One of the most exciting events of Chon Buri province – annual Buffalo Racing Festival – will this year 2016 take place on 15 October at the end of Buddhist lent. In a tradition that now stretches back over 140 years, the buffalos are raced to ensure they get exercise during the period when rice is growing and there’ less work to be done in the fields. The festival also celebrates the importance of buffalos to Thai farming and the rural way of life and gives local people the chance to come together and enjoy fun and good food. As usual, the event is expected to attract large crowds of tourists looking to see something uniquely Thai.
The races themselves are in three categories based on the size of the racing buffalos. It’s all taken very seriously by the animals’ owners who often make their beasts follow a strict training regime and diet in the weeks leading up to the races. As a result, the buffalo are raring to go and there are big prizes on offer. If you think of Thai buffalos as slow lumbering beasts, you may be surprised how fast they can run – it takes all the agility of the riders simply to hang on and guide their steed down the 100 metre track.
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Photo: TAT website