Night night – Off the grid – Primal – Vultures – Belgians – Bestivity – Smash – Hurricane – Pop – Study of Violence – Poof – Turn.
The boat approached the beach, my
beach, and everybody was unscathed. Boozed up good, and still full of life and
laughter. Tiger went ahead. I didn’t know how drunk I was. Momo had given me
and Pikey stronger drinks. We made jokes he wanted us as his boyfriends too.
Thing was strong as fuck. But we downed it like champs.
The after effect wasn’t pretty. Not on me. No. Far from it. I handle my liquor, like a boss. No. The damage was on something else. There was a big plastic box full of keys and phones and valuables. The whole cruise my phone stayed inside as Tiger shot all if not everything, on his iPhone and GoPro. I took my phone out, and walked with it, in my hand, towards shore.
Then I tripped. Face forward, then my whole body, cos I was feeling the liquor effects. My orientation was pretty shot I have to admit. I went under. But so did my hands. So did my phone. And it was night night. My phone never saw daylight after that. After this incident I was fully off the grid. No phone, no internet, no nothing.
It was dinnertime already and we ate at this cozy place beside our resort. It was on the side of the main road, if you could call it a road or main. Since the streets of Phi Phi were like alleys. With restaurants and shops lining them. This restaurant was one of them. It seemed like a mini food court, and the tables were scattered, in between exotic plant pots. The waiters walked to your candlelight tables, to and from the bar which functioned as a food delivery point.
At dinner Tiger was nervous and talked about his upcoming fight and asked me if I’d join. I said I would. He didn’t have the stomach to eat but had a burger anyway. He said it was all he needed. Fats, proteins and carbs. I was fine. Not nervous. I was unphased really. I drank a nice lassi drink, mango, and had some protein.
Beside us girls were being lit, and into us, and asked if we’d take their picture. We talked about this and that, and the reggae bar, and our upcoming fight. They were a bit groupie and said they’d come and see the fight. They didn’t really get the part that we’d fight too. They just love the spectacle, I guess.
We paid cash and left the restaurant, and took a left, and then a right. Snaking our way into the labyrinth of small alleys and stands, to the Reggae Bar. Mind you the streets were buzzing with life and the vibe was perfectly safe. Even though it was almost pitch black. I’ve been to many places in the world and never felt as safe as then.
As with most Thai bars and clubs and restaurants, the Reggae Bar was completely open. A statue of a Muay Thai fighter stood by the opening. It was fighting another one. There was a line being formed, people huddled up near the bar. We joined and smushed in, asking if there was a cover fee. There wasn’t, but you had to buy a drink. Tiger had a Long Island, and I a vodka Red Bull.
I’d been drinking for so long, and so many days, five or more I think, that I didn’t even feel the buzz of a new drink anymore. I thought I was perfectly fine.
We left the crowd, who were just gazing the ring from afar. We took a look up close. The thing was huge. And placed higher. It was your typical Muay Thai kickboxing ring. Just a square, four sides, with red ropes all around, and a canvas to stand and fight on. I hadn’t seen a ring in a long time. The thing oozed of primal energy.
The atmosphere in the bar was dense. So thick you could cut it. I could sense that in the bar there were loads of aggressive people. Not how you’d consider ‘aggressive’ normally. The random brawler going full ham on somebody, just cos their sleeve got wet with beer. No not that. Sure, those guys were a plenty. But what I’m talking about is more stoic. Cold and calculated. I was talking about all the fighters. They sat on the left side, on tables, having a drink. Or straight ahead, at back, on benches, scoping their competition who had entered the ring. And some were just walking about, to and fro. Being all bro and ballsy and brass, with their brothers. Hey, hoo, ah, just loud primal noises.
Lots of Moroccan and Algerian boys. Slavs too. Big Caucasian boys, guessing UK boys or Muricans. And of course the local vicious Muay Thai fighters. They had good physiques man. Cut. Totally ripped to the bone. Sinewy. All tense, with stored explosive energy. Ready at any given moment, to bite your head off.
I loved every second of it. The arena, the animalistic healthy rival animosity, the fighters, the warrior spirit being kept alive. Tiger was enjoying it too, mixed with the still present nerves. I was fine, cool and collected, sipping my vodka.
We’d met two Belgians on the Boat to Kho Phi Phi, who’d join us at the Reggae Bar. They texted me, and I told them we’d sit at back. On the left, at the tables, near the bar, sat the two girls from earlier. They looked like vultures. All with smiles and anticipation. Waiting for the meat to fall. They were cute but we didn’t vibe and I forgot about them and focused on the fight.
We sat and watched some epic fights. First just to get into the zone, I guess, and second, just to have some fun, and watch the competition. First up was some kind of exhibition match between Thai locals. Tiger said it was fake, and the punches were telegraphed, pulled, and exuberantly ostentatious. I didn’t see it, but Tiger has a background in martial arts and used to be a MMA fan. He did some years of boxing and these days did some kickboxing and Muay Thai. Before I came to Thailand, he took some private lessons North of Thailand.
Third reason we were having a look was to see how the whole Reggae Bar thing worked. How did random tourist fight one another? The first fight came on. It was two white boys. One was huge, wore a wifebeater and looked like your typical bro. A Chad. I think they came from the UK, or America. Thing is one of the dudes had boxing experience. Years, he said. Tiger asked him. The other had some fight experience too. He was lanky and long, had mass on ‘em, but didn’t look like a fighter. I wasn’t expecting much.
I was right. They were absolutely bonkers crazy. No technique whatsoever. Boxing experience? Some fight experience? My ass. They were just doing superman punches, and bolo punches, and wild swings all over the places. Jumping around the ring. There, and then there, and then a wild right haymaker. Which missed. And then the other guy did the exact same thing. It was entertaining that was for damn sure.
