Bangkok Muay Thai Night

I’m not sure whose idea it was exactly, but someone decided we should go see some fights while we were here and I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. In my imagination, Muay Thai / kickboxing was a grimey, dirt floor, sweaty, bloody, Jean-Claude van Damme type affair. This was something else all together!

We found ourselves at a small modern stadium outfitted with a state of the art sound systems and big screens with professional videographers capturing the entire event. It was loud and glitzy and suitable for American television and nothing like the traditional fight environment that I had pictured. We had ringside seats and there were fighters from all over the world – Canada, Finland, Norway, Australia and of course plenty of locals. There were plenty of people coming around selling drinks and food (overpriced for Thailand but great prices once you factor in the exchange rates, and the guys wasted no time in double parking their beers.

But first… we were to please stand for the Royal Anthem of Thailand; for the first time ever, I discovered Australia doesn’t have the most mournful dirge of a national anthem.

Yes… I’m here with a large group of guys all wearing matching t-shirts. You’d swear we are on a cruise tour or something. 😉

Each fight started with an introduction and an attempt to hype up the crowd… “‘”In the Red Corner is some guy whose name we can’t pronounce and won’t remember! In the Blue Corner is a guy in blue shorts who will do a little dance in a moment! Give it up radies and gentlremen!!!”

It was weird. But there was indeed, dancing. There is obviously a wildly different focus on the spiritual and ritual aspects of this particular cultural phenomenon as all the fighters who entered the ring in the blue shorts (all attached to a specific training school/style/protocol from what I gather) did an extended dance to the spirits before their fights. Their opponents in the gold shorts (Red Corner) were from a different philosophy which seemed to be a bit more ‘Hulk smash’ and a bit less ‘praise Buddha’.

Some of these guys had amazing tattoos – we are pretty sure we saw one dude with a thigh sized Hello Kitty! LOL.

The dance they performed involved a fair bit of hammering the ground, before visiting every corner of the ring and bowing, as well as some hand waving and light prancing? I don’t know what you’d call it – it wasn’t vigorous like a Māori war dance, and it wasn’t ballet… probably more interpretive dance of some sort.

Then the fighting began and they tried to knock each other out. The first round was two small guys of barely 110lbs and they seemed quite evenly matched, but the fear in one of their eyes when he saw his opponent take the mat gave the immediate impression that his head game was blown and the other guy was going to win – and that’s exactly what happened. Poor fearful looking guy was knocked out and they had to help him out of the ring… by hanging onto the back of his shorts so he didn’t fall down the steps!

Most of the rounds seemed fairly evenly matched and the tournament moved at a fairly brisk space with some interruptions for Kiss-cam and a Chug-Cam moments… they put a guy in a tux on the big screen skolling his beer and then the camera swung around the crowd to people encouraging them to down their drinks. The ‘drink responsibly’ bit of the alcohol service provisions are possibly non-existent here?

The guy in the gold shorts above was Australian George – we looked him up, he’s from Sunnybank in Brisbane! He was pretty good and won his match handily. Long way to come to see someone from around the corner. Then (below) was this Finnish guy who had a Dolph Lungren ‘killer’ look about him fighting this local dude and the Finnish guy was really good.

Towards the end of the rounds, someone finally ended up a bit bloody, but again this whole thing was no where near as grimey and bloody as I was expecting – it was super sanitised for TV and tourists, I guess.

Towards the end of the evening there was the obligatory throwing t-shirts to the crowd moment and the presenter threw one square at my face – probably because I was the only one in white blouse in a crowd of guys wearing black t-shirts… I managed to defend myself, and Yale caught the shirt, but like the kind hearted sweetheart he is, he gave it to this cool kid who was near us who had been dancing around in a sparkly sequinned Pikachu shirt all night. The kid was super excited with his new acquisition – totally worth it.

After the matches, it seems the Red Corner and the Gold Shorts had won the day and we decided to all head back to the hotel. This is where the transport fun began! It was crazy outside. Cabs everywhere no one wanting to take anyone on a metered ride. We eventually decided to jump a cab and pay their exorbitant 300BHT price to get back to the hotel… and as soon as we head off down the street, we could see many others in the group had decided to jump in tuk tuks for the trip and were goading their drivers on to beat the others back! They were offering them more and more money to overtake their friends. I’m not so sure tuk tuk racing through he streets of Bangkok while drunk as a skunk is a good plan – but there you have it! It was madhouse… as soon as our cabbie figured out we knew everyone in the tuk tuks, he decided to join in as well and we drove at breakneck speed back to the hotel.

Thankfully everyone arrived back safely – no idea who ‘won’ the race or whether the drivers got their promised bonuses, but we all stumbled down to Jack’s Bar (near the hotel) for some more drinks and snacks. Eventually made it to bed around 11:30pm which was a good plan as we all have to work the following day.