Photo essay : Sunday afternoon Muay Thai

Two fighters pray before the fight starts during a Muay Thai at Chang 7
Two fighters pray before the fight starts during a Muay Thai at Chang 7

Im currently in Bangkok covering the ongoing political situation, yesterday was one of the rare days that i didn’t have anything to cover so i used the chance to document a Muay Thai fight.

I wasn’t too keen on shooting the actual fights rather the atmosphere, the touts & the bookies. Spectators, mainly local men pack themselves into this tiny room, it’s akin to a stock exchange with bookies making hand gestures signalling odds, collecting & handing out cash with the ensuing angry punter demanding he got given incorrect odds. Fighters are blessed and a brutal battle in the ring proceeds. As enthralling as the action is inside the ring it’s equally so on the perimeter.

A Muay Thai fighter or combatant gets talked to by his coach during a Muay Thai or Thai boxing fight at Chang 7
A Muay Thai fighter or combatant gets talked to by his coach during a Muay Thai or Thai boxing fight at Chang 7
A Muay Thai fighter or combatant gets his gloves strapped before a fight by his trainers during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
A Muay Thai fighter or combatant gets his gloves strapped before a fight by his trainers during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
A Muay Thai fighter about to walk into the ring a fight with his trainers during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
A Muay Thai fighter about to walk into the ring with his trainer during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
Spectators and Bookies reading the fight list during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
Spectators read the fight list while a boookie in the background signals odds for the current match during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
View of the ring during a Muay Thai at Chang 7
View of the ring during a Muay Thai at Chang 7
A spectator looks at a piece of paper with the draw card during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
A spectator looks at a piece of paper with the draw card with betting odds written on it during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
Two Muay thai fighters on the ropes during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
Two Muay thai fighters on the ropes during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
Spectators celebrate the victory of a fighter during his Muay thai bout at Chang 7
Spectators celebrate the victory of a fighter during his Muay thai bout at Chang 7
A fighter showing some nerves amongst the crowd before his fight during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
A fighter showing some nerves amongst the crowd before his fight during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
A bookie holds onto a note pad with bets placed during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
A bookie holds onto a note pad with bets placed while standing next to a punter holding onto his cash during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
Men who have placed bets on the fight count their winnings during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
Men who have placed bets on the fight count their winnings during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7

 

Supporter crew of one of the combatants celebrate as their fighter makes contact his opponent during a Muay Thai  fight at Chang 7
Supporter crew of one of the combatants celebrate as their fighter makes contact his opponent during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
A punter exchanges money with a bookie during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
A punter exchanges money with a bookie during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7

 


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You can view more photos here http://tinyurl.com/abr-muay-thai

Where?
This particular fight took place at the Ch7 tv studio, however don’t think you will be entering a fancy studio cause it isn’t, it’s basically a bare concrete building with some metal stands surrounding the ring.
How to get there?
Take the BTS to Mo Chit, walk on the opposite side of queen Sirikit park walk towards Ratchadaphisek Road & turn right at soi Ruam siri mit. It’s about 150meters down the road. It’s not the easiest place to get to but just ask a local for ‘chang 7’ or ‘shadow box’ and they should put you in the right direction
Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 3.00.12 pm

How much & when?

Free…yes, Free Muay Thai in Bangkok!!

Every Sunday at 1pm

By Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

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Shutdown Bangkok, Restart Thailand

Normally the 2nd week of January sees me getting ready to cover the Australian Open Tennis Grand Slam but a few days out from the tournament a change of plans meant I had a totally different assignment in Bangkok. Personally for me it was a welcome change, it had been some time since I last covered something in the field that wasn’t of the sporting variety.

‘Shutdown Bangkok, restart Thailand’ was the motto used by Anti Thai Government protestors from the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC). Protesters closed key intersections in Bangkok, as part of an effort to shut down the city and pressure prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign. Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban of the PDRC had setup Rally Stages at 20 major intersections to disrupt the work of government officials attempting to ‘Paralyse Bangkok’.
The rallies grew to include thousands of people at some points. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra responded by dissolving the House and declaring a state of Emergency on the 21st of January.

