Buddhas and boxing

[NOTE: please check out the gallery and videos at the bottom of this post. Too much to squeeze in between the words!] Our first errand today was to pop back to the Vietnamese embassy and collect our passports with their shiny new visas in place. Expensive, but I love Vietnam so I knew they’d be worth every dollar.

More touristy stuff followed as we did the usual run of taking a boat up the river then hopping out at pier 8 to take in the Wat Po and Grand Palace. I won’t go into detail as I’ve covered both these places before. The main point of note was that we were fortunate enough to catch the start of some kind of parade at the Wat Po. Scores of people wearing traditional dress, a marching band and video cameras everywhere. All very impressive and I still have no idea what it was all about .

The Grand Palace has increased its price since I was last there and we did have to borrow leg coverings despite wearing 3/4-length shorts. This involved a refundable deposit so didn’t increase the cost of the visit.

Leah’s wilting in the heat wasn’t helped by the usual annoying morons who try to rip tourists off. I came across a new trick where they try to convince you that you can enter by one of the side gates. The security guards generally don’t speak English and simply bar your entry at which point the con artist apologises and says that the Palace must be closed today… and would you like him to show you a new place instead? The “Golden Buddha” seems to be the new one kicking around that has “just opened”.

I would recommend the following course of action: punch them in the face and walk off. The Palace is open 7 days a week, all year round. If it’s closed for some reason, believe me you’ll know about it as it’ll be in the news and your hostel/hotel will tell you in advance.

Dinner was in a glass-fronted air-conditioned place in the pier 9 building and was very good, though we did get charged for the nice cold towels they supplied when it was obvious that Leah was about to collapse. This is commonplace in some restaurants. And this time we were in time to catch the boat back down to the BTS station.

A quick change of clothes and a shower at the YHA and we made our way to Lumphini Stadium for our ringside Muay Thai tickets. The last time I watched Thai boxing was in Hua Hinh and that was amateur bouts in a tiny little place. This stadium was much bigger though just didn’t have the same atmosphere. The fighting was still entertaining and we had our photograph taken with the boxer who won the main bout. He’d been pulverised until late in the fourth round when he launched a fierce attack on his opponent, slamming a knee into his solar plexus. Ow. Down and out .

An entertaining night, and not too expensive. A quick KFC was called for on the way home to soak up the beer, and I picked up a dodgy copy of Ong Bak on DVD from one of the market stalls. When in Thailand, at least watch one Thai film!

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