Nepal to Thailand
With no onward flight already organised from Nepal, we visited our favourite travel agent in Pokhara (the very smiley Yadu from Cosmic Travel, who had arranged our trek around Annapurna) to help us secure a flight out of Kathmandu to Bangkok. Research told us that the cheapest flight was with Nepal Airlines, though with various passenger ‘classes’ listed, we didn’t know which ‘class’ we belonged to (…and didn’t really want to find out). Nor could we figure out how to book online. However, Yadu made a phone call and told us to come back in a couple of hours to collect our e-tickets. Ta-da!
Although we had a pinch of concern beforehand relating to whether Nepal Airlines would cancel the flight due to the ongoing fuel crisis, they were good to go, and our flight to Bangkok was brilliant. We soared above the clouds and got a magnificent view of the Himalayas.
Bangkok airport is air-conditioned: an illusion of manufactured comfort. However, walking out of the doors after passport control (stamped with a free 30-day tourist visa) was like opening an oven door in your face. To Khaosan Road: bustling, buzzing and a bit bonkers!
Our days in Bangkok involved a typical tourist walk-around (where Will was my guide as he had seen the sights before – coconut ice-cream was considered a good bargaining tool).
We also visited Lumphini Park: a very relaxed, green escape set in the city. We were impressed with the cycle track around the edge of the park (and the race bikes that whizzed by), and the huge Monitor lizards lounging in the grass. A friendly Thai lady also gave us a quick lesson in common phrases.
Among our many trips to and from bicycle shops, we stumbled upon a brilliant local market where pointing at the pictures was the way to order dishes (not uncommon), and later bought tickets to the Muay Thai boxing at Rajadamnern Stadium.
Thursday night was ‘the big fight’ and we happily sat towards the front in our third-class seats area, with not many others around us. As it got closer to the start of the first fight, the crowd around us got bigger. We were a bit perturbed when a local Thai told us to move. We were a bit hurt. We liked these seats, we got here early and have waited patiently for the fight to begin…and now at the time of it all starting, we were asked to move! After some discussion with him and the other Thai locals around us, we understood that this was the local ‘betting’ area, i.e. that it was going to get very rowdy. With strict law, gambling is only permissible in restricted areas (one of these being where we were sitting), so the locals came here to relish the opportunity. When we got up to leave, the Thai locals looked happy and very relieved. We shuffled our way along to some equally good seats with a lot of space, and a view of the audience we were just a part of: they were already noisy and all standing.
The atmosphere was great. There were 9 fights in total: red corner (we called Ken, supported by me) vs blue corner (Ryu, supported by Will). Each fight was started with a warm-up ritual performed by each boxer.
With 3 complete knockouts, some brutal punches and kicks up to the head, the red corner (backed by me) were victorious. Although we didn’t partake in any of the gambling, it was fun to see the locals standing and gesticulating emphatically: we didn’t have a clue what it meant but made sure we didn’t wave our hands around at the time between the rounds.
Highly impressive, there is something very respectful about the Muay Thai boxing. Especially when, after the ruthless physical attacks and obvious passion during the fighting, the boxers give each other a hug at the end (if they haven’t been stretchered off!).
Posted by Lindsay
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