I got used to the intense workouts because in the weeks that followed I managed to run 10k most days, as in I didn’t stop or walk as much. Those of you who are into running know that it is much harder to stop then start, stop then start again, so it’s best just to carry on, even if it is a slow jog. I had quickly come to the conclusion that the boxer boys don’t take to girls training as much they do with guys, which is, I guess, pretty standard as Muay Thai is predominately a male sport and in some provinces they don’t even let females train. Anders and Seb were getting far more attention than I was, in that they always used to get to train on pads first and for longer and they used to get massages to each aching limbs. Not that I was expecting that, being in a society where it is offensive for males and females to touch each other in public, but this was serious Muay Thai training. I was sure I wasn’t doing perfect kicks or punches but they tended to leave me to get on with punch bag training. I decided that if it carried on I would say something the following week to Aek as I wanted to get as much out of the training as possible and wanted to learn everything there was to learn. One of the guys, Seb, (20 years of age) left training one morning because it was all too much for him. Anders, who was suffering as well, was 24, and then there was me who, at nearly double their ages, was still going for it, even though I was aching all over. I am so competitive, and I really wanted to push myself in order to gain a sense of achievement by completing the full 8 weeks training.
My fellow boxers and I had been invited by the family to go and watch Lunglit fight, so we stayed at the boxing camp after our afternoon session. They made us dinner of rice and chicken but the family didn’t eat with us, apparently due to the fact that Lunglit had to be weighed in the next morning. We were in bed by 7.30pm which we didn’t expect it to be so early, and had to share a bedroom. Chewey and Maue, two of the younger boxers, found it hilarious that we were all sleeping together in the one room and kept coming in and laughing until they retired to bed in the boxing ring.
The reason we were in bed so early was apparent the next morning when we got awakened at 3.00am. At 3.40am we all piled into the truck, me inside in the back seat and the boys in the back of the truck, headed for Bangkok. When we arrived there were already a few people at Songchai Boxing Stadium. Lunglit weighed in and he was over by a few kilograms so he spent the next hour running round the building in a sweat suit. Another weigh in, still over, so he went into the sauna. Eventually his weight was ok and we got back in the truck and made our way to Suphanburi, which is where he was actually going to fight.
Because we were with the family, who are actually well known in the world of Muay Thai we were allowed into the cordoned off area, where the boxers where getting ready by being massaged head to toe in deep heat. We watched the first 2 fights and then it was Lunglit’s turn. When we were wandering around, we came across a temple and in there we decided to pray for Lunglit to win his fight. But obviously no one was listening to us, because he lost. We didn’t know whether to say anything, like “oh we are sorry you lost” or something like that so we didn’t say anything but he seemed ok about losing. You win some, you lose some right? He still got paid for his efforts though, something around 60,000baht (around £1200).
We left Suphanburi and went back to the training camp for some food and then we were off again to watch another fight, this time Chewey and Maue and Ap (pronounced ape). Whenever you get invited to go on these random little jaunts with Thais, you never quite know what it going on, we didn’t even know we were watching more fights, but these types of experiences are what makes traveling all the more memorable. It took about an hour to get to the fight location, we had to pick up Chewey’s family on the way and we arrived about 9pm. Basically we were in the middle of nowhere and outside the fight arena, I say arena- it was a boxing ring with a makeshift wall of tarpaulin, there were stalls set up selling food and drinks. The reason why it was in the middle of nowhere has actually just occurred to me while I am writing this. Gambling in Thailand is illegal, the cost of which will get you a hefty fine or even a prison sentence and there was plenty of gambling going on amongst the boxing camps, betting on their guy to win. We were in the minority in that arena and we heard people saying “farang, farang” (“foreigner, foreigner”) and staring at us. The thing with the Thais is, especially in more rural areas, which are not on the so called tourist trail, they don’t get to see a lot of foreigners, so what they do is stare and sometimes it is a little disconcerting. But, they are just interested in who you are and where you are from, so it is best just to take it in your stride and smile at them. 95% of the time you get a wonderfully huge smile back, which is typically Thai. However, at first we did feel a little nervous as most of these people were drunk, on cheap Thai whiskey and kept glaring and saying stuff to us which we mostly didn’t understand. But we knew that the family we were with would look after us so we started to relax a bit and enjoy watching the fights. By the time that Chewey and Maue fought, we had been standing for 3 hours and if you include the early start and long day we had already had, our ankles became swollen. But we thought that we couldn’t complain as 1. we were experiencing something not many tourists would, and 2. we weren’t the ones who were getting the crap beat out of us. Ap won his fight and the prize money was 60,000 baht, to be shared out amongst the family. This is how they make their living, no one works as such instead they train to compete in Muay Thai fights which provides the income for the family. Maue won and so did Chewey. Both kids were pretty good fighters and easily over threw their opponents and at least they earned their keep. We left at 2am and got back to Singburi at 3am after spending an excellent 24 hours with the boxers. Up to that point that was actually the best day that I had spent in Thailand so far.