Touring the Grand Palace to Stepping into a Kick Boxing Ring in the Slums of Bangkok

The Grand Palace, that Cecile and I had seen before is Bangkok’s most famous landmark and is spectacular in every sense of the word. It was also not surprising to learn it is considered the spiritual heart of the Thai Kingdom. Built in 1782 it has been the home of the King, The Royal court and the administrative seat of Government. It continues to draw a record number of people from all over the world to see it’s amazing architecture, intricate detail and absolutely stunning craftsmanship. It simply takes your breath away. 

After a colorful canal boat ride, a Pad Thai cooking demonstration and lunch by a lovely Thai woman, her husband and family at their home that sits on the edge of the Bangkok canal; we had optional events to participate in. 

One of the options I chose was to visit a kick boxing training camp called 96 Penang Gym located within the infamous “Klong Toey” slums. The attraction for me was to see all aspects of Thai life and to witness what a dedicated Thai boxing coach was doing to keep young kids off the streets. 

When myself, and three other guests (Cecile stayed behind) arrived at the gym by Tuk-Tuk, our guide Lin introduced us to the coach who calls himself “Mr Thai.” During a Q & A, the 50 year old veteran of the sport told us about the basics and said he began training at the age of 10. He fought professionally from the ages of 20 to 30 before retiring. Two of his students were currently training for an event the next day. He then demonstrated with a student from each weight class how he trains them.

At the invitation of Mr Thai, an award winning coach and a former champion in the Thai boxing world, I stepped into the ring to spar with him. After I left the gym, all I could think of was if I only had a few more lessons “I could have been a contender.” 😎😎😎

Postscript: The charming young man I am posing with named Bangpleenol is in fact a contender and has won a 50,000 Baht purse ($2,000) and will soon be fighting for over a $3000 purse. Also cover story photo of him.

Note: To view a video clip of me sparring with the coach check out this Facebook link:…/…/10156023075076668…