Dynargh dhe'n Blogofrob

Sunday 19th September 2004

I arrived back in Thailand this afternoon, for a one night stop-over. Despite my short time here, I wanted to be sure that my stay wasn't solely defined by the bland walls of a hotel. I wondered what a young man on his own could possibly do with a spare evening in Bangkok. Despite the suggestions of the pimps prowling Sukhumvit Road, I decided to seek out some Thai kick boxing.

I recognised Ratchadamnoen Stadium as the same place Tom, Al and I had visited in 1997. The fighting seemed more violent than I remembered, a flurry of flying feet, lunging gloved fists, brightly coloured shorts and falling bodies, played out to a jangling beat performed by musicians in the stands and pulsing out of the p.a. system. At the start of each bout the boxers appeared in the ring, decked out in cloaks, simple head-dresses and tassels. They prostrated themselves at the four corners before the bell rang and the action began. The boxers kicked, kneed and punched each other, the smacking of flesh audible from my ring-side seat. The Thai crowd exploded in excitement and incomprehensible hand gestures, which I took to be signals to lay bets. At the end of a round, the coaches animatedly bellowed at their breathless fighters, who tried to listen in between being liberally covered in water. After each fight the umpire collected scores from the judges and proclaimed a winner - the boxers then retired to the back of the stadium, where keen punters had their photos taken with them. It was a fun way to spend the evening, although a peanut toting midget in a bowler hat was nowhere to be seen. It goes without saying that I can't appreciate the niceties of the sport - I don't even know the rules. Nonetheless, if anyone knows where I can't get a DVD of Ong-Bak with English subtitles I'd be much obliged.

As for Phnom Penh, I spent my last couple of days seeing sights with less of the dark impact than those of Thursday. Highlights on Friday included the National Museum, which contains some exquisite Angkor-period art, and watching an elephant pick its way across the busy riverfront road. That evening I decided to pay a visit to the infamous Happy Herb's pizza, where I ate a tasty 'happy' pizza. I slept very well that night, and was still feeling the effects of the pizza the next morning. I sat brooding at breakfast...why was that man staring at me? Does he know something I don't? What was I getting worried about again?

I had recovered enough by lunchtime to enjoy a frog based meal by the river, after which I headed for Wat Phnom, a faded wat on a small hill, the slopes of which are populated by scampering monkeys. This is also the case with the grounds of the Royal Palace, residence of the professional survivor, King Norodom Sihanouk. I watched as a monkey took command of a drinks stall, chasing away the tourists and the owner of the stall, who shouted in dismay as the monkey began to eat her abandoned paper-work and topple over crates of bottles, in the process of trying to break into one. Marauding primates aside, the Royal Palace is a celebration of opulence characterised by diamonds and ornate sweeping roofs, the centrepiece being the Silver Pagoda, the floor of which is covered with thousands of silver tiles.

Exiting the palace I ran into Nik, a tuk-tuk driver. I asked him to take me somewhere slightly off the beaten track. The tuk-tuk chugged over the Japanese bridge into a dusty suburb of the city. We stopped at what looked like a regular run-down roadside drinks outlet and my heart sank with the familiar fear that I had been victim of a scam. I wondered if Nik had simply taken me to a random restaurant where he would get commission from the owners for my custom. But, I was led through the shack to the back, where decking extended on stilts into a large lake. In hammocked alcoves along the deck Cambodians sat around drinking and eating. We sat on hammocks at the end of the decking and chatted over an Angkor beer (me) and a coconut (Nik). As we talked, the sun set in a haze of pink clouds behind the palm trees on the other side of the water.

64 - posted at 15:33:53
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Comments

Two questions:
1. Did you see a midget with a gun at the kickboxing?
2. While on your travels have you made any use of your RogerMoore leisure suit?


1: MJ (SE12 ) - 15:13:17 on Monday 20th September 2004 (permalink)

As I mentioned "a peanut toting midget in a bowler hat was nowhere to be seen". There wasn't one with a gun either.

Safari leisure suit bearing up well, although the elbows are getting a bit worn, so I may have to sew some suede patches on them.

2: Rob (Beijing) - 13:39:40 on Tuesday 21st September 2004 (permalink)
www.pastemagazine.org/rob

I've lived here in Bangkok for ten years now, but I've never even been to a Muay Thai fight. I think I'm going to remedy that and get my butt on over to Ratchadamnoen Stadium soon!

3: lynn (Bangkok, Thailand) - 19:58:53 on Monday 25th October 2004 (permalink)
xanga.com/BkksouL

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