Cow Pat Guy and Muay Thai

Today I was pretty much left to my own devices as mein hosts were at work. In fairness, I got up at the same time as them (first time I’d seen 7am for a week) and then started writing up the last few days for this blog.

I walked the dog (who Sharon said would never go for a walk with me until I’d gone with someone else so that Eddie got to know me), tidied up, sorted a ton of backlogged email and caught up on the news. A cyclone? In Oz? Eek.

Later in the afternoon, armed with my trusty Lonely Planet language reference book, I wandered to a local “restaurant” and ordered “khâo phàt kài khráp” (cow pat guy kraa) – chicken fried rice please. The end result was a fantastic plate of food, plus a watery but tasty vegetable soup and iced water. For about 24p.

Seriously, I could live off this. I do need to go back again as I only paid the exact money due to not having enough change to give a tip. And because the food was so good. I’m actually getting peckish writing this!

Once the working people had got home, Lou and I headed off to see the Muay Thai. We got there just in time to nab two seats in the second row (despite my best efforts to misread the blatantly obvious 9pm start time as 9:30pm) and settled in with a free beer. Just the one, as I “lost” the voucher for the other one – it later turned up in my wallet.

What a spectacle it was. I don’t “do” boxing – it’s rather thuggish and basically the biggest, most violent brute wins. It’s all posing, and psyching and ego. Muay Thai is more about skill and respecting your opponent and the sport. This is obvious from the friendly bows, taps of gloves and smiles at the end of every round, not just the fight.

The main surprise was the order of the bouts. Five fights each of five rounds (maximum – a knockout or a retirement would finish a bout early). They started with some fairly young fighters, I’d guess around 14-15. This fight finished with a knockout in the second.

Next bout, the fighters were older and more experienced. Same again with the next and the next.

And then the final round. I’d hazard a guess that the fighters were maybe 8 or 9 years old. But take away their size and concentrate in their ability, strength and determination and you were very much looking at two young fighters – not two kids belting each other. You can’t go crying about children being involved when they’re simply so good at something. They deserve all the respect their hard work earned them and both lasted the full five rounds, with a narrow victory to the one in the blue shorts.

Definitely an intriguing sport full of ritual and something to read more about.