While for the most part protests were peaceful, at times it even had a festival feel to it with markets & entertainment, a state of emergency was declared due to increasing attacks at protest sites.These included grenade attacks and drive-by shootings.

On the 19th of January at the Victory Monument site, 28 people were wounded when two grenades were thrown.

Another grenade attack on a protest march on the 19th of January killed one man and reportedly injured 30.
Yingluck called a snap election for February 2 in an attempt to end the crisis that was prompted by a failed attempt in September to introduce an amnesty bill in parliament that would have allowed her brother Thaksin Shinawatra to return from exile without having to serve a two year jail sentence for corruption.

– Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

Anti-Government protesters march in an attempt to shutdown the Government Savings Bank
Anti-Government protesters march in an attempt to shutdown the Government Savings Bank
An Anti-Thai Government protestor poses for a photo as a man walks past using his smart phone. The PDRC supporters have been actively using social media networks and smart phones as a method of communication throughout the Shutdown Bangkok protests.
An Anti-Thai Government protestor poses for a photo as a man walks past using his smart phone. The PDRC supporters have been actively using social media networks and smart phones as a method of communication throughout the Shutdown Bangkok protests.
An unarmed Army officer takes a photo of a office worker posing with an Army officer in front of Sandbags positioned at one of the Skyrail stations in Bangkok.
An unarmed Army officer takes a photo of a office worker posing with an Army officer in front of Sandbags positioned at one of the Skyrail stations in Bangkok.
Antigovernment Protesters Shut Down Bangkok
Anti-Thai government protestors (PDRC) wave the Thai Flag at Victory Monument, one of the many protest sites spread throughout Bangkok.
Antigovernment Protesters Shut Down Bangkok
Anti-Thai government protestors (PDRC) raise their arms in support during a rally at the Victory Monument.
Antigovernment Protesters Shut Down Bangkok
A group of anti-government protestors in an abandoned apartment complex look out for a suspect whom threw an explosive device injuring 30 people during an anti-government street rally on January 17, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand
Antigovernment Protesters Shut Down Bangkok
An Anti-Government protester about to exit a window allegedly housing the suspect who threw an explosive device injuring 30 people during an anti-government street rally on January 17, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand
Antigovernment Protesters Shut Down Bangkok
Anti-Government protestors guard a door of the alledged suspect who threw an explosive device injuring 30 people during an anti-government street rally on January 17, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand
Antigovernment Protesters Shut Down Bangkok
A Anti-Government protestor makes a gesture to the crowd from the roof of the apartment of a suspect who threw an explosive device injuring 30 people during an anti-government street rally on January 17, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand
Antigovernment Protesters Shut Down Bangkok
Anti-Government protestors search a room for arms in a room that was housing the suspect whom threw an explosive device injuring 30 people during an anti-government street rally on January 17, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand
Antigovernment Protesters Shut Down Bangkok
An Army officer inspects the point of impact of a Grenade attack near the Victory Monument protest site.
Antigovernment Protesters Shut Down Bangkok
An Anti-Government security guard holds up a ripped T-Shirt as a result of the grenade attack near a street side vendor in the vicinity of the Victory Monument rally site .The grenade attack reportedly injured 28 people at the protest site at the Victory Monument in Bangkok Thailand
Antigovernment Protesters Shut Down Bangkok
Anti-Government protester security guards run in search for the attacker who used a grenade.The grenade attack reportedly injured 28 people at the protest site at the Victory Monument in Bangkok Thailand
Antigovernment Protesters Shut Down Bangkok
A women makes a peace sign with her hands as she rides a truck driving towards the Government savings bank in an attempt to shutdown the Government Savings Bank in Bangkok Thailand
Antigovernment Protesters Shut Down Bangkok
Anti-Government Protestors cheer and blow whistles at the Royal Thai Police Head quarters in response to an explosive device reportedly injuring as many as 30 people and killing one the previous day during an anti-government street rally in Bangkok, Thailand
Antigovernment Protesters Shut Down Bangkok
Anti-Government supporters lock arms at the front of the Government Savings Bank in an attempt to shut the bank down in Bangkok Thailand.

