F.Y.I.: Thailand loves soccer. Or “football,” as they (and the rest of the world) refer to it. And in Chonburi, they loved their city’s football club. A lot. I mean, it was almost like the whole city (180,000 population, so obviously not everyone) would show up for their home games and would be rockin’ the team’s jersey, the colors on their faces, and other paraphernalia.
I’m not joking. Look at this guy with whom I obviously needed to pose:
Matt and I decided to go to one of their home games with other fellow foreign teachers. First thing was first: tickets. The cheapest they had, of course. I’m not a big soccer/football fan myself, so it wasn’t a huge deal to me where we sat.
Then, we watched some Chonburi Football dancers dance, cheer, and sing outside of the stadium. All in Thai, so naturally, we were clueless as to what was going on, but nonetheless bobbed our heads to the music.
After we noticed people finally flocking to the entrance of the arena, we followed suit. And purchased some large Chang beers to drink on the way to our seats, since alcohol is not allowed within the stands. Definitely a good idea. On our way, the national anthem was blasting through some unseen speakers, so, as everyone is forced to do whenever the anthem is played anywhere, we all stood still with our arms at our sides and made sure not to speak. Afterwards, we poured our beers down our gullets and headed up the stairs to our seats.
Well, we couldn’t see much, unfortunately. But that was okay. We weren’t paying much attention anyway because Matt and I were chatting with a couple who were foreign teachers from another school in Chonburi. They were super nice and, incidentally, not very interested in soccer either!
When Chonburi scored a goal, the crowd went wild. I mean, seriously, wild. They would scream, bang on drums, throw confetti, wave alarmingly large Chonburi FC flags, and as a group, shout cheers. It was fantastic! I’ve never been so excited watching a sporting event before!
The crowd going wild after a Chonburi goal (notice in panorama: in the front, two new foreign teacher friends [the girl’s hand is missing because of panoramic failure], Matt, then Paul, and a couple of other people who tagged along. And Cholla is taking a panorama to my right!)
Chonburi ended up tying the game at 2!
So, after the game, there were parties in the street next to the stadium. While almost all of the foreign teachers from our school went home since it was a Sunday and we had school the following morning, we stayed. We ended up drinking beer with one of our foreign teachers, those foreign teachers we had just met, and a large number of strange Thai men!
We were talking with everyone, drinking, and most of all, taking pictures because we were all white and Thai people love taking pictures with white people.
We stayed out and celebrated the Chonburi tie for several hours. It was a wonderful display of Thai relaxation and fun. The Thai people we were drinking with were so kind to us and included us in their wonderful celebrations.
Did I mention that they have a minivan/bus dedicated to the Chonburi Football Club?
It was an exciting, relaxing, and fun-filled evening… until the Thai men grew more and more intoxicated and wanted more and more pictures with me and the other female foreign teacher. Then, we decided to walk back to our apartment, which was an hour walk from the stadium.
So, Matt, Paul (the other foreign teacher from our school), and I stumbled back home, waltzing through the darkened streets of Chonburi.
Locals know how to have a good time and are extremely welcoming and friendly. Looking back, I would have to say that it was one of our favorite evenings in Thailand.
Have you ever celebrated anything with locals from a foreign country? Or even spent any amount of time with locals that made a hefty impact on you?