You could be forgiven for thinking that a domesticated buffalo is not built for sprinting, but in Chonburi town, the gateway to resorts along the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand, farmers have managed to tweak a turn of speed from these working animals that is nothing short of amazing.
The annual Buffalo races, 13 October, are a hotly contested series of sprints across on an open space in front of the town’s municipal offices.Tourists and the town’s residents turn out for these amazing races that have been featured in the past on CNN and the BBC as a must-see event.
The races are taken very seriously by the owners of the buffaloes. Prizes for the first nose past the finishing line guarantee owners go to considerable lengths to ensure their buffaloes are in tip-top condition. Clouds of dust rise as these hefty animals pound down the short course at an alarming speed, reminiscent of a stampede. The crowd roars in support of the favourites and the atmosphere is as an enthralling as watching thoroughbred race horses.Admittedly, mites slower than a race horse, but the buffaloes are no slouches when it comes to making a short dash for glory.
Although this day of fun and competition would succeed with just the buffaloes as the celebrities, there are other activities to make it a worthwhile outing for families.A fair with food stalls and handicrafts appeals to visitors who love authentic Thai food, snacks and sweets. Then there are the rides for children, concerts of folk music and, of course, a beauty contest where the prize is the honour of being declared Miss Buffalo. Not exactly the most adhering of titles for an aspiring beauty queen, but it does not seem to deter contestants from seeking the limelight of the catwalk.Here is a festival that provides photo opportunities to capture an unusual adaptation of the 100-metre dash. Well worth seeing, is always the conclusion of those who make the effort to travel to Chonburi.
If the more traditional version of four-legged races is more appealing then the venue should be the Horse Show, 23 October at the Sanctuary of Truth, also in Chonburi province, on the outskirts of Pattaya The show is organised to commemorate the reign of King Rama V, the Great, on a day set aside as a national holiday to honour a ruler who initiated many of the developments that ultimately encouraged the economic and social transformation of the nation.