First time for us in May, which is in advance of the rainy season. However this is often the real hot period, where temperatures of 40C are common, it’s not just the direct heat but the humidity and no breeze that is the sucker of energy. However we were very lucky….. temperature in direct sunlight still very obsessive but everyone hides in the shade so minutes before kick off the place looks mostly empty.
Rajamangala is not a glamour stadium filled with facilities, it gives a good view from most places, You could connect it to some of the older European stadiums like Stuttgard, in the shads it fill fast, a 6pm start is sensible the locals just won’t come out in the heat of the day, all matches here are played in the evening.
There were a few promotional stands close to the ground, Rajamangala is the biggest stadium in Thailand, with 58,000 capacity, it’s in a University district of Rampkamheang which is not served well by public transport, the main road to the front is always congested. I now live at the other side of the city so the route was via a taxi and one bails out about a kilometer from the ground to jump on the back of a motor bike taxi for the last few minutes. the journey time for me would have been about the same as someone living local to the stadium.
Thailand has its issues as some of them are really unsatisfactory to western eyes, but in truth the majority of people here are friendly. I can honestly say I walk around the whole city even at night and feel safe, not that I could say that about London.
The game itself was very low key as you would expect, we selected a very young team for the first half and it coped very well, the Thai all Stars gave a fair account of themselves also, it’s a chance to shine and get noticed. Our goal was well crafted a slick move out to the right, followed by a low cross and met first time by Solanke, actually very well finished.
the game was entertaining with the locals raising the volume every time Hazard or Costa got the ball. A few chances either end and it was a surprise that 1-0 was the final score. the turnout difficult to be sure but 30,000 appeared to be a fair assessment.
The only down side is getting away after the game, it’s not like Stamford Bridge with its wide choice of bars and eating establishments, down town Rampkamheang has a few small shopping malls with same places in all of them, or it’s the little side street Thai noodle bar, but wandering around in that heat is not recommended.
Really a big thanks to Chelsea, these games are so important to the locals and us expats too, its great PR and the clubs stay of 3/4 days is a calender event, so much is done locally for the youngsters, the official supporters club here is fantastic they do all round year events.
Just one final note… my partner got scolded by a Chelsea official for wearing an illegal Yokohama sponsored shirt…. all good natured but had me laughing… I’ve even seen Turkish Airlines ones too.
Posted by Voltaire
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