The past couple days have been pretty busy. One of the full-time I Can Read teachers at the Bang Na center got sick and has been out all week. I wish here a speedy recovery, but in the meantime i've been picking up her classes and having fun doing it. This was my second weekend teaching the same kids so they were more comfortable with which made class go a lot smoother. The trip out to Bang Na is a bit of an ordeal. I try and save on cab fare by walking/motorbiking to the skytrain where I go to the end of the line and hop on one of the aforementioned buses. All in all a little over an hour. The return trip is even worse since the bus can get stuck in rush hour traffic. I didn't get all the way home till 9pm friday night! (although I did stop for dinner before getting all the way home.)
Well anyway, the other day my friend Fern called me and said she had tickets to the semifinal round of the Thailand Open, the big tennis tournament going on now. It sounded like an awesome idea since 1) I'd never seen a pro tennis match and 2) I'd been looking something fun to do and 3) I still hadn't seen Fern since I'd returned to Thailand. Perfect! The matches were held at the Impact Arena way north of the city. Technically not even in Bangkok, in Nonthaburi. I got there as fast as I could from Bang Na (far south-east of bangkok) and was just in time to watch the feature match of the day. World Ranked #1 Rafael Nadal play #53 Guillermo Garcia Lopez. Very cool. Like I said, I've never attended a live tennis match before so I can't really comment on how this was any different from a western venue. But there were a few things. There was a small group of people in support of Garcia Lopez. They didn't do much, just shouted 'Lopez" in that silence between the clapping for a point and the serving of the next. Apparently this just wouldn't stand with the Nadal supporters in the house. After "Lopez" there would be a smattering of "Nadal" from around the arena. They would go back and forth for a while. Then once inbetween games there was a crazy man in a ridiculous outfit shouting from up in the stands. Apparently he said something pretty funny since the arena loved it. Then as an exclamation point on his antics, he swung around an enormous prop tennis racket. Some comedy we could all enjoy. Aside from that, there was just some general rowdiness in the audience. Everytime there was a long rally or a winning drop shot or anything out of the ordinary, the fans would start to whoop and holler like crazy. I don't know if that's the same at other matches and the TV just drowns it out or what.
I don't know if this made any news in the US, but Nadal ended up losing the match. The crowd was mainly there to see Nadal play and were very supportive of him as he breezed through his first set. But by the end of the match, I think there was genuine suppport for the underdog and they wanted to see an upset. I've mentioned before about the lack of pro sports here and the only thing to realy watch is Premiere League Soccer. Not only is that the only thing to watch, but all the Thais seem to only care about the top teams. I understand that they have no geographical ties to the league and are free to support whomever they want. There's no good reason not to cheer for the best. Aside from the fact that they're the best. I began to feel that maybe rooting for an underdog, something I once thought universal, was not at all common here. It was the potentially the first point of Thai culture that I found odd and almost irreconcilable. Who cheers for Goliath? That's why it was nice to hear the unassigned patrons of the Impact Arena clapping and stomping and cheering for a #53 to upset a #1.
ps I'm heading 2 hours outside of Bangkok tomorrow to work at my first English Camp. It's a couple days of teaching and playing games with a bunch of kids. I've been told that they're lots of fun. I'll report on all the fun when I get back!