Tigers, Boxing and…. a Museum

Hello all. Well, here I am, back in Australia, eventually.

I will be reviewing all my flying experiences and I will probably be starting with my experience of the previous two days with Jetstar and it’s not going to be pretty unfortunately, let’s just say I got back into Melbourne more than 10 hours after I was supposed which did have its benefits but all in all was an incredibly frustrating experience. It generally only costs a couple of hundred dollars more to not travel a budget airline and I think in future that’s the way to go. Sometimes it’s fine flying Jetstar, I know, but for the time’s it isn’t…

BUT let me tell you about my last day and a bit in Chiang Mai. I did three main things – went to see Thai Boxing, went to a place called ‘Tiger Kingdom’, and I went to the Lanna Folklife Museum.

I’ll start with the least amazing, no offence intended, and that was the Lanna Folklife Museum. It’s a small museum, it’s well air conditioned and it’s pretty well done, but museums very rarely are stoked with ‘wow’ factor. Two floors about the history of the area Chiang Mai is now at the heart of. Displays showing life in centuries past, a bit of information on Buddhism (very grateful for that as I realised I had no idea) .

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Muay Thai, Thai Boxing. I was walking through the Sunday Night Market and a guy called Thonggau came up and handed me a flyer to the boxing. He was a boxer himself and was featured on the programme, so I thought I’d give it a go. It was Monday night and I headed to the ThaePay Gate, and nestled behind some shops and a butcher’s, surrounded by bars, was the boxing ring.

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Let’s be honest, this was all principally for the tourists, I’m not sure there was a single Thai person watching who wasn’t a trainer or working at one of the bars, and the price of 400 Baht to enter was probably too much for the locals. However, it was a pretty fun night, and I saw five full fights plus the start of another. The first two were kids really, maybe 10-14 years old. Then the adults stepped up and I was told by the Thai guide sitting next to me that the kids were better than the first pair of adults. They certainly… punched strangely.

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For all fights bar a couple it seemed normal to grapple with your opponent and see how many times you could raise your knee to his midriff. Perhaps that was worth a point but THAT manoeuvre was not helping the aesthetics of the fight. Then, the ladies took centre stage in what was probably the best fight I saw. Then there was a break and we saw some knife-fighting and some fighting by blind-folded chaps which was meant as comic relief. When the ref kept getting smacked, it was pretty funny.

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Then my guy, Thonggau, stepped up. And fell down. Nearly out for the count in the second round but bravely fought through to the end of the 5-round bout. Finally, the main show but it was nearly midnight and I was about to turn into a pumpkin! Nevertheless, despite having reservations it was worth it.

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Finally, Tuesday morning saw me and my wife go to ‘Tiger Kingdom’, around 40 minutes out of Chiang Mai. This is a place you can pat, meet and have your photo taken with tigers. The tigers are not drugged, but hand-reared and seemed happy and their coats looked really healthy, beautiful colours. Again, I was bit hesitant to go, but I was so glad I did and I would have to say this was the highlight of my time in Thailand. Tigers are simply incredible animals, and at 420 baht – less than 20 bucks – to spend 15 minutes in the cage with a few medium sized tigers. A little bit more for the big tigers (really not much bigger) or the baby tigers.

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They had a pickup and drop off service for 100 baht (4 bucks) and that was per person for both directions. You can also walk about and see all the tigers they have there including a few white tigers. I have no reason to think the animals were mistreated in any way, so I felt okay about it all, and truly, it was an amazing experience. What else can be said?

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So, now that I’m back in Australia there’ll be a few reviews I guess and then slowly back to Sunday Spotlights, Foto Fridays and I will continue the adventures of my first ever backpacking trip, so stay tuned, and may the journey never end!


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