New Year's Eve--four days left in Krung Thep so down to last boxes for checking. I'm a fight fan so I knew I wanted to take in a Muay Thai event. Three options in Bangkok:
- Rajadamnern Stadium. Home of the biggest shows, and the biggest prices to boot: 1500 baht and up. Too paeng for this farang.
- Lumpinee. Most tickets are similarly priced as above. Also I'd heard some (possibly unfair) criticism of the venue so didn't give it much of a second thought. Especially when there's:
- Channel 7. Live televised shows every Sunday afternoon. And the price? Free.
And everything I'd read was that this was real Bangkok, a real local experience. So I get to rub shoulders with those I've lived among for the last nine months and...
Well, it's about the fights--and they were exciting for sure. Sample:
Two young men giving their all to take care of their families and put on a show. How can you not smile?
Important to note, however, that gambling is NOT allowed, as all these signs attest:
And Thais are a rules-following sort, so...
And we saw a title change hands. At least, the back of it:
After this the plan was a quiet, introvert-friendly New Year's celebration: order a pizza, drink cocktails, watch the fireworks.
But dating a Thai isn't always simple. Because she has family, and they have get-togethers for holidays, and they invite you. And you can't say no, because that would be rude (and even though you are rude, you don't want them to know that).
So before long I'm sitting in the soi, struggling to communicate my appreciation for gracious hospitality. "Dii!" Smile. "Chai." Smile. "Aroi mak!" Smile. "Khap khun khrap." Smile.
And how gracious is that hospitality? Check the prawns:
Long before I'm saying "Im lau im mak!" I realize this is what I most wanted. In my last days here, one more real Krung Thep experience. Because while weather, topography, architecture, and attractions all contribute to a given location, I've found it's always the people that truly make a place. And in a city full of kindness, the family I spent New Year's evening with was among the most. Still, I wanted to show my appreciation beyond poorly articulated Thai and crooked smiling. Thankfully, I get that chance after I push away from the dinner table, full and happy, while others in the family have yet to be fed themselves:
And I still got my fireworks:
Sawasdee bpii-mai! Happy 2561!