Following a hectic night on the train thanks to the Worst Tour Guide Ever, I was more than ready to get off the train and start exploring Chiang Mai which I had read tons of wonderful things about. After spending the bulk of the day in the hotel enjoying functional ensuite wifi, we reconvened with the group for another evening with The Worst Tour Guide Ever (WTGE). We met up at the Stray guesthouse and WTGE told us he knew of a good place for dinner – which he couldn’t find so we picked a random place because, you know, he’s the worst tour guide ever
After dinner WTGE asked us if we would be interested in going to a Thai Boxing match, to which the group answered a resounding yes. I mean that’s just something you have to do when you go to Thailand. Watch tiny Asian men beat the shit out of each other with their knees and elbows – or at least that’s what I expected based on watching Tony Jaa movies. We got set up with tickets and had about an hour to kill until the fights so we grabbed a tower of beer, then headed over to the arena for a night of violence.
As would be expected when placing an Asian in a situation where gambling is encouraged as soon as we sat down I asked the other people in our group if they wanted to bet on the fights with me. WTGE advised against placing bets with the circulating bookies as they were sure to show up when you lost and seamlessly blended in with every other Asian in the arena when you were looking to collect your winnings. Once the boxing started, even though I suspected the matches were put on for show for westerners and tourists, I did start to get into it. WTGE and I were betting each other massive 20 baht bets as children from the youth leagues punched and kicked each other to the tune of drums. I think it’s the drums that got me. Instead of running a clock, the drum beats faster and faster as the end of the round approaches making your heart race in anticipation. And as my 1/16th Jamaican side can tell you, there’s nothing better than drum beats to get you amped up.
After watching a few kids beat each other up, next came the women’s match. The first girl was big for an Asian girl, but more or less the size of your average American. Then the second girl came out and I stand corrected, she was the size of your average American…from the south or middle America. I try not to bash other girls looks, because you know, eating disorders and all those other #whitepeopleproblems but as the two girls started fighting and the bigger girl started mouth breathing and looking tired I feared she would fall over on the other chick and crush her. I placed my bet on the big girl as WTGE tried to refuse it on the grounds that if she landed one punch the other girl would go through the ropes, but he finally accepted my challenge. But as I should’ve known from watching any fighting movie ever, agile and athletic beats big and heavy and WTGE took my money. Hustling the tour group, tsk tsk…
For the halftime show, a round of blindfolded boxing commenced while blasting Gangnam Style (seriously the amount of love for that song in SEA is ridiculous. I heard it at least 3 times a day no exaggeration). And while it was fun to watch the ref in the ring try to avoid getting hit by the visionless fighters, it was even better to watch him dropkick one of them after he got wailed on – before which my camera decided to run out of memory. But trust me, it was great.
Having nothing to bet on since clearly the only winner of that fight was going to be the ref, WTGE pointed out that there were international flags hanging all over the room and bet me that I couldn’t name a section of them. Unbeknownst to him, I am a fucking nerd and know all the flags of every country in the world. Pretending to struggle I named them all including some less common African countries at which point he realized I was hustling him. He then asked if I knew the capitals of those flags. Which, yes I am also that much of a loser and I knew all those too. This quickly turned into the all night drunk geography nerd game of us yelling countries at each other and demanding instantaneous identification of the capital.
Eventually the boxing came to an end after a fight between a large Argentinian and a fat out of shape Thai dude they made box him for a “fair” weight class match up. All in all it was a fun experience and WTGE did well on suggesting a fun night out. To wind down the group of us headed to the Yellow Zone which is where all the backpackers go to meet up and drink buckets. As soon as we arrived WTGE and I decided to split a bucket since we had bonded over geographical geekiness – and he wanted to test out my claims of being an Asian who is able to drink. We also ran into the accidental prostitute purchasing Bostonians who joined us. After the first bucket I still didn’t think I felt tipsy and since I was drinking with an Irishman who was trying to beat me in geography knowledge it wasn’t hard to to talk him into a second bucket. As we neared the end of it he asked me the capital of Tajikistan causing me to bury my face in the bucket trying to buy myself some time to think.
Still couldn’t come up with the answer but by that point I was willing to admit intoxication instead of having to succumb to the admission that I couldn’t think of the capital of Tajikistan. We had also lost most of our group by this point except the alcoholic Bostonians and the Belgian because I’m pretty sure Belgians are born with bottles full of beer instead of milk. And since we were all inebriated the obvious next best stop was to stagger to the reggae bar where tatted up dreadlocked Thai guys served us mojitos. At this point I was intoxicated to the point where I get awkwardly “friendly”. There was a random dude from the States chilling at the bar who happened to be black so I figured a good first topic of conversation with a fellow American would be “How does it feel to be black in Thailand and stand out like a sore thumb?” I am a drunk racist.
After that it was probably time to go home since I had consumed something like a beer at dinner, shared a tower at the bar, drank two more beers at the Muay Thai match, shared 2 buckets of Thai whisky and coke and then had two mojitos and a shot. As I started to walk home, being a gentleman and an excellent tour guide, WTGE insisted that I should take a tuktuk back even though my hotel was only a 10 minute walk away. As he hailed me a tuk tuk, I did the ladylike thing, and started sprinting down the street in my heels because at the time it made sense to avoid paying for a ride home. He quickly caught up to me and after reminding him that I’m from New York and used to getting home just fine he finally let me go after mentioning that we would be going to a ladyboy show the next night. What a great mental image right before heading to bed.
The next morning I woke up with a terrible hangover thinking “I should not have drank two buckets of whiskey,” and then a weird thought popped into my head. Dushanbe?