Pattaya City Thailand, Chonburi Buffalo Races

Chonburi Buffalo Races

on the eastern seaboard

I think it is fair to say that there is no shortage of interesting and fun things to do in this part of the world and plenty of them involve interaction with some of Thailand's many interesting animals. Whether it is sitting with a huge tiger for a photo opportunity, riding atop a majestic elephant, swimming with fun loving dolphins or watching with wide eyes as a local snake wrangler teases a fearsome cobra, they all hold enormous fascination for animal lovers from around the world. On a rather less organized level, you can usually find street "vendors"
Chonburi buffalo races in October every year
wandering around Walking Street with large pythons or huge lizards for you to hold and be photographed with, while if those kinds of fearsome and undeniably ugly creatures are your thing then you might also want to visit the crocodile farm. However, there can't be anything more unusual from an "animal experience" point of view than the Chon Buri Buffalo Races.
Buffalo have long held an important place in a traditional, agriculture based Thai society. The fact that as well as being a source of milk and meat, they are hard workers and able to undertake a similar role to a cart-horse has made them an invaluable resource amongst the innumerable farming communities here, while their docile


nature means that they are often also treated as somewhat of a family pet. However, one look at the typically massive and rather rotund shape of an adult animal tells you straight away that they were not built for speed. Nevertheless, man's competitive nature, and possibly his innate desire to have a small flutter whenever he can find excuse to do so, will cause him to discover sport and challenge in the oddest of places, a fact borne out by this annual event.
Chonburi buffalo races
The festival dates back some [I 100 years or so, and, so the story goes, has its origins in a challenge between two farmers, Chai and Kittipong. Like many others, they had travelled to the town market at Ban Beung at the end of Buddhist Lent to trade their goods. Having travelled there by buffalo cart, and in the spirit of competition that was strong between the various farmers, they got to discussing who had the better animal. One can only guess that they may have had a strong drink or two at the time, but the outcome was that Chai challenged Kittipong to a race on their respective beasts. So the challenge having been laid, a date was set, being one day before they were both due to return home to their villages, and the course agreed, being the square in front of the Chon Buri City Hall. Interest grew quickly amongst the other farmers and several of them decided to join in with the contest. Unfortunately, no-one now seems to know who prevailed between the original protagonists, Chai and Kittipong, nor whether either of them or one of the other farmers ended up winning the race, but the lack of such a record doesn't really matter because, more importantly, a new sport had been born.
Back then, the fanners were quite used to riding their buffalo, and many still are today, typically sitting atop them on the way back from the fields after a hard day's work ploughing their land. It is a good job too, because there are no saddles in buffalo racing and it can be a precarious ride. There are regular fallers, leaving the jockey-less racers free to run off into the crowd causing those watching to get out of the way as quickly as possible. However, there are no reports of any injuries and it is all part and parcel of a fun-filled day.

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Pattaya City Thailand, Chonburi Buffalo Races