Warm winter days
By Jan Hedegaard
We went boxing in Patong and with a diving ship
to the Simililan Islands. The season has just started in Thailand and it will
only end when it is spring again in Denmark.
The music - a screeching flute and a drum - could be heard all the way in the parking lot, which mostly consisted of puddles from the afternoon's tropical rinse.
The last stretch of the road to the Phuket Boxing Stadium was stalls with snacks, toys and cigarettes. From the outside, it looked like a warehouse if you overlooked the neon sign with "Phuket Boxing Stadium" on the facade.
In the middle of the hall, a boxing ring was
placed on the cement floor. Around it stood plastic garden chairs with numbers.
On the gable hung a picture of the king and his queen. The music sounded even
more intrusive, and in the ceiling propeller slumped ineffectually into the
Right at the ringside sat the judges, the secondary and the raw fans. The latter shouted, spit and bet, and drank the horrible mekong whiskey and allowed themselves to tear up as the evening progressed, and they became more and more full.
It was still early in the evening and the participants were getting older and heavier, like evenings
It was still early in the evening and the
participants were getting older and heavier as the evening went on. Two boys
aged 10-12 entered the ring and began the ceremony before the match. They wore a
momokong, a colored ribbon, around the head and a ribbon around the arm with a
small Buddha image. Both should bring happiness and divine protection.
They kneeled with their hands together and bowed their heads three times to honor their teachers and pray for victory and protection. The seconds removed the headbands after a brief prayer before the fight began. The boys' upper bodies and their long arms were lubricated with oil. They were wearing boxing gloves and speckled nylon shorts. No boots on the feet. The referee conducted his initial checks and noticed whether both combatants were wearing crotch protectors.
A knock on a bell indicated that the
fight was underway. First they danced around each other and looked at
each other, and then suddenly kicks and punches fell.
Strokes and bumps with knees, elbows, legs and shoulders are allowed, and every time they succeed, the spectators wail loudly with enthusiasm. Agility and speed settled the fight, while the music played incessantly. It increased and decreased in volume and intensity with the events in the ring.
There were five laps of three minutes duration
with two minutes in between. When the bell sounded, a large metal tray was
thrown into the ring corner and a plastic stool was placed on it. Then the boxer
was lifted up and put on the stool, after which the seconds rubbed and massaged
his muscles with ice and ice water.
Suddenly in the fourth round, one of the boys hit him and hit his opponent in the head. His body fell backward and back into the ropes and then down the canvas. The seconds were lightning fast in the ring and lifted him up and turned him over. His arms dangled, he was completely gone. They massaged his temples and made him conscious.
Wobbling, he was helped down. The battle was
lost. It may not be pretty, but that's what happens.
The other boy was named winner. But it wasn't just money at all. In one of the following matches, a slightly older boy won a goat.
Like so many places in the hot countries, the contrasts between beauty and brutality are spot on.
The new Canary Islands
Phuket is the small tropical island
that hangs like a jewel in southern Thailand between Burma and
Malaysia facing the Andaman Sea. Many Scandinavians use it today in
much the same way they used to do in the Canary Islands. A sunny,
warm and exotic alternative to cold, dark and rain. The peak season
extends from December to April.
Patong is the island's roaring tourist destination of those you are either attracted to or repelled by, and you even know what you are. Here are expensive seafood and fish restaurants, tailors who hand-sew for no money and shops with bar clothes for no money at all. Almost. There are stalls with sparkling copy goods and souvenirs on the strip. There are offers of traditional - not naughty - Thai massage, and there are offers of traditional - naughty - Thai massage.
There are Bangla Road and three
similar streets with loud thumping pops, bars, skirmishes and
photographers offering the night's guests a picture with a doped
animal on their arm: a monkey, iguana or eagle. Often it is the
endangered animal - at least it is the abused animal - so do not be.
And yes, girls and boys are particularly vulnerable to prostitution.
There are cheap hotels and there are the expensive ones located right down to the beach. The town has a fine sandy beach to swim from and hot sea water to bathe in. On the beach are sun loungers for rent in the first row after the surf and in the next row of beach bars.
