I was shooting my Vlog this evening on my run and was surprised by this kind of amazing sight at 4:27 of this video, when I happened upon a couple drivers kicking Muay Thai pads in front of the FamilyMart, right in the middle of a street scene.
A group of motorcycle taxi drivers are always gathered outside of the FamilyMart, basically waiting to pick up fares. You’ll see motorcycle taxis all over the place in Bangkok and here in Pattaya (there don’t seem to be any in Chiang Mai, as far as I ever saw in the 2 years I lived there) and they tend to haunt the same corners and in front of stores in little groups, like maybe it’s systematized in some way. They’re a “type” to be sure, just as taxi drivers in New York or any big city share a common theme between them, and for the most part they’re really nice. I get a lot of support from them when I pass by in my Muay Thai shorts. Usually they want to ask me where I train, if I fight – if they’ve already asked me those questions before they’ll ask me if I won – why I can speak Thai, etc. They’re also just slightly seedy or unsavory to some degree, they can give you a good stare, which is maybe a matter of class and identity – one that fits into the Muay Thai world. But one of my favorite things is seeing a “Bar Girl” (that’s a lady of the night, if we can just keep going on polite phrases here) on the back of a motorcycle taxi, usually sitting side-saddle in a short dress with impossibly high heels dangling off the side and blonded hair whipping in the wind. They go together, the Bar Girl and the Motorcycle Taxi Driver, like a Pattaya brother and sister in a way. You see this pair everywhere.
I walk, run, and drive by these guys several times per day and see them sprawled out on their bikes, on seats, chatting it up with the ladies who work in the FamilyMart, etc. But I’ve never seen them doing Muay Thai before, nothing close. This is a new development and one that, if I see it again, I might engage with in a small way. It’s pretty awesome. The kids who were the “night security” but really just parking attendants at my apartment building in Chiang Mai would practice Muay Boran moves from movies (picture Tony Jaa stuff) at midnight in the parking garage to pass time. It’s totally the western martial arts fantasy that everyone in the country knows, practices, or does Muay Thai… and it’s something that actually kind of happens sometimes.
Living in a Hong Kong film.