Dodging Potholes and Fists

Trip Start Feb 06, 2010
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14
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Trip End Mar 01, 2010


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Where I stayed
Kaw Kwang Guesthouse

Flag of Thailand  , Krabi,
Friday, February 26, 2010

After spending a bundle of bahts everyday on tuk tuks we finally decided to get ourselves a rental scooter and with Rob expertly dodging potholes we zoomed off down the island coastline.

Traffic drives on the left side in Thailand but to pass a vehicle all you need is a warning "beep, beep" and the space to squeeze by on either side. Often traffic is three or four wide on a two lane road. I could tell Rob liked this zipping in and out, get outta my way style of driving as he took to it like a tourist to sunburn.

We discovered a tiny beachside restaurant down a secluded dusty path and we sat enjoying the surf crashing up on the desterted rocky beach and watching the sail boats go by. The owner, an old wisened Thai man whipped us up a tasty stir fry and served us up ice cold Chang beers.

Next stop: Klampa Klum Beach Bar for more beers and a refreshing salt water gulping game of frisbee with Uli and Woodstock. Lotsa waves, lotsa beers and lotsa fun. We made plans to spend our final night on the island taking in the Thai Boxing matches.

Back at our bungalow the plan was to shower and rest up for the evening but instead we met a group of fun people from Cornwall, England. They had holidayed here 15 years ago with all their small children and were now back for a childless reunion party. They liked Thai rum, hot, hot sun and laughing a lot.

So, when it was time to head to the boxing match we were much to inebriated to make use of our scooter and had to resort back to tuk tuk mode of transport! We met up with Uli and Woodstock who handed us yet another beer and for 800 baht each we made our way to the stands to watch the matches.

The first fight, surprisingly, is two small boys about nine years old. They only fight for three rounds but their legs and knees slash out in knife like rapid kicks and jabs and their fists fly in a blur of vicious blows. Strangely, they smile as they batter each other.

With each new match the boxers age category climbs as does the size of the crowd and the level of excitement. It's five rounds per fight now. The kicks are harder. The punches more powerful. There is blood.

Thai boxing must have no weight class distinction because one fighter will out weigh another by thirty pounds or more. Rob and I are betting 100 baht per fight and I choose the heavy weight for the win. The women seem specially vicious as they fiercely attack. They smile and beat the hell out of each other. Rob smiles because I owe him another 100 baht.

The Thai's side of the stadium continues to get more crowded. Tourists still arrive too. Paying the highly inflated "farang" prices they join us in the "tourist" seats. Although illegal, it is obvious that on the Thai ringside area wagers are being placed and money is rapidly changing hands. The bettors become more excited with each fight. Like the sweltering temperatures, the stakes must be rising higher.

There is one old man sitting in the ringside gambling area. He is very old and thin. While others stand and cheer with arms raised in the air he remains seated, his head darting around the bodies in front so he can catch glimpses of the fight. His smile is stretched into a wide grin and while it is nearly empty of teeth it is full to bursting with pure joy. It makes me feel his happiness when I look at him. My gaze is continually drawn away from the fighting to watch his smiling face. I smile too and cheer.

The fighter's leg muscles are tightly coiled and they vibrate as they dance lightly on the mat feinting kicks at their opponent. They stare into each other's eyes. I watch their legs. You can practically see the rising tension in their quivering thighs. Simultaneously they explode and the crowd roars. The fighters kick, box, knee and pummel each other - always smiling.

Thai boxing is a hugely popular sport in Thailand and the Thai people are very proud of it, much like Canadians and our hockey. I have totally enjoyed the excitement of the evening. It's been fun. We have big hugs round in case we do not see Uli and Woodstock in the morning. We leave for Trang tomorrow. We wade through a see of scooters to find a tuk tuk that will kindly charge us double of what it cost us to get here. Rob is firm and we pay half price but in the end the driver leaves us with a large tip for serenading us with his happy singing on the drive back to our bungalow. Sigh, our time in Koh Lanta is over.





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