It was a very fun day for me yesterday. I set out to Lumpinee stadium to watch Muay Thai kickboxing. But before that, I had time to check out the supposedly best khao mun kai (chicken rice) in the city. The shop was called Kaiton and I had some trouble locating it. I walked up and down an entire street of foodstalls but none had English names written anywhere. Finally, I decided the biggest chicken stall would have to be Kaiton. I was right.

Here’s my detailed review of Kaiton chicken rice. Cheap and delicious!

Probably I should try out the satay too. I’m not too sure whether they call it satay, but it sure looks like the one in Singapore. Sticks of meat grilled over a fire and served with a bowl of sauce. I really gotta try it out to see the difference.

On the way to the BTS station, I had to walk a rather long distance and cut cross some heavy traffic. The tall tower in the background is Baiyoke tower 2, a very handsome structure which I can see from my balcony. They have a Baiyoke tower 1 too but it’s rather nondescript.

There were many people peddling their wares on the pedestrian walk, although nothing really caught my interest. But at least the sight is not often seen in Singapore.
I have to say those fat orange prawns looked really tempting.

I got myself a iced green tea from this stall.

At another stall, there was even someone selling laptops! I didn’t check out the price though.

This stall had very beautifully taken pictures in vivid colours of sights around Bangkok. I wonder if they really took those pictures themselves, because they sure looked like they came right out of a tourist guidebook.

Handicraft motorcycles made from scratch to every detail.

Everytime when I’m on my way to and from the BTS station, I would pass by this building which is a little hidden from view. I had to walk some way in to get this picture. It’s a really old-looking bungalow and looks totally deserted. Even at night, the lights would still not be on, and the whole building looks really haunted. If not for the cars, I would think nobody lives there at all.

To get to Lumpinee stadium where the match was held, I had to take the skytrain from the BTS station, then walk quite a distance to the MRT station to take the MRT. These are two different lines altogether, and the BTS line was only finished in the very recent years.

At the MRT station, I got a little confused when I was buying my ticket. I slot in my coins and waited for a ticket to come out. Instead, what came out was this:

No that’s not a giant mole on my palm. It’s a black token that they use as a ticket! In fact I didn’t even notice it coming out from the machine at first. To use it, we just hold it against the sensor at the gates, the same way we use ez-link cards.

When I got to Lumpinee MRT station, I scoured the map there to locate Lumpinee stadium. Then I heard someone who kept saying “yo! Yo!” which I ignored at first since I didn’t think he was calling me. But he actually was and he asked if I was going to the stadium. He was going the same way so we walked along together. Along the way he showed me his pass and I realised he was actually someone from the press, sent to do a cover on the match! He was a reporter specialising in Muay Thai kickboxing matches too; I actually saw the words “Muay Thai” and “press” written on his pass. To have a whole section in the newspapers dedicated solely to Muay Thai, the Thais must really hold this sport in high esteem, and the best fighters with great respect.

At the stadium, we parted our ways. I went up to the counter to get my ticket. They actually have separate counters for Thais and foreigners, which means foreigners pay much more for the tickets. It would be 1500, 800 and 400 for first, second, and third class tickets respectively. For first class, you get seats alongside the ring. For second and third class, you stand along the steps further towards the back.

I was all ready to get a second class seat, but then this young guy, tong, came along and informed me that for second class seats, I would have to stand for the entire duration of the match, which was from 6:30pm to 11:00pm. So I told him that well, 1500 baht for a first class seat was just too expensive. But then he said for first class seats, I would be able to take a picture with the champion fighter who would be fighting later on, the big highlight of the night. He also said he would be able to offer me a discount to get it at 1200 baht. So that’s what I got.

There were actually 10 matches altogether, with two different fighters each time. But the 6th match was the main event of the night because one of them was the champion fighter, fighting to retain his golden belt. Each match started off with a two-minute ritual performed by both fighters. It’s called wai khru, an important tradition of Muay Thai where fighters pay respect to the king, their parents and teachers. It is done for protection and victory. Every fighter does it differently, unless they are taught by the same headmaster.

The ritual was very nice to watch, like a sacred dance. It often involved the fighter going to each corner of the ring and saying prayers, sometimes stepping to the rhythm of the music, occasionally kneeling and kissing the floor. The trainers could also be seen blessing their fighters.

I sat beside a couple of Americans. One of them said he had seen me earlier on when they were in the cab going to the stadium. Apparently he had recognised me by the red Abercrombie shirt I was wearing, with the sparkling words “make me melt” at the back. That’s my favourite shirt by the way, my lucky shirt. Anyway from where I was sitting, I had a pretty good view of the match.

Depending on the fighters, some of the matches were really intense. Each match had five rounds, with two-minute breaks between rounds. During breaks, the fighters would go to their respective corner of the ring to get rested and fussed over by their trainers. There were judges alongside the ring to award points. I THINK the fighters got most points when they kicked their opponents onto the ground, because that’s when they drew the loudest cheers. Unlike Western boxing, Thai kickboxing doesn’t involve much use of punches. It was a lot of kicking to the stomach and waist areas.

Throughout the ritual and the entire match, there was a live band playing. That’s something I hadn’t known. Music was an essential part of Muay Thai. In the second and third class areas, there were many people shouting and taking bets from the others especially during breaks.

The Americans told me I could go to a section behind where the fighters could be seen in their robes getting ready. When I got there, one of the fighters smiled at me! But I only found out much later that he was chokdee, the champion fighter! Waaaaaaaaa!

Finally it was his turn to fight. He had a bigger build than most of the other fighters. Somehow, the fighters mostly seemed pretty small-built. Lean and toned and muscled, but small-built nonetheless. Anyway, he won the match and retained his title! And I got my picture with him! Haha my prize of the night.

Overall it was a really good experience and a real eye-opener. Perhaps I should go there again on Tuesday night. But this time, I would get a second class ticket to sit amidst all the punters. The atmosphere would be really different.

After I got my photo, tong invited me to go for supper with his friends near MBK. We rode his motorbike there which was totally cool. I haven’t been on one ever since four years ago. If I had a boyfriend in future, I would definitely go for the one with the motorbike rather than the one with the posh car. Along the way I saw crazy things like three adults riding on one motorbike haha.

We ate at a well-lit dim sum restaurant, with a wide variety of food. And it was all too frigging cheap, at 15 baht per dish! That’s about 60 Singapore cents! They served bak ku teh too, and it was fairly similar to the one we have in Singapore, but they served it with vegetables. Anyway his friends mostly spoke Thai and I couldn’t understand a word. So eventually I got a cab and came back to my apartment.

I got up pretty late today. After this I shall head to the weekend Chatuchak market! I have almost run out of Thai baht, so gotta convert some as well. Byebye!