The documentation of the joys and sorrows of life by the tracks in Central Bangkok came about from a conversation with a man who lived there. He invited me into his home, offered me food and drinks, and asked me simply, "Bangkok: happy, no happy?" In that instant, I had an epiphany. Here, in this community situated on a tiny sliver of land, we can find all the ranges of emotions that encompasses the tragedy, beauty, and hope of the human spirit. We can find something of ourselves in them as one people on this earth.
There is poverty here, but there is also happiness and hope; there is the struggle for a better life. The Muay Thai training camps along the tracks at first fascinated me, then led me to continue my journey away from Central Bangkok to explore the lives of these young fighters.
Muay Thai (also known as the Art of the Eight Limbs for the utilization of eight points of their bodies for striking) is ingrained in Thai culture: it is played on every television set, taught in every city and village, and is the salvation of those who have no other means of livelihood. Fighters are trained at an early age under a regimen so brutal that their bodies are rarely able to sustain careers past their twenties. Yet despite what this life demands of them, fighters continue to do so for survival on the most basic of levels. They do it for the body, which is to be fed and sheltered; and they do it for the spirit, which is to be noticed and adored and the attainment of their dreams and desires.