Thursday, 10 May 2012

Day 47 - Muay Thai (Thailand)

We had the pleasure last night of experiencing a real-life Muay Thai (Thai Boxing) show. We arrived at the advertised start time of 9pm and paid our 400Bhat (AU$13), to find that we were amongst the only half a dozen spectators. We found a jenga set to entertain ourselves with and quickly realised that the point of getting us in an hour early is to wrangle some extra drink sales. Some more spectators arrived and we noticed the disproportionate number of single middle aged white men.
Eventually the fights started and we were surprised that the first fight was between what looked like 10 year olds. The second opponents were probably 15. We hadn't realised that we would be watching children fight, and the cheap skate in us harked up, considering it to be less value for money. And then our upper-middle class educated and oppinionated upbringings came out and we wondered whether it's right for children to be fighting professionally at all. Surely, if nothing else, they may not be able to develop properly, and the risk of long term injury must be much higher than that of a grown up. I wonder how much, if any, of our entry ticket goes to the fighters.

We weren't overly impressed when we found out that we were also expected to pay for the privilege of using the toilets, if you can call them that. Surely our entry ticket could cover the running costs, considering there's nothing like toilet paper or soap provided, and they didn't seem to have huge cleaning costs. Anybody who's ever travelled anywhere has experienced this type of frustration, but that doesn't stop it from irking me.
As the evening progressed we noticed the increase in young Thai females (or dressed as such) paying attention to the single middle aged white men. By the last fight there were very few groups/couples that weren't made up of this demographic. Interestingly enough, all the bars set up around the area were quite openly catering for this strand of tourism.
Perhaps a Muay Thai show would be better in a bigger, or more famous arena. If it was set up for locals who are interested in the sport instead of tourists looking for a cultural experience, I'm sure it would have been quite a different kettle of fish. Having said that we were tourists looking for a cultural experience, and that certainly is what we got.

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