On Phuket, we avoided the beaches (because it's so over developed) and stayed in Old Phuket Town, a small quiet little town away from everything. I really liked it here because the people were friendly and laid back. We then took a ferry to Ko Lanta for some beach relaxation. Once again we found a hotel that was located right next to the local mosque, and as our luck would have it the speaker for this mosque was right outside our room and pointed at our door so it was extremely loud. This has been a recurring theme so far in SE Asia and is the cause of many days of broken sleep. Adding to our enjoyment, several families were vacationing together there and took over the place. Kids running around screaming at the top of their lungs until late in the evening, adults running around screaming at the top of their lungs until late in the evening, the staff was absent and wouldn't do anything about it (although there were more staff then guests so figure that one out), and in keeping with SE Asia's beaches, Ko Lanta's beach was dirty with a hidden surprise - just below the surface of the water were tons of jagged rocks that you wouldn't see until low tide - jump right in! We couldn't wait to get out of there. Next a ferry to Ko Phi Phi (PeePee) for what we imagined would be more of the same. Fortunately, this place was very nice and we found the relaxation we were looking for.
Next stop was to the city of Chiang Mai in the northern highlands. Decent enough city if you love smog. I do, I love the way it tickles the back of your throat and burns your eyes. I love the accompanying cough and itchy skin. And I love taking a day trip up into the mountains for views of the city and not seeing anything.
Finally it was on to Bangkok. The great sage Murray Head spoke intimately of Bangkok when he said:
One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company
I can feel the Devil walking next to me
One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain't free
You'll find a God in every golden cloister
And if you're lucky then the God's a she
I can feel an angel sliding up to me
Not many people know that the song is about a chess tournament in Bangkok and the players ability to ignore the cities depravities. We are not chess players and we couldn't ignore Bangkok. Here's what happened.
After we went to watch Muay Thai with our friend Kelly, Christine announced loudly that she wanted to be a Kickboxer. Some shady looking character overheard her and said that his name was Freddy Lee and that he could help her get a fight. She agreed to the terms that it would be a friendly exhibition and we were showed to the changing rooms. After seeing the guy Christine had to fight I got really nervous and pleaded with her not to fight this guy, but cocky Christine wouldn't listen. The fighter's name was Tong Po and he looked crazy.
|This is Tong Po
It became immediately clear that this wasn't going to an exhibition and Christine was pummeled until the bell ended the round. I wanted to throw in the towel, but Christine wouldn't have it. Unfortunately Tong Po ended Christine's Kickboxer career with a decisive blow to the spine, knocking her out. She was put on a stretcher and they threw us out on the street. I was able to get her to a hospital where the doctors did what they could. I vowed, then and there, that I would have my revenge on Tong Po. The next day I sought out this old, hermit-like Muay Thai master in the hopes that he would train me to be a Kickboxer. Fortunately he agreed to help and my training began straight away. This crazy old man used all kinds of unorthodox techniques like making me wear pork chops and having his starved attack dog chase me around, I would punch under water - for no reason, he would drop medicine balls from insane heights onto my stomach (hitting it every time!), I would ballerina kick clay pots filled with water (for effect of shattering clay in slow motion), he got me drunk at the local cantina and had me dance with the local ladies (he said to see my balance) then he went around and insulted all of the guys so I would have to fight them and finally he tried to attack me with fire brands leaving me to defend myself with nothing but my bare hands. What's most amazing is that all of this training took place during a 25 minute training montage - this guy's incredible!
|All just part of the training... mmm, look at those moves
I then accepted Tong Po's challenge to fight the "old way". The old way is without gloves or rules. Your hands are bound in cords, you then dip them in honey or resin and then dip them in whatever you think will help you beat the other guy. Think a sundae for your fists. Some go resin and broken glass, I went chocolate sauce, mini marshmallows and Reese's Pieces - Tong Po didn't stand a chance!
|Whipping up a fist-sundae of death!
Anyway, I won, the doctors fixed-up Christine and we headed to Myanmar. All-in-all, a good time in Thailand.