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There were four of us on the trip to Thailand last summer. We had a doctor, a dentist, a musician and a journo – not the most likely crew but, hey, we all wanted to see the world and we certainly all liked to party.
We decided pre-trip we were going to wing it. So when we arrived in Bangkok we set up camp at the backpackers hot spot, Khao San Road.
Khao San is like nothing I imagined. It’s a dirty, old road lined with shops, hostels, massage parlours and, of course, bars. The street never sleeps. At night, the lady boys and hookers are everywhere and they only ever have one thing to say: “You want Boom Boom?”
The first day we just tried to take it in. We wandered the streets and checked out the shops. We quickly realized if you’re white in Thailand, you can’t take a step without someone coming up to you and calling you some sort of celebrity and trying to sell you something. My friend the musician, who has long hair, would always get: “Hey Captain Jack, want to buy a suit? Come on Joe Sakic shopped here!”
Avoiding scams and trusting no one was all we could do. Even the places that seem like legitimate tourist companies ripped us off. The number one rule in South East Asia is to always keep your wallet and passport on you. Even when you think you’re safely on a bus, someone could be underneath you in the luggage compartment rifling through your stuff. Trust me, it happened.
While wandering the streets, we heard there were Muay Thai fights happening that night at a stadium not far away, so we figured we’d check them out. Muay Thai is a combat sport, similar to the UFC, minus all the rolling around on the ground. Once again, when we arrived, we didn’t know what to expect.
The stadium was fairly small, tucked in between two buildings on a basic city street. Outside we grabbed a couple beers, which we were allowed to bring in. Walking in, there was a metal detector set up, but no security paid attention to it and I’m not convinced it even worked. We were ushered to our ring-side seats the lady convinced us to buy for $20.
Two young Thai boys, who couldn’t have been much older than 12, hopped into the ring and did a sort of pre-fight dance ritual.
I remember thinking, “Oh, this must be the pre-show.” Wrong.
Once the dance ritual was done, the boys squared off and fought. Watching two 12 year olds beating the hell out of each other was one of the most awkward experiences I’ve ever had.
As the fights went on, the fighters’ ages increased, our drinking increased – and the number of knockouts increased. If you wanted to meet a fighter, all you had to do was go grab a beer. The fighters got ready in a big open room next to the beer stand. People were able to walk right through the room and you could even stop and have a smoke if you wanted.
The last fight of the night gave us an unexpected surprise. Every fighter so far had been Thai, and this match had a Thai fighter squaring off against a white guy from Sweden. I assumed he’d lose. Wrong again.
He broke the Thai fighter’s leg with a hard kick in the first round and followed it up with the most over-the-top celebration I ever saw.
With the fights ending, we started following the crowd out of the stadium and down the street, drunk with no game plan in mind. We stopped and debated taking the subway, when this took-took driver started yelling at us that he would drive us. We paid no attention to him till he dropped his price to about two dollars and we couldn’t resist.
We crammed in the back of the took-took, which is a motor bike, with a small carriage attached to it, built for two people, not four fairly big guys.
We asked our driver where the good clubs were, but it was only 9 p.m., so he recommended we catch a show.What kind of show? “Ping-Pong show.” What happens there? “Girls open coca cola with pussies.” Sold.
We pulled down a dark alley with absolutely no lights – extremely sketchy, but we were drunk so we didn’t care. Walking in, the doorman told us the price. We didn’t have enough, so he just took what we had and let us in. What we saw next was probably the most outrageously funny or disturbing thing I will ever see in my life.
There were about 100 people gathered around this small stage, some laughing, some gaping in disbelief, all staring at two people front and center having sex on stage. We settled in at the back. Our waitress got us drinks and tried to get us to come out back with her. We politely refused and turned our attention back to the stage.
The show was half an hour, starting with the sexual intercourse, where the man does a cartwheel while having sex and moving on to different girls coming up and showing off their various talents. Some of the tricks involved Coca Cola bottles, Ping-Pong balls, darts and glow and the dark beads. After 30 minutes, it restarted and they did it all over again.
We quickly decided once was enough and headed back to Khao San Road to party the night away.