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October 1, 2015

Chonburi Buffalo Racing Festival

Chonburi Buffalo Racing Festival 2016

 

Chonburi Buffalo Racing Festival 2016

 

Revised 28/08/2016

The trick is to hang onto what is in essence, several tonnes of lumbering disgruntled mass of muscle, sinew and pointed horns

When: 16th October 2016

Where: Chonburi city hall Chonburi Central/Eastern Thailand

The world famous Chonburi Buffalo Races – Wing Kwai are a fantastic, colourful celebration of these mighty if some-what stupid beasts of burden. Did you know that Thai’s will refer to stupid people unkindly as a ‘Buffalo’ – Khway ควาย. The two week eagerly awaited festival, is closely associated with the end of Buddhist Lent, with the exact date of the festival varying from year to year. As with most festivals in the Kingdom the exact dates are dictated by the Thai Lunar calendar.

Organised buffalo racing has been an event in Chonburi (the name means ‘City of Water’) for more than 140 years, it is believed that racing of these several ton hurtling mountains of beef, has been going on, informally for several hundred years prior to this.

 

Chonburi Buffalo Racing Festival 2016.

 

To be fair to the Buffalos they are separated into three different sizes, large, medium and small, all races are run over the same 100 metre track in both rain and shine, with the track perfectly located right in front of the Chonburi city hall. The jockey’s job in this mayhem is to coax the most out of their animals and to try to get their beast to go in a straight line, as fast as possible. To do so they sit almost on the haunches of the buffalo, clinging to the charging animal with only one hand and the strength in their knees, while the other hand wield’s a stick to encourage the beast to go in the right direction. The speed these ungainly animals reach is quite frightening and it is not unusual for riders to become dislodged in their attempt to be the winning jockey.

A rider less stampeding buffalo can be a bit of a problem, as the animal may still want to continue running, can you imagine trying to stop several ton of hurtling beef steak in its tracks when all it wants to do is make a dash for the nearest water hole?

Chonburi Buffalo Racing Festival 1

 

The Racing

The racing element of the festival is a serious business for both the riders and the beast’s owners, with great ‘Kudos’ given to the winners. To ensure the buffalo’s are in the best of condition for each of their races, they are fed on a special diet, which includes amongst other things, beer and eggs, the hope is that this unusual menu will improve both the animals running ability and its stamina.

The animals are well cared for and to ensure the well being of the beasts, they are kept refreshed by their attendees who through-out the day will cool them down with buckets and buckets of water. I did note some of the jockey’s may well have been on part of the same diet as their rides, or it may be that they were simply soothing their bruised bodies and dented egos with a shot or two of Sangsom. (Thai Rum)

Chonburi Buffalo Racing Festival best buffaloThis is not to say the festival is just about speed and the ability of the rider to hang on to what is in essence, several tonnes of lumbering disgruntled mass of muscle, sinew and pointed horns. The festival also includes a buffalo beauty pageant, the winning animal is crowned “Miss Farmer”, if you want to see Thai’s laugh to the point of almost crying the hilarious buffalo beauty contest is a must see. There are also other contests on the main race day, which is normally towards the end of the festival, when there are several events designed to test the balance, agility, speed and other skills of the buffalo.

 

HOW TO GET THERE

Chonburi City is the capital of the province with the same name and is located between the cities of Bangkok and Pattaya There are regular buses from Bangkok with the journey time of around 2 hours. The fare is approx. 120 Baht. From Pattaya, the journey is around 1 hour and costs approx. 40 Baht. Do note that the city becomes swollen with tourists during the festival, with the result that accommodation is not readily available and should be booked in advance.

 

As with all celebrations in ‘The Land of Smiles’ the emphasis is on fun and the serious business of Eating and this festival is no difference, there will always be a vast variety of food and drink on offer, with stands selling a huge range of local produce along with the normal collection of street vendors selling their trinkets and bric-a-brac. There is also a traditional Thai fair with games for all ages and a human female beauty contests.

 

The day is a mass of bodies, noise, colour, smiles and smells and if you want to get close to the real Thailand you’re going to love it

 

water-buffalo-racing

 

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5 comments

  1. Lily - May 28, 2017 4:50 pm

    Hi, any idea on the details for 2017’s buffalo racing festival? I can’t seem to find any event schedule on the internet. Thanks in advance if you have any information.

    Reply
    • Chris Tuffey - May 31, 2017 10:16 am

      Sorry but we know no more than you, we will update the page when information comes to hand

      Reply
  2. Shannon - October 14, 2016 2:35 pm

    Hello,

    I was wondering if this event is still running, as Thailand is officially in mourning for the next 30 Days. We are all sorry for the loss of the King, may he Rest In Peace.

    Looking forward to your response.

    Reply
    • Chris Tuffey - October 15, 2016 6:53 am

      The truth is we simply do not know, some major festivities are already cancelled they include the Illuminated Boat Procession in Nakhon Phanopm, the Yi Peng lantern festival in Chiang Mai and the Amazing Elephant festival in Surin.

      Once we know we will add the information here

      Reply
      • Chris Tuffey - October 15, 2016 8:07 am

        Just been confirmed Buffalo Racing in Chonburi is cancelled

        Reply

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