Hi friends! As I mentioned before, we closed the loop in Bangkok before flying out to Myanmar. We were initially planning to return to Bangkok, head to southern Thai beaches for a few days, and then fly onward to Yangon. However, after looking into it, we decided we would save the beaches for another time when we are not on a budget. We would want to go scuba diving, maybe try kite surfing, or even a yoga retreat, all of which aren’t cheap. All that said, we did spend a couple of days in Bangkok and were able to try a couple of new things that we missed the first time around before flying out for good.
After 12 hours of travel including 4 bus transfers and a 3 hour immigration wait at the Thai border, we finally made it to Bangkok from Battambang, Cambodia. We checked into our hostel, which was conveniently walking distance from Rajadamnoen Stadium, one of the popular Muay Thai arenas in the city.
The next day, we went and got Thai massages, which was a first for both of us. I have never been a big massage person, but that may change as I get older. They not only massaged you, but stretched you as well. Some body parts were actually painful while others felt nice. Hoch recalled the pain of his best friend from high school (Davis) punching him in the thighs as a joke and said it felt like that for the 20 minutes that they were massaging his legs. I guess the male masseuse are rougher than the females.
After the massages, we relaxed, pre-gamed, and grabbed an early dinner before walking to the Muay Thai stadium. We had purchased the tickets a few days in advance and decided go big or go home and went with the most expensive ring seats. Well when we arrived, we saw that we were the last 2 seats in the first row! We also had a server that took our drink orders.
There were 9 fights that night, each one lasting 5 rounds of 3 minutes each. The smallest weight class was 88lbs (tiny!) and the largest was 131 lbs (still small!). Definitely makes you think twice about whether or not a skinny Thai local can kick your ass or not. Looks are very deceiving when it comes to this sport! Those guys are small, but all muscle. I am sure with regular clothes on, they look like ordinary guys.
Each fight starts with a pre-fight ritual in which the fighters do a little dance. You’ll have to watch the video to see what I mean. And the same music is played all night during the fights. It almost feels like you’re watching some sort of dance leading up to the first punches/kicks since there is a Muay Thai bounce that is part of the form. We saw 2 knockouts, for one of which the guy was completely out. The remaining fights went all 5 rounds and the winner was decided by 3 independent judges. The crowd would go crazy yelling and you could see all the betting going on around us as each fight played out.
Even if fighting isn’t your thing (and it really isn’t mine), it is something you should try to see at least once while in Bangkok. Having tried a Muay Thai workout class in Pai and knowing how hard it really is, I definitely have a lot more respect for the fighters. Sometimes I felt bad for the younger fighters, but overall I enjoyed seeing the sport and am glad we made the time to fit it in our second time around!
Until next post!
-We stayed at a nice quiet hostel across a canal from the insane Khao San party area this time around and liked it a lot. Kimberly and I both are certainly more experienced travelers and maybe a bit jaded by the backpacker scene compared to when we first landed in Bangkok. There is so much more outside of the well-trodden paths that are more rewarding and more in line with what we want out of this trip.
-I really wanted to bet on some of the fights but it’s not an option for the farang or foreigners, apparently. They’re clearly scared I’ll win all the money with my unmatched Muay Thai acumen.
-We walked back to the hostel from the fight around 11pm. Even though it was only 15 minutes, it is not something we would have considered doing our first time in Bangkok. I don’t think we are being careless; I just really think as long as you stay aware of your surroundings and not walk into a dark alley with dubious characters lurking, you’ll be fine in any major city. I should add that beers were relatively cheap at the fight and I don’t remember half the walk back.