Thai Sport With A Difference
Thai people are known for their agility when it comes to sport, but the animals are rather good too. Read about some Thai sport with a difference.
This week saw the annual buffalo festival which has been going for 140 years. It is held in Chon Buri province, this is just south of Bangkok en route to the popular beach resort of Pattaya.
Thai farmers swap their paddy fields for the race course. They race down a dusty track on prized water buffalo, vying for glory in a decades-old racing contest. The event was initiated as a way to express gratitude to buffalos after working for farmers throughout the year. It is timed to celebrate the rice harvest. It gives the farmers and the buffalo the chance to unwind after a tiring time harvesting the rice.
Younger Thai’s joined in the fun too. In rural parts of Thailand they are also used as a way of getting the young children to school. Above they look like a lively animal but they are normally quite docile, walking around at a sedate pace or up to their neck in muddy water.
Elephants are held with the utmost respect in Thailand and like buffalo, they have been used in daily life for centuries. Since its inception in 2001, the King’s Cup Elephant Tournament has built a reputation as a not-to-be-missed event that attracts people from all around the world to enjoy a unique week of sport. The welfare of elephants used in the tournament is paramount, with strict rules in place to ensure that the pachyderms are well cared for at all times. Thanks to Thailand’s advanced micro-chipping programme for all legal domesticated elephants and research into DNA tagging, they impose a “no micro-chip, no game” rule. This guarantees that all elephants who play have been domestically bred and not captured from the wild or smuggled in from neighbouring countries.
King’s Cup Elephant Polo is a four-day festival of events dedicated to raising awareness and supporting elephants. It is held in Hua Hin which is a popular beach resort for westerners. It is one of the largest sporting events to occur in Thailand and a huge charity event to invest in resources for elephants. The sport is polo, but on the majestic backs of elephants rather than horses. These elephants are a proud cultural representation of Thailand’s history and this festival pay homage to these highly respected animals.
Below you can watch some of the action.