Friday, September 14, 2012

Team Quest Thailand Muay Thai Festival

For those of you who have never been to a Thai festival, you are really missing out. Periodically through out the year different towns will host a festival where people from all around the region will come and celebrate. The festivals are a collection of fair games, amazing food, partying, music, and Muay Thai. They are usually held in huge fields in the country side.

The fairs typically start out with people eating some nice food and walking around and just enjoying the atmosphere. Although these are family friendly, usually most of the adults start hitting the booze. After a while some local bands start to play and this is when the festivals get good. Everybody starts to dance and really enjoy themselves. The music goes on for quit a while. At some point usually around 10pm the Muay Thai fights begin. Now remember, most of these are in the country side so it's very rare to have foreigners on these Muay Thai cards. So when a foreigner rocks up they are treated like a superstar. A lot of these thai people might never have seen a foreigner before or possibly only a few.

Here is a video of the festivals. You can see the Muay Thai ring at the end.

I'll share with you our last experience at one of these fairs. So on a Saturday morning a local promoter called us up and asked if we had any foreigners who would like to fight at his fair in the Lampang province. Now, we live in the Chiang Mai province so this is a bit of a trek for us. He assured us that it was only 1 hour a way. The problem with the Lampang province is that it is rather big.

We had a fighter named Steve from Australia step up and take the fight. So we packed into our truck and started heading to Lampang. This is where it started to become shady. After about 1 hour we were only 33% of the way there on the map. Remember that we still have training sessions on Saturday afternoon so we didn't actually leave from the gym until about 7pm. So after getting lost, misdirected, a flat tire, we were starting to get a bit worried we wouldn't make it on time.

After about 3 hours we finally found it. We were in the sticks. This was the definition of Thai country side. We rocked up and the atmosphere was awesome. The Muay Thai fights had already started and we just got told that our fighter was the next fight. So we rush to get out of the truck and literally every single Thai person stopped to stare at us. We showed up with about 10 foreigners which is about 9 more than any of them had seen in there life. We rushed through the crowd to the Muay Thai ring and started prepping Steve for the fight.

The great part about it is that we had been reserved front row VIP seats by the promoter and the Team Quest Thailand students were offered free whiskey in a friendly offer from the him. It was a really cool experience but at this point I just started to get a bad feeling. The crowd seemed to be a little biased to say the least. Most were very much rooting for their fellow Thai Muay Thai fighter.

So the fight began and right off the bat I could see we were a little mismatched. The promoter told us that the Thai fighter only had 5 fights which was equivalent to Steve's experience. The fact that the Thai fighter had a good 5 kilo's on him didn't make me feel to good either. I could tell after the first minute this guy had 100 + fights. But Steve was a warrior and put on a very good first round.

The second round is where it got a bit sketch. In typical Thai style the opponent was very relaxed and started to open up a bit more in this round. I forgot to mention this guy had tree trucks for legs and kicked like a mule. So during this round things got a little weird. Some random racist old Thai man threw a half full beer at Steve's head during the fight and yelled some racist stuff in Thai. Now remember, this is Thailand's country side so it is the equivalent of any countries sticks. Usually these area's are less educated and not as tolerable of outsiders. The old man disappeared into the Huge uncontrolled crowd. This festival is completely uncontrolled. There is no security guards to sorta grab this guy and push him out the door.

At this point the fight was obviously stopped and random people tried to solve the situation. Lucky for us our Thai trainer ping went crazy and took matters into his own hands. He tried to go after the guy but was held back. Not many people actually knew who did it but Ping saw the guy do it. So Ping jumped into the ring and demanded either the guy fight him now in the ring on the spot or gets thrown out. So the crowd did some self policing so pushed this guy to the street where he was forced to walk home and think about what he had just done. Most of the Thai people were happy to host us. It's always just one person that ruins it for everyone.

So the second round began again and Steve fought on like a warrior. In the 3 round the Thai picked it up a bit more. His experience, better technique, and size advantage was to much to overcome. The Thai eventually stopped Steve with a brutal body kick. It was ok though, I was proud of Steve for stepping up and fighting this guy on 12 hour notice. He could have opted out after he seen the size of this guy but he didn’t' care, he just wanted to fight.

So the fight was finished and we were planning on sticking around a bit longer to enjoy the festival. At this time everybody started to get a bit more rowdy. This is typical at any place where people have been drinking alcohol for 6 hours straight. Thai people started to physically fight with each other and people were passed out everywhere. It was time to count our blessings and hit the road.

Although it sounded like a bit of a bad story, it was actually a lot of fun. Steve wasn't hurt more than just typical soreness from being kicked by a mule. Nothing was broken or needed medical supervision. So we pretty much got out of the ring and went straight back to our truck. We left about midnight and pretty much had the same journey back that we had on the way there. We got lost and misguided by locals. I think we rocked up at like 4am and everyone was ready to just pass out.


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