Muay Thai Boxing
Trip Start Feb 18, 2010
93Trip End Ongoing
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We met this really cool couple from London while sitting my the pool eating our morning pomelo. Sam and Liz have been traveling since January and shared with us their adventures in Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and Malaysia.
(Check their blog: www.offexploring.com/lizandsam)
We talked with them for a while, and realized that while we were both speaking English, we weren't really speaking a common language. We spent a lot of time laughing about the different words in British English and American English.
(Torch, rubbish, queue, uni, breezeblock, crackers, biscuit, bum pack, rucksack, anti-clockwise, loo roll, fag, knickers, bugger, wanker, lorry, quid, telly, jumper)
Anyway, Sam used to be into kickboxing and we all decided it would be a fun night out for Jon and Liz's birthday weekends to go see the Muay Thai Kickboxing. We got on our motorbikes and just had to stop at the flea market at the Buddhist Temple on the way to sample some Thai Fair Food! It's pretty much what you would expect, fried chicken, spicy noodles, fried dough, pigs in a blanket (sort of), and fried bugs. Yes you heard right, spicy fried grasshoppers, crickets, very large maggots, and cockroaches! Of course you know who had to try it right? While Jon sampled each one (except the cockroach, I wouldn't let him have), Sam, Liz and I looked on with disgust and fascination while we snapped pictures. I happened to get a video of the cricket feast which unfortunately didn't capture they full body shudder the maggot provoked. Enjoy!!
We went to the night market in Thongsala for some Thai curry and fried prawns. Liz enjoyed a homemade "jam" doughnut (it's jelly!) for dessert.
Finally it was time for the Thai Boxing to begin. Since Ko Phagnan is a fairly touristy island, there were a few Western guys training at this particular stadium. (We saw a white guy running along the side of the road at high noon, with a rope tied to his waist dragging a truck tire behind him. Yeah, Thai boxer). They were all set to fight against boxers from Thailand, and we couldn't wait to see what would happen. For those of you who don't know, as I didn't, "Muay Thai" is pretty intense. It makes boxers look like pansies and it's Thailand's national sport. (In ancient times the boxer's hands were coated in glass, and the fight was to the death. Some say this combination of boxing and martial arts has been going on for two thousand years)
It is extremely barbaric (although I still prefer it to cockfighting, now a major cause of debate between Jon and I) and pretty much the only rules are no biting or eye-gauging. They do wear boxing gloves and the trainers tape up their wrists before putting the gloves on. They also rub
an obscene amount of Tiger Balm all over the boxer's body, so much so that we can smell it in the bleachers. (Talk about performance enhancing, that stuff makes your eyes pop!) There are 5 rounds that are 3 minutes each with a short break between each round. Before they start the fight, each boxer walks to the four corners of the ring to bow and say a prayer. Then they commence on doing a dance that involves lunging, kneeling, marching around, putting the fists in the air, all to this bagpipe sounding music. This same music is played through each round and the boxers sort of bob in time with it. They kick, punch, jab, elbow, knee, sweep the feet, and whatever else they need to do to beat the opponent.
The farang (foreign) boxers actually did really well! I guess if you study Thai Boxing in Thailand you're pretty serious. All the boxers are in great shape, but the western guys have some serious upper-body strength advantages. We saw a crazy knockout when a farang threw his elbow into the soft part of the Thai's skull. He dropped like a log and was out cold for 2 minutes. We even watched an American guy win a fight with some elbows to the back of the head and 2 knees to the face!! (check the video)
But seeing two Thai's fight each other was the best. They are super fast with really strong kicks and they know how take a hit!! We saw a couple of martial arts moves like a roundhouse sweeping leg kick, and a jumping spin kick. Pretty crazy.
We enjoyed it so much we went to another stadium 2 nights later. It was the head trainer's birthday so he bought Jon a beer and invited everyone to stay after the fight (and gave everyone a free beer voucher) for a party. The funniest thing was at some point during the party the trainer starts scolding one of the boxers for peeing in the bushes, he shakes his head and points to the toilet. Like peeing outside is SUCH a barbaric thing to do, but Thai boxing is totally civilized! We thought that was pretty funny.