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23 December 2005

the fight to the thai

my guesthouse lies on the outskirts of chiang mai... twenty minute walk or five minute tuk tuk ride to the old city center square surrounded by a moat. i ate some breakfast and then wandered throughout the moon muang area in search of a good trekking company to take me away from the city into the jungle. by 1400 i'd grown tired of the search. it's so difficult to determine which company is reputable and where the best value lies... i eventually decided to just book through my guesthouse. i gave the guesthouse a call and booked the trek leaving tomorrow at 0900.

in the evening i met up with australians rob and stella who had just returned from the same trek which i'd be taking tomorrow morning. positive review. kick. i shared a tuk tuk with them to a muay thai fight in chiang mai where we met their seven fellow trekkers and guide, rambo (no kidding). unfortunately, rambo would not be leading my trek. damn.

the ten matches were far more brutal than those i'd seen in bangkok. whereas the fighters in bangkok generally just danced around for the first two rounds, the fighters here went right at each other from the opening bell. two fights were stopped due to TKO... one fighter got nailed in the face with an elbow and the other suffered an apparently broken arm. evil. the ninth match of the night pitted a man from england against a thai. the english man dominated the entire fight and was the clear victor yet the judges awarded the fight to the thai amidst much booing from the mostly foreign audience.

i got a better look at the band and instruments this time. what i thought was a tamborine is more like a pair of cymbals which are clanged together. the pipe, rambo told me, is called an 'opie'. for the first eight matches, the piper played the same weedling unmelodic frenzy that i'd heard in bangkok. for the ninth fight (the one in which the english man was fighting), he began playing an almost poppish melodic pipe riff. i wasn't the only one to notice the complete change-up in style... i'd been talking to two americans sitting behind me for several of the matches and when the pop pipe riff began, i looked back at them and they had strange looks on their faces... 'the pipe?' 'yes!' we couldn't control our laughter for three minutes straight. and yes, you had to be there.

posted by paul on Fri 23 Dec 2005 at 00:00:00 est (-05:00)

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