A full slideshow of the full photo essay can be viewed on my website by clicking the link below

http://abrfoto.photoshelter.com/gallery-slideshow/G0000_RzuVVvUPhw/C0000B5ovC3I8eXw?start=

Lonely Planets : ‘Best in travel 2013’ book

Lonely Planet Best in travel 2013 book at Dymocks
Lonely Planet Best in travel 2013 book at Dymocks

 

While killing some time i walked into a bookshop (yes, they still exist) & came across the usual Lonely planet collection of books & noticed the ‘Best in travel 2013’ book. I knew my work was used in some of the marketing material during the release of the book but didnt think they would use any in the print but they did.
They choose to go with one of my images from the Nawam Maha Perahera in Colombo outside the Gangaramaya Temple near the picturesque Beira Lake.

Kandyan themed drummers walking towards Gangaramaya Temple.
Kandyan themed drummers walking towards Gangaramaya Temple.

So there you go, killing time proved to be useful for once.

Digging through the Archive #1 : Grand Theft Auto Jalalabad

While killing time in Jalalabad waiting for our escort to take us to the Pakistan border, my fixer wanted to have a break & suggested we go and have some tea. Not far from our hotel was the youth park known as Zwanano Park. As customary, there weren’t any women or young girls, just young boys & old men. Large groups of men would sit on the grass conversing, while the children would be playing cricket, shoot pellet guns at balloons or fly kites.

We then came across much to my surprise a video game arcade.  Video game arcades were a preferred pastime of mine in my youth & I decided to walk in & have a play. The video game parlour was no different to any other parlour in the  world, pool tables near the entrance surrounded by the local pool sharks, a guy in his late teens at the counter juggling loose coins, onlookers peering over the shoulders of the players but above all young boys transfixed by the images on the screen as they punish the controls like a heavyweight boxer.

Kids were playing a wide array of game ranging from Donkey Kong, Sonic the Hedgehog, Street Fighter but by far the most popular game was Grand Theft Auto.

Now for those unfamiliar, Grand Theft Auto commonly known as ‘GTA’ is a highly acclaimed & very popular video game franchise that has gained it’s fair share of controversy over the years with both lawmakers & conservatives. Its garnered notoriety for the fact you have to kill civilians, commit crimes such as car jackings & peddle drugs to succeed, all while the game glorifies American gang culture. If there was a video game that symbolised American freedoms this is it, it’s a game which pushes the social & moral boundaries, it features all the vices & sins so vigorously deplored upon by groups such as the Taliban. Grand Theft Auto is to video games as ‘Gansta Rap’ was to music during the late 80’s; it was brash, controversial but embraced by the youth much to the displeasure of family groups & the establishment, yet no one could stop it. So in that respect maybe i shouldn’t have been so surprised to see a once repressed youth happily shooting villains & driving over bad guys while dropping off a kilo of cocaine to the mob boss in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas.

I think what surprised me was how quickly things had changed, it had been only 8 years prior that the Taliban roamed the streets of Jalalabad & would severely punish a young boy for as much as flying a kite or listening to music.  Walking out of that parlour my fixer asked what I thought was so funny, I tried to explain the irony of it all & that these kids playing Grand Theft Auto is quite symbolic in terms of how far his country had come even amongst the backdrop of war, I don’t think he understood but he laughed anyway & that was fine, at the end of the day its all just fun & games…

These images have come from my photo essay titled ‘ Beyond the conflict’, which can be viewed on my website here http://abrfoto.photoshelter.com/gallery-slideshow/G0000ZZ23bNCP_gM/C0000D202HshoVU4?start=

I hope you enjoyed the first of what i hope will be a fortnightly post under the ‘Digging through the Archives’ section of my blog. I intend to pull up old images of mine which may or may not have been seen much publicly but have a interesting story behind them. If you seen any images of mine that you’d like me to discuss, feel free to let me know & i’ll talk about it.