Wednesday, November 26, 1997

Bangkok, Thailand I

The two young men were draped in flower garlands and swayed like cranes, lost in the hypnotic music that filled the steamy Thai night. Each dropped to his knees in prayer, touching his forehead to the ground then raising face and arms toward the bright lights above in a silent reverie. They went to their masters and received a last minute blessing. Then they proceeded to beat the living shit out of each other.

It's fight night in Bangkok, and Thai kick boxing is not for the faint of heart.

I ventured down to Lumpinee Boxing Stadium with no small measure of trepidation. Blood sports are not really my scene. But after a hour-long, three mile taxi ride through rush hour traffic, I paid my 880 baht ($22 even at the current devalued exchange) for a ringside seat. I wandered in just in time for what looked like a school yard brawl. Two boys, who looked no older than 12, were hard at it punching and kicking in disciplined fury. Any responsible adult would send the pair of them down to the principal's office.

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