Mindy and Ligeia were so excited to go to their first soccer game in Chiang Mai and it was Mindy’s first soccer game ever! Even before entering what is called the 700 Year Stadium we met their mascot, a tiger…
…who, much like we were used to at other sports events, seemed to have fun during the game.
Tickets could be purchased for 40, 60 or 80 baht ($1.30, $2 or $2.60). Not knowing what this all meant in terms of seating, we opted for the 80 baht tickets. This meant that our left hands were stamped on the way in with a stamp like at a nightclub that said “80”. We couldn’t figure out why this was important, however, as there were no assigned seats and no one checked the tickets to see that we were in the correct area.
So we opted for seats near the goal for Chiang Mai. As you can see, the stadium was not full at all.
There were sections of it, however, where every seat seemed to be taken:
These sections were very lively, with huge flags, megaphones, drums etc. All night long they were singing, dancing and chanting.
Things got very exciting when our team scored a goal. Everyone reached into a bag only to bring out confetti, accompanied by cheers. Several fans gave us a thumbs us and a big smile, breaking the language barrier.
We noticed that there were no vendors walking throughout the stadium selling beer, hotdogs and the like. Instead, all the vendors (and there were many) were lined up just outside the stadium. So you had to leave the stadium to get something to eat or drink. Unlike stadiums back home, the prices here were very reasonable, 60 cents for french fries, for example.
The Story of the Magic Stretcher
Can you see the silver stretcher at this man’s feet in the picture below? Well it might look unassuming, but it is actually a magic stretcher. We’ve never seen anything like it! Soccer is clearly a very tough sport because the men fall and get injured a LOT. We saw men swooning left, right and center, having been triggered by a push, tripping, a mosquito bite (they must have been out in full force last night!), or even a mean look from an opposing player. On a few occasions we witnessed players make contact with another player only to think about it for a good five seconds before remembering that this would be a good opportunity to take a break – and fall. BUT, there is a cure for these near-death experiences! A team of men wearing pink shirts would go to the aid of the latest victim carrying a “magic stretcher”. Each time this stretcher made an appearance on the field, the injured were suddenly cured and sprung back to life… as if the injury had never even happened. Time and time again we witnessed this phenomenon. It got us thinking that perhaps we should be using the Magic Stretcher for a better use, in hospitals, on the battlefields! The possibilities here are endless! As for us, we feel so lucky to have seen this event that was nothing short of one miracle after another.
After the game there were all kinds of things to watch, including fireworks, what looked like a candlelight vigil, players making laps around the field and music playing in their honor.
Just as we left the stadium, it started to rain, which got stronger and stronger with every step. Being about 5 kilometers away from home, we decided to flag down a song taew (shared taxi). We began to walk in the direction of home and as the rain picked up our urgency to find a taxi got stronger. But none passed us so we walked…and walked…and walked. Thirty minutes later and still far from home we had resigned to the fact that we were soaking wet and there was nothing that could be done about it. Eventually we saw what looked like a taxi drive by but when we flagged it down, it turned out to be one of the vendors, most likely from the game, driving home. The back of the “taxi” had all this stuff in it but there was space enough for the two of us so we asked anyway if he would take us home. Forty baht later ($1.30) we were home.
It was a fun event and we both said we’d like to go back again, maybe even in a couple weeks. Oh and for those of you who might be interested, the final score was 2 to 2 against Paknampho.
Stay tuned for more Thai adventures!
Mindy and Ligeia :):)