Tour for Thai friend

Trip Start Apr 21, 2005
Trip End May 17, 2005

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Flag of Thailand  , Bangkok,
Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Hello everybody,

I arrived safely in Bangkok, hot and humid as ever.  This time without buying any clothes!

My first day I went to the Lumphini Boxing Stadium for some traditional Thai kick boxing.  Next to me was a Thai American from Chicago who helped explain it.  Knee boxing is more appropriate.  And most anything goes.  We were surprised how young some of the kids looked, about 15 or so.  But they could all take care of themselves.  Matches last five rounds.  In every one, a boxer would inevitably lose balance after a kick and fall flat.  One guy actually knocked himself out on the canvas.  Most of the excitement comes during the last round.  That's when the audience bets the most.  And they love to bet.  A few of the locals came at me.  With all the sports I've watched, I still had no clue who was winning.

I hooked up with Mafeung, a friend I met on my last trip.  She is from a small, remote town but came to Bangkok to see the sights.  I got to be her tour guide.  It's pretty easy when you have someone to speak the language.  She hadn't been there since she was a kid.  Only had vague memories of Thailand's most important cultural sights.  It was a treat to see her eyes light up.  Her appreciation was obviously a lot greater than the other tourists.  She already wants to go back.

Of all the sights here, probably the most significant is the Grand Palace.  The complex is absolutely stunning.  Along the interior walls are murals from the Thai story Ramakian.  Inside there are over 100 buildings, 30 of which are open to the public.  The original residence of the monarch is housed here.  Along with some throne halls that are still used for ceremonies.  The focal point is Wat Phra Kaew, the temple of the Emerald Buddha.  This Buddha is less than 20" tall, but sits on top of a huge gilded mount of gold.  I made two visits and still didn't see everything.  One thing I almost missed was a model of Angkor Wat.  Tucked inside some of the buildings are numerous mini-museums too.

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