Bangkok was crazy. I met up with friends and fellow teachers Phil and Victoria, and Phil’s friend from home Kelly. The very first day we were in Bangkok there was a large street festival outside our hostel. Lots of thai-food, live music, performance artists, and crafts.
At the street festival there were two men acting like roosters in a cockfight. Only underneath the bright silk head-dresses they were wearing heavy mascara and women’s makeup. And the fighting had strong homo-erotic overtones. The men would circle each other, attack each other, then one would start humping the other. They would retreat and then do it again.
We also saw a Muay Thai fight. Muay Thai is the national martial art and it’s a big deal. Muay Thai uses lots of elbow and knees. Phil mentioned that in the 80’s there was a huge mix martial arts competition in Asia with all the major disciplines represented. None could last more than a few minutes with the Muay Thai fighters. Usually profession events are expensive (for volunteer teachers), so we were pretty excited. But our excitement turned to horror when the fighters entered the ring. They were boys not older than 8 or 9. Literally. And they didn’t have special rules for the kids. It’s not like head shots were banned or the kids wore padded helmets like amateur boxers do. No, there kids were going at each other full on, bloody-ing each other up and everything. I’ve been in China for six months and it is radically different from the US, but wow, watching those kids fighting, with the crowd getting rowdy and cheering then on was total culture shock.
We didn’t spend much time in Bangkok. We wanted bright sun and warm water to swim in. We headed south to the island of Koh Pang’an for two weeks.