I woke up at 5am this morning so I could shower and make sure I had packed everything. As much as it was a sensible idea, I really wish I had set the alarm half an hour later. We got to the bus station (thanks to Aum calling us a taxi) and waited until our bus arrived. Just before 7am Kate and I went in search of pig sticks only to find meatballs and hot dogs. We settled on banana muffins and chocolate milk from a service station type shop there. I did see some chocolate Koalas but resisted as I wanted to go to sleep on the coach.
When the coach arrived twenty minutes later, it definitely surpassed our expectations. It had air conditioning, we were given a bottle of water for the journey, there was leg room and even curtains if you wanted to block out the sun.
We weren’t entirely sure how far away Buriram was, but if we did go pass it by mistake we decided that we would just continue to Pattaya and spend the weekend there instead!
Five hours later we arrived in Buriram and caught a taxi to our hotel. Our room was a double twin and felt like an apartment in comparison to the other places we’ve stayed! It was wonderful, the pillows were soft, and we had air conditioning and a fan! There was a bath, a warm shower, a sink and free toilet roll, towels and bottled water. But as much as it was amazing, it had a big problem with it: the wifi signal was terrible in our room. Firstly we couldn’t connect to wifi, which resulted in me going downstairs, explaining (in English) to the receptionist and getting a password for another network. As much as it connected, the signal petered out by the time I got to our room. Although I did get a reasonable signal on my bed, the best place for the wifi was underneath the rooter on the stairs.
Once we had wifi we then figured out where we wanted to go and had the hotel order us a taxi to Buriram football stadium. Why? Because we were going to see a Thai football match played by one of Thailand’s best team (Buriram United if you did not know). When we arrived, a guy immediately came up to us and asked us what we were doing and where we were from. He was a doctor, taking a day off to visit the castle. He helped us buy the right tickets and then waved us off. Now we had our tickets, we just had to get some of the merchandise. Eilidh and I committed and bought a home t-shirt (did you know there’s two different football t-shirts – one for home and one for away??). Hannah and Kate gave in and bought a scarf each, so between us we looked as if we supported the team.
We then located the nearby Mcdonalds and had a long lunch making full use of their wifi. After I had eventually finished my meal and they their ice creams (after their meal), we walked over to Buriram Castle. Behind the football stadium there was a small centre with markets and food places that lead to Buriram Castle, one of five castles in the province.
This castle is said to be from the Khmer civilisation. It was great and refreshing to experience some of the history and culture of Thailand without going to a temple.
After taking photos by the castle we wandered through the market and decided it was time to call a taxi. We thought there would be a taxi rank somewhere by the stadium, but instead were given a taxi number to call instead. Needless to say the words ‘taxi’, ‘now’, and ‘I-mobile stadium’ didn’t get us very far. We ended up calling Aum and he called us a taxi to come to the front entrance of the stadium. So far it had been half an hour since we first called a taxi. We took shelter at the entrance under a tent where some traffic police were. They also called us a taxi and waved one over, not after taking photos with us and checking the taxi driver’s credentials. In total it took us an hour to order a taxi.
By now it was 5pm and as much as I wanted to sleep, we only had half an hour to get ready before we needed to leave for the game, which started at 6pm. After a coffee and a quick warm shower we were in a taxi (with the same driver) by 5.35pm and on our way to the stadium. When we arrived we were desperate for a Chang beer, as the afternoon had been quite stressful. We bought a can each only to be told that we couldn’t bring any drinks into the seated area. This lead to us trying to down cans of beer as quickly as possible so that we could see the game. I only managed half a can before giving up. I resolved to buy a smaller one at half time.
When we were shown to our seats the game had already begun, but no one had scored yet so it didn’t feel like we had missed anything (apart from the national anthem). The game was amazing.
We were next to the part of the stand where they were standing, jumping and shouting chants. I can’t imagine having enough energy to do that for an entire game, but they did. I understood some of the simpler chants like ‘Go, go Buriram’ and ‘Go! Go!’, and the booing. There was one chant that sounded faintly like ‘the animals went in two by two’ but I have no idea what they were singing. By half time we had already seen a goal by Buriram United. They went crazy when it happened.
At half time we went down quite quickly in the hope that the remaining Chang we had left with security was still there. Thankfully we were able to recover it. I managed the second half of my can without issue, Eilidh and Kate however had bought two cans each and resorted to using straws to finish the cans before the break finished. We were a little late going back up, but we did finish the cans.
The second half was far more exciting, the opposite team got close to scoring a few times, but Buriram’s goalie did an amazing job defending the goal. Buriram did manage to score though. They managed to score two more times during the match, and once during extra time! When they had scored 4-0, the fans spread a flag across the stands and ran it over our side of the stadium. It was a crazy minute where we had no idea what was going on, but still hilarious.
After winning by a massive landslide, we walked through the rain to the market place and sat in a place called The Library Café. I loved it. As much as the others had banned me from going to read anything, I could still stare in awe. We got a post-match treat (brownies and a mocha for me, Hannah had a hot chocolate and shared a brownie with Eilidh, Kate and EIlidh tried a green tea latte – emphasise on tried!). We ended up video calling Aum as we realised it was only a week and six days until we go to see him. It was great chatting to him and telling him about our day.
We finished our drinks fairly quickly after the call and strolled back through the market. I ended up buying a dress after successfully bartering with the stall owner. We then went back to Mcdonalds and waited for a taxi to arrive. This time the hotel owners called us and asked if we wanted a taxi. This time it only took 30 minutes to get back to the hotel. Much to Eilidh’s delight we also met some Scottish people in Mcdonalds. It was a nice reminder of home.
Once we arrived at the hotel the warm shower and pyjamas were very welcome. We didn’t go to sleep immediately though, we ended up sitting underneath the wifi rooter on the stairs for at least 40 minutes. It wasn’t a great connection, but at least I could send messages!