The annual Buffalo Racing Festival recently took place in Chonburi City. I have been going to this event for a few years now to watch the spectacle of buffaloes racing down a track with riders perched precariously on their backs. This is now the 137th buffalo racing event. Every year the races seem to be getting more popular as word starts to spread. This year was no exception with larger crowds. There were also many more foreign tourists than I have seen before. I think most probably came up from Pattaya for the day. The Buffalo Racing Festival is still not in the Lonely Planet but news of this event is obviously spreading on the Internet. The date is fixed by the phases of the moon. It usually takes place the day before the full moon in October. The full moon day is also celebrated as the end of the three month long Buddhist Retreat.
Buffalo racing is not really like a day at the horse races. It takes a long time to prepare them for the start of each race. There are also many false starts which again takes time for them to get back to the start line. Even though four buffaloes and their riders are at the start line, not all of them reached the finish line. Some never even start and some riders fall off along the way. As you can see from this picture, there is no saddle for the rider and it cannot be easy for him to stay mounted like that. It looked like there weren’t enough jockeys as I spotted the same riders on different buffaloes. It is also quite easy for them to be injured and some were sent to hospital. The sun was hot and as there was a long wait between races, I only watched three or four. But, there were plenty of other things going on at the festival.
In another area of the field, there was an auction going on for some buffaloes. These were really big animals. As I walked passed, the prices were going up as high as 100,000 baht. A bit further on I came across the winners for the Miss Buffalo Beauty Pageant. The buffaloes were all dressed up as well. Apparently they take part in a parade through the town though I missed that this year as I was away on a road trip to Isaan. Other events going on was cock fighting, Thai boxing, climbing a greasy pole, team takraw and slingshot. There were also the usual fairground rides for the kids and of course plenty of food to eat. If you have never seen buffalo racing then it is worth going for the novelty. Though, don’t wear your best shoes and be careful where you step. Also, take plenty of sun lotion as the sun was very strong. Most people used umbrellas. We will post information about the schedule for next year over at the ThailandQA.com Forums.