leave the queue twice to glue my passport photo on the application and to find a place which would photocopy my departure card. It was worth it in the end, 1900 Baht each and the visa extension was complete.

22nd September

It was fight night and we were very excited. A huge storm was brewing and we made it to the stadium just before it unleashed its full force, which lasted for a good 2 hours.  We were led to the ringside seats and given some goodies.  The first two bouts were traditional boxing, but after that the real matches began.

To explain Muay Thai would be to describe it as a dance. A band plays music, similar to that of snake charming and the boxers slip into a kind of hypnotic trance coiled and ready to pounce. Points are scored if an opponent leaves a mark on the others body and a straight out victory is achieved in the event of a knockout. We only saw one KO throughout the entire night and that was when two teenagers were in the ring and one received an elbow to the head. The fight was quickly over and a stretcher was brought to the ring. A quick check to see if his tongue had been swallowed before lifting him out and that was that.

We took plenty of photos and videos of the action. Hopefully covering all aspects of a bout. The entrance ceremony (with dance and prayer), the pre-fight talk by the trainers, the fighters family screaming encouragement and the actual fight. Enjoy!
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Where I stayed
Udee Bangkok
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