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How can you go to Thailand and not immediately think of that song? I went to Bangkok last week and had those lyrics running through my head, at least the few lines I remember: One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble, and something with despair and ecstasy. It goes well with the madness of the place. I just wikipediad it and the lyrics are actually quite bizar. It’s from a concept album about two chess players and the sordid love triangle they end up in with their female manager. Who knew ?

I don’t see you guys rating
The kind of mate I’m contemplating
I’d let you watch, I would invite you
But the queens we use would not excite you

And no, there’s no double entendre there. But I digress. What I wanted to talk about is not the usual mix of backpackers, fried cockroaches and the way prostitutes work the clubs in packs, always a ‘brother’ present. Maybe I’ll get to that later. I wanted to say something about the wonderful world of Muay Thai or Thai Boxing.

Given the name it’s not surprising that it’s Thailand’s national sport. I saw some matches last Sunday and it’s a fascinating thing. First the fighters come out and perform various ritual prayers, greetings and signs of respect, bowing down deeply. Then they kick the shit out of each other. They do so for 5 rounds at the end of which it’s an utter mystery who won.

Points are awarded for correct and dominating Thai boxing style. I guessed the outcome wrong half the time. You’d think that the guy who was beaten to a bloody pulp for 15 minutes or so is the loser, but you could well be wrong. Points are awarded for defensive style too. It’s confusing. Watch the video below and it seems to be just as confusing to the participants. Can’t tell from their reactions who won.

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