When I first hit Bangla Road (Soi Bangla) in Patong it was a bit disorientating.
I’d had a few cocktails beforehand to help me slip into the party spirit. The 400 metre road was closed off to vehicle traffic. Bangla was a party zone, with neon signs and lights flashing, and loud thumping music from the competing line-up of street bars stimulating my senses. It was jam-packed with people, and it seemed like everyone was out for a night of excess.
The atmosphere was festive; with touts selling everything from tickets to ‘ping-pong shows’ to the latest plastic whizzy thing that may entertain children for a few hours before boredom sets in or the toy breaks.
Scantily clothed girls wriggle their wares in the hope of enticing our group to enter their establishment. With flamboyant Ladyboy dancers at Soi Vegas sexily posing for photographs. I looked up to the second stories of bars and saw girls gyrating on poles, girls in glass surrounds giving the come-hither stare.
My first Muay Thai event at the Bangla Boxing Stadium in Patong, Phuket – Thailand was an experience.
Attending martial art events is not something I’d normally do but after hearing all day long from a van decorated as a boxing rink driving around the streets of Phuket and announcing from a megaphone “Tonight – Tonight – Big fight, BIG FIGHT” I thought I’d go and see a match.
Muay Thai is the national sport and cultural martial art of Thailand and I had high expectations. The stadium was filled with cigarette smoke and Sarama the traditional music of Muay Thai playing through the sound system adding to the atmosphere in the stadium. Small groups of gamblers scattered throughout the stadium betting on each fight added to the tension of the evening.
I enjoyed watching the wai kru ram muay – the pre-fight ritual dance being performed to pay respect to the fighters, trainers and coaches.
It was fascinating to see ringside spectators facial expressions circulating through a range of emotions as the fights intensified.
Beside us a bench of tourists getting into the spirit of the event and chanting ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi Oi Oi.’
Please see a collection of photographs taken of the ‘nak muay’ and ‘nak muay – farang’ fighters at the Muay Thai event in November 2010.
The Vegetarian Festival in Phuket – Thailand helps prevent illness and death according to popular legend. In 1825 a traveling Chinese opera company, ngiu in Thai orpua-hee in Hokkien dialect, came to perform in Naithu Village, Kathu.
Unfortunately, after a time many of the performers became terribly sick, and they decided that the cure was to eat only vegetables as they had done in China, in an act of contrition or expurgation for the sins incurred by the killing and consumption of animals.
Miraculously the ill members of the group were healed, and so the Chinese immigrants arranged for a Festival to be held again the next year, and every year since.
Thus, many believe holding the Festival helps prevent illness, death and the loss of innocent lives in the community by promoting physical and spiritual recovery through ritual practices that cleanse the body and mind while strengthening the faith.