One thing that fight cleared up was how the system works. You walk up to the ring. Ref comes down, and gets you. Takes you up. Sets you center stage, middle of the ring. Raises your hand. Hooa. You’re all shivery, torso naked, and in shorts. Scowl on your face. One hand high, clutched by a tanned Thai hand, a gest, daring others to enter the arena. Your other hand low, by your side, clenched, in anticipation of the bestivity which is about to take place. You’re not done yet. Your breathing is heavy, as a an opponent stands up, from amidst the crowd. It’s on. Your opponent gets in his shorts, and goes up the steps, and in the ring and on the canvas.
Tiger and I got it, and we sipped Long Island and vodka. Up next was a Moroccan looking fella. He was lean and mean. The definition of it. He looked not to be trifled with. A street boy. A scrapper, survivalist. He did some shadowboxing, and you could tell by his technique and physique he was a seasoned kickboxer. Lots of boys from my hometown, Rotterdam, look just like the guy. So secretly I was rooting for him.
His opponent was a dark tank. A black man, seemingly solely made out of muscle. He was just a hulk. Wider than a closet, but not very tall. Maybe six something, barely. The Moroccan had length and reach going for him, lanky. But this man, I don’t know where he was from. He was a presence. A force of nature. Dark and doom inducing. He said he had no fight experience. Technically. He must’ve been some kind of brawler, as his face and eyes captured stories in their stoic expression. When you know you just know. And I could tell this man had done something, in regards to battle.
I sipped my drank, saw the two gentlemen get in the ring, and I hit the loo. Off to the right at back, beside the bar. Then I came back and the fight was already over.
The Moroccan had lost. The tank had run over him. The fight ended in fractions of seconds, Tiger said. It’d gone to the bathroom, and then back, and bam, fight over. Just like that. Tiger said the Moroccan used his finesse and skill and reach. Kept the tank at a distance, at bay. Checked. Straight kicks and jabs did the job. This went for a bit. Then the Tank flipped a switch. Went berserk.
Tank charged Moroccan, like a bull a matador. Moroccan could no longer keep him at bay. The jabs and kicks weren’t functioning as a proper cape anymore. The Tank saw red. And his flurry of savage haymakers were a hurricane. Moroccan had no chance. The storm of rotating fists and arms blew right through the Moroccan’s defense. He tried to block. But alas, the gale of strikes burst right through.
The Moroccan went knockout.
Ref called it. Fight was over. By the time I got back the Moroccan was sitting, on a chair, right in front of me, by the steps of the ring. Clutching his shoulder, and his team was standing around him. The light and shadows made the scene like a Caravaggio.
Tank was gone. Like a dark cowboy, riding into town. Dealing doom, and then riding off. Devastating. We continued to watch the aftermaths of the war which had been waged. The Moroccan tapped his shoulder, carefully like it was on fire, and his coach, a local Thai, had hold of his arm.
The Moroccan his shoulder was dislocated.
What a horror.
You could see it popped out. Fuck. Tiger looked away, and bystanders did the same. To my left sat some Swedes, smoking Marlboro. They couldn’t stand the sight either.
I didn’t flinch. I looked. Not for amusement of another man’s wounds of war. No. For study. For observation. I did it to get acquainted with violence. Being intimate with violence. Up close, nice and cozy. My shoulder never got popped out like that. I have been in the hospital. Seven stitches, two scars. I have a high pain tolerance. And any time something bad happens. Something horrible, and dangerous, and violent. I take a step forward. I look at it. Study it. Familiarize myself with it.
That could be me.
Funny thing, I was fighting that night. That could be me in just a few moments.
I’ll never forget this Moroccan. For me he was the victor of that bout. The Tank won the battle. But the Moroccan won the war. The coach tried to put the shoulder back in place. Didn’t take. He was jerking, and rotating, and shoving, and pushing. Didn’t take. And it showed on the poor fella’s face. He wanted to scream out. But didn’t. Any normal human being would’ve passed out already. But he didn’t. The coach got up. Tried it from a different angle, the side. Jerking, pushing, shoving. Massaging it in. Didn’t take. The Moroccan just shook his head. Mouthed inaudibles, and waving his other hand. It’s okay. Never mind. I can walk. Let’s go. Let’s get this take care of somewhere else.
The Moroccan taught me a valuable lesson.
Even when you lose you can be a champion.
Just look at the guy. His shoulder dislocated, and the coach trying to put it back but failing, and the guy doesn’t make a sound. He was clenching his teeth, grinding them, squinting away the pain, as if it was dust in the eyes. Blink and it’s gone. But only it wasn’t. And this study that I did, maybe sick for some, was absolutely necessary for me, to become more intimate with violence. What it can do, the doom it brings. The repercussions of slugging it out. Mind you, neither one was mortally harmed. The Moroccan will live. The Tank drones on.
It also learned me a lot about martial arts. One big takeaway here. Overwhelming force can annihilate the best technique. The Moroccan was a skilled fighter. Kickboxer. Some years in training, some fights had, pretty combat ready. Then this dark hurricane walks in. Blows him away. Poof. Just like that. Like it was nothing. And it was. It was nothing. Fight lasted shorter than a minute.
Tiger looked at me, as I was doing this study of violence.
He stood up.
‘Fury,’ he said. ‘Okay, I’m going in. It’s my turn.’
I have been chatting with Fury on Twitter for quite some time, one day are paths shall cross and we will shake hands – then have a cigar and a drink together.
Till then I thank him for posting a bit of book here, Did you Enjoy it?
Then you can get it here LLT