We’re back in Korea and back to the grind. It’s the first day of the spring semester. Unfortunately, it doesn’t much feel like spring. I’m still dreaming of the warm weather, tropical fruit, green spaces and the impressive architecture of Bangkok, Thailand. We did too damn much while we were there to cover it all, but here are the highlights (and some suggestions if you find your way to this cosmopolitan Asian city):
Our first night in Bangkok, Chickpea and I decided to check out infamous Khao San Road. For those of you who didn’t see “The Beach,” Khao San Road is the main hub of backpackers and young tourists in Bangkok. Not surprisingly, this has also made it the epicenter of Thai kitsch and a kind-of counter culture-themed tourist trap. Fortune tellers, palm readers, beggars, scammers, tattoo artists, and a diaspora of people hawking college humor T-shirts, hippie accouterments and roasted scorpions, line every inch of this 4-block-long road.
Luckily, we escaped to a little mall hosting, of all things, a breakdancing tournament. Dozens of Thai b-boy bands battled each other for dance supremacy. Here’s a video montage of some of the best performances:
Experiencing a Muay Thai fight is one of the must-dos when visiting Bangkok. Muay Thai is called the “Art of Eight Limbs” and limbs were certainly flying in this shortened series of matches at Ratchadamnoen Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand. This video also features the traditional Wai Kru pre-fight dance, something you won’t find at a MMA event.
A few tips if you want to catch a boxing match in Bangkok:
1) Buy your tickets from the ticket booth. The Muay Thai fights are one of the more expensive entertainment options in Bangkok. We paid the equivalent of $30US a ticket for seats on a concrete slab behind a fence. The better seats can go up to $60US. So don’t take chances. Ignore the ladies in red or green vests in front of the building; they may look official, but they’re not.
2) Bring some snacks and beer. A series of matches typically run about 3-4 hours, and sometimes consists of lots of yelling, so you’re bound to get hungry and/or thirsty. Not surprisingly, the small concessions stand at the stadium is overpriced and not conveniently located near the cheap seats. But you are allowed to bring in outside snacks and drinks.
3) Don’t talk too much smack. The vast majority of Muay Thai fighters are teenagers and often weigh under 120 lbs. They look a little laughably skinny to be boxing, but don’t be mistaken: They are pure muscle. The last match I saw pit a white guy from the U.S. against a younger, skinnier Thai. The match lasted about 20 seconds, with the U.S. fighter knocked out cold.