Having been to Bangkok several times, a Google search “cheap and unusual things to do” suggested Muay Thai Boxing at the “Channel 7 TV Stadium”:http://muaythai-world.com/channel-7-stadium-bangkok/. Best of all, it was near the Chatuchak Weekend Market which we planned on visiting, and it was free. Having read a few blogs, we were advised to get there early to get the best seats.
We’d envisaged having difficulty in locating the studio using the map printed from the internet by the hotel, but the 15-minute walk from the market was a doddle. We waited at the entrance with others, until at 12.30pm, we were marshalled into two lines: one for locals and one for farang.
Entering the studio, we were directed to the ‘foreigner stand’ which comprised of 7 tiers of metal benches. These were filled from the top, and as we were near the front of the queue, we were in pole position. This meant we could lean against the wall unlike others, who had our knees in their back. Our stand was full within 30 minutes.
The two-hour wait went quickly. Sponsors, and their advertising boards, were much in evidence and at one point, two slim girls wearing gold sequinned mini dresses popped out, had their photograph taken, but were never seen again. By 2.30pm the stadium was packed to the gills with standing room only for latecomers. A screen on the opposite wall showed us what was being televised live.
The boxers entered the ring, and their respective red and blue corners, sporting gloves, headbands, armbands and ankle supports. Before the match began they paraded around the ring, constantly bowing, before sinking to their knees in prayer.
The programme consisted of four bouts starting with the lighter boxers with each bout having five, three-minute rounds. The first two rounds were deliberately low key to encourage betting before the fighting and noise increases.
Thai boxing involves eight body parts with kicks. In the first bout, the blue boy only made it to round three before being knocked out and stretchered off, whilst in the second, the red boxer had a bloody face after round two but hung on until the end before losing on a judges’ decision.
There was so much going on: the betting with its unusual hand signals, the supporters in the seconds’ area vigorously encouraging their man on and the excitement of the Thais. To add to the din, three musicians, resplendent in gold jackets, produced an encouraging beat.
After the four bouts, we thought it was all over, but then the youngsters started. Having watched the first bout, which consisted of only three rounds, we climbed carefully down the tiers, whilst others who’d not had such good seats, eagerly made their way up.
It was a brilliant way to experience this Thai institution and was well worth the uncomfortable seats.
Later in our trip, we watched the boxing live on TV on a Sunday afternoon at 2pm.