IIn number six, "Chez Bernard", with
the French host, there is coziness and atmosphere, whether you sit
and drink on a six percent Singha beer or the somewhat weaker and
more recommendable Singha Gold. Also the food is excellent.
Monsieur Bernard himself with the shoulder-length brown, slightly bleached hair looks like an aging musketeer in bathing suits. He personifies the very concept of 'laid back'. If I understood correctly, m. Bernard should have been a veteran of the war in French Indochina, but he has probably been a veteran of a Vietnam demonstration around 1970.
Just outside Patong, the journey to
Phuket is also the encounter with a fascinating foreign culture.
Orange-clad Buddhist monks strolling in the roadside and houses with
small spirit houses in front.
If there are buildings, there are also spirit houses and they claim a prominent location. Otherwise, the spirits may be moving in to the living, and that mixing is not appropriate. It is also true that if a house is expanded, then the spirit house expands accordingly. For the same reason, the hotels have large spirit houses of up to 100 square meters in the garden.
An expensive but humanistic dive
Another option is to go diving in the
Similan Islands with, for example, the Viking of the Orient. The
owner is Norwegian and is called Einer Meling. Five days costs
between $ 900 and $ 1,400. Then everything is also paid for:
Courses, scuba diving, cabins, catering ...
A stay on the dive boat is a stay in a small piece of orderly western culture in the midst of the Asian Empire. On board are spacious two-cabin cabins with private toilet and bath for guests. There is dining in the salon and on the aft deck, and the crew are both trained sailors and wreck diving experts.
The ship's mascot, the Burmese ship boy Nok - the name means "bird" - came with the ship, so to speak. He and some other boys from Burma played soccer at the square where the ship was built. And Einar Meling, the northerner who let the ship build, noted that they continued to play football after the Thai children started school.
Burmese are without rights in Thailand, so Einar Meling hired a teacher himself, bought books and teaching materials and started a boys' school next to the Viking of the Orient while slowly taking shape. When Nok turned 16, the ship was done and he signed up the same day.
The charismatic Einar Meling was - briefly - known in the 1980s as Mr. Smoke Detector in Norway. He was the man behind the invention of the battery-powered smoke alarm that has since saved thousands of people. Meling followed the idea up with portable security alarms that older people could carry around their necks and with a push made the alarm center go off. The system was since purchased by the Norwegian state.
He used the money to build his own
ship on Phuket. It started with the decision that he would build a
ship that should be 35 feet long. Now he is wealthy tourists sailing
around to the most exquisite diving locations in the Andaman Sea. He
is incessantly full of both initiative and humanism.
The ship likes to go up to the islands at the Burmese border, where there are also unique opportunities to meet eight-meter-long whale sharks. During the rainy season from April to October, the Viking of the Orient goes across the Malaysian Peninsula in the Gulf of Siam, where it sails as a conference ship between Rayong and Koh Chang on the Cambodian border, because the weather is better here.
About 90 kilometers out to the Similan Islands, the ship was
accompanied by a part of the way of dolphins, and as we approached,
we sailed through vast shoals of blue fish and closer to the shore
all clouds of bright yellow clownfish.
The Similan Islands sometimes call the Thais as Ko Kao, "nine islands" because there are nine of them, and because the islands besides a name each also have a number. The islands have the status of nature parks and are home to 32 different bird species and a rich plant and animal life consisting of snakes, among others. python, monkeys, reptiles and turtles.
The waters around the islands are world famous among diving enthusiasts due to the incredible underwater landscapes characterized by colossal, soft granite formations at depths from two meters down to 30 meters. The best diving months are from December to May, where the weather is best and the water clearest.
We sailed out to the second largest island, Ko Miang, where
there are even great opportunities to snorkel and see white and
brown corals and colorful fish along the beach on the west side of
the island. A bit like diving into the break with fish they once had
At Ko Miang, one of the princesses of the royal family also has a holiday residence, and when I was there with the Viking of the Orient, Troels Kløvedal's famous ship, the "Northern Captain" lay at anchor in the same bay. Little Dannebrog fluttered from the rig.
We watched it as it was getting evening, and we got a gin and tonic as the sun set over the Bay of Bengal, eating off the sweet, green oranges pronounced "thai" in Thai.