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Our Thai Adventure

By Jane Mosley

I have been asked to share this story on our website from when we traveled to Thailand. the story had to be condensed to fit into a program for a fight we were promoting. I'm not even going to try to duplicate the mind-set I was in when I wrote it almost four years ago and edit it in anyway. I'm including it in its original state.

“You guys wanna go to Thailand?” that was a question asked by Hope Vitellas to my husband, Tony, and me in November of 2000. Hope and Tony had thought about going to Thailand. in fact, Tony had mentioned it several times. I just never thought I would be going! but, we started making plans. Things got very interesting when Hope found out she was invited to participate as a representative for the United States in the 2001 international muay thai tournament in Bangkok. Lek’s friend, Tua, helped us plan and deserves much thanks.

We decided to go to Chiang Mai first— that way Hope and Tony could train at the lanna camp and we could also have a vacation.

When we arrived in Bangkok it was around 1:00am. we were getting our luggage, exchanging our money and looking for a cab. it didn’t take us long to realize the humidity in Bangkok likes to act as the director of travel and tourism and greet you first thing. we flew to Chiang Mai the next morning and was greeted with cooler weather and lower humidity.

Our first cultural experience was called a tuk tuk, which is a 3 wheeled motorcycle taxi. it was a cultural experience until we also realized it could be a death defying experience. Traffic lights and street lines in Thailand are just to make the tourist feel better. No one stops at the lights or stays within the lines. however, Americans could learn a thing or two about driving in Thailand. Yes, the experience tests your bowels, as well as your blood pressure medication, but there is also no road rage. As you find yourself careening up the rear end of a moped with a family of 5 and their groceries on it, as you pass them, you smile and wave and they do the same. and you continue on your journey.

The people in Thailand are extremely friendly. they like to get an idea of your personality before they reveal their own. but once (and if) that barrier is broken you can feel the genuine gracious nature of their culture. They will do whatever they can to help you as the three of us found out when one of the tuk tuk drivers borrowed his parent’s car to take us to a fight in another city. But, don’t be fooled by their generous nature, they will not be taken advantage of and can sense a con quickly. Hope started training, we visited temples and a silk factory, Hope trained hard, we even ran up a mountain leading to the temple, Doi Suthep, and Hope continued to train hard.

We went to the night bazaar, similar to a flea market, where everything is for sale. At the night bazaar you need to bargain for everything — it’s expected. They have thai boxing every night with the same 6 people. These guys fight twice a night and with the same intensity at each match. The endurance and spirit of each one were an inspiration.

Hope flew back to Bangkok to meet carla, one of her students that had came over to help with the fight training. Tony and I took the train from Chiang Mai. that was a great way to get familiar with different aspects of Thailand. we saw workers in rice fields, monkeys walking down the streets, statues and carvings in the mountains, temples and beautiful scenery.
when we went to the national stadium in Bangkok, we found drinks are served in large plastic bags with handles and a straw. part of the reason for this is the safety of the athletes in the stadium (think cleveland browns stadium after a questionable referee call).

We decided to go to Lumpini park and take an early morning run and maybe work out. taking into account the humidity and heat, as well as anticipating a crowd, we got up a little earlier than usual and got to the park at 5:30am. At the entrance to the park was a platform with a huge set of speakers and a crowd of about 100 doing aerobics. Walking through the park, there were hundreds of groups of about 10 people each doing Tai Chi, meditation, aerobics and dance. there were also many people walking, jogging, and doing sprints through the park on their own. Did I say we were anticipating a crowd???? Tony and Hope found a gazebo and did some light pad work and sparring. after a few minutes a crowd gathered to watch. When Tony and Hope were done, they drew a round of applause and were thanked for putting on their “show”. Even though Hope was tired and considered it “training”, those watching respected seeing Muay Thai practiced in its traditional style. that was pretty cool.

We went to both Lumpini stadium arid Ratchadamnoen stadium to watch Muay Thai fights. Foreigners are escorted in and you sit in the first few rows. I’m not sure which was more interesting — the fights or the men frantically gambling in the stands.

Traffic in Bangkok is a lot like any other big city. It’s much busier on the roads in Bangkok, but the thrills and daredevil driving wasn’t the same as in Chiang Mai. we saw policemen stand and stop traffic already on the freeway in the mornings so cars could get on the freeway and the side street traffic would continue to flow. There are a lot more cars and less tuk tuks and scooters and the roads are more maintained.

We ate almost every meal every day in a small restaurant down the street from our hotel. The woman who cooked spoke very little english and her husband spoke broken english, but good food is good food, and just the smiles on our faces and the sound of “mmmmmm” is universal. When Tony and I went in to tell them we were leaving the next morning and how much we enjoyed their food and service, they gave us gifts. proving once again the Thai hospitality and kindness.
Hope fought in the tournament and took her vacation. Tony and I headed home.

The next time I may be asking Tony and Hope “you guys wanna go back to Thailand”?

Jane Mosley

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