A wise man once said....

"When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen you may learn something new." Dalai Lama

Monday, 23 November 2009

Long Boat Racing

The Annual Long Boat Racing at Mapracham Lake, Pattaya took place this weekend. Thousands of people turned out to watch this amazing event. I say amazing. Why? Because the boats come in several different categories based on size, nukmber of crew etc. They do a number of 1-2 kilometer straight races. Some sort of elimination and a load of heats and grand finals.
Similar events go on throughout the year in different places in Thailand and neighbouring countries, including Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Taiwan. All these countries were competing here today, and its serious stuff.
The events in Thailand are sponsored by the Queen and a cup is awarded to the winners of the various events and catagories.
The lake shore is only about 500 meters from our place so it was a short walk to have few hours of really good and 'free;'entertainment.
It was loud. I mean very loud, in true Thai style. I think the enjoyment factor in Thailand is a direct link to the volume of music and coming out of loud speakers. Really loud then its realy Fun, Fun, Fun...
And with the electrifing excitment in the crowds it reminded me more of being in the stands on a horse race day with full commentary blasting out, then anything else I could equate it to.
Add in all the usual side shows with country dancing competitions between the local schools, music groups etc. All the kids dressed up in their traditional costumes and looking great. Big smiles all round. Exactly!!! You would not expect anything less in Thailand.
And of course it would not have been complete without the full retinue of hawkers selling ballons, horns, flags, assorted trinkets and stalls selling every possible type of Thai food imaginable. The smells of curries, stirfrys, sweets, coffees etc. Magic.
It's difficult to capture the atmosphere of it all with so much going on around you where ever you looked. But I did take a few shots with the camera.

But back to the boats.

What was particularly interesting to me was the way the people looked after their boats. Immaculate.
All the boats were beautifully decked out and had the usual Thai adornments of brightly coloured cloth tied round the front. Not sure of the nautical term for such a 'bow sprit'. They almost remind you of the Viking long boats. When looked at closely it was clear they also all had special names depicting good luck and a reference somehow to their origin. Wanna, my wife who is not great boat person (she will freely admit to this!) was able to tell me exactly which province or town, inside or outside of Thailand they originated from, just by reading the name. (Maybe she was Bull Shitting me, but I would't know any better would I?...). So I'll accept it anyway.
All this racing is taken very, very seriously. Which of course makes it all the more of a major event not to be missed. It was great just standing around, watching, especially the sight of the long 'long' boats. They have crews of up to 58 persons. (I know I counted ! ). I figured at 55 Kilo a person it works out at over 3 tons of body mass per boat. Add in the wooden boat, drums, paddles etc etc and at it is a lot of stuff to shift through the water. But they did it and did it very quickly.
I'll be back agin next year and I already am planning on donig a proper video of it all as a 3-5 minutes thingy. Something to plan for.
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