Thailand is a place of beauty and culture. It is also a place with a place with some interesting sports. Here are a few of them that are played in Thailand:
A European sport that is popular worldwide, it is no surprise that Thailand enjoys soccer both personally and professionally on one of the free soccer fields to play games in. It’s also a popular sport to watch as many bars and restaurants show important matches. As well as having their own league, Thai citizens enjoy watch the European teams and studying everything about them.
Another worldwide sport, Thailand is renowned for its beautiful golf courses which attracts foreign golfers in particular the Japanese as they arrive and depart cheaply.
The first golf course in Thailand, the Royal Bangkok Sports Club, was built at the turn of the 20th century. Today the number is at an approximate 250 golf resorts. That combined with the Thailand Open attracting the likes of Rory McIlroy makes this south-eastern Asian country appeal to golf enthusiasts.
Kite fighting is so popular in Thailand it is considered a league sport. The kite-fighting season is on in spring and lasts until early to mid-summer with the main championships taking place in Bangkok.
There are two kinds of kites used in kite-fighting: the chula and the pakpao. The large chula is shaped like a five-pointed star and requires up to 20 people to launch it. It has bamboo slats tied on to its string which are used to entangle the tail of the diamond-shaped pakpao. Pakpaos are about half the size of the chula and are much quicker only requiring one person to control it.
In competitions, the Chula attempts to trap two Pakpao kites and pull them into a certain area to win. The Pakpaos must defend themselves by cutting the strings of the Chula with bits of glass on their strings or wrap around the larger kite and bring it to the ground.
Boat racing is an important sport in Thailand as the citizens feel it connect to the elements of water. As a result, long-boat races are major events every year with the oldest river boat race taking place in Pichit on the Nan river. The races are held over two days on a 650-meter course in 20-meter-log teak dugout boat rowed by teams of 30 or so men and occasionally women who are follow orders. from a coxswain.
Before the race, contestants bring flowers, candles, or an elaborate garland to pay respect to spirits of the boat followed by boat songs sung by the crew, to boost morale.
As well as that, there is a form of boat racing Kaeng Ruer that consists of teams of between eight and ten oarsmen and a helmsman that have coloured cloth tied to their ta-khian hardwood boat to honour the guardian spirits. These boat races are commonly held from the months of September to November post-rainy season. Races are commonly staged during the post-rainy season months of October and November.
Water Buffalo Races
Water buffalo races are held during the annual Buffalo Racing Festival in Chonburi. The event was initiated as a way to express gratitude to buffalos after working for farmers throughout the year. The goal is similar to horse racing: to be the first water buffalo and person to cross the finish line. If your buffalo isn’t the sporty type, they could still compete in other contests at the festival such as the Most Healthy Buffalo Contest and Buffalo Fashion Contest as well as the parade of beautifully-decorated buffalo carts.
In mid-November, The Surin Elephant Roundup takes place where over 100 of the 1,500 to 2,000 domesticated elephants participate in various sports. These include log pulling contests, polo matches, tug-of-wars and mock elephant hunts and battles. There is also a parade of elephants outfitted for medieval warfare if your elephant isn’t the sporty type (Like the one in the picture playing chess or perhaps the Thai version of chess).
This sport is similar to a standard game of chess where the goal is to trap the king of your opponent so that he cannot move in any direction. The pieces in Makruk move the same directions as their fellow chess pieces with the King being called the Khun, Queen the Met Bishop the Khon, Knight the Ma, Rook the Rua, and Pawn the Bia.
Takraw is a sport enjoyed by both children and adults of all social classes. Described as “volleyball for the feet,” the game requires little set up and space. Just two teams of three and a rattan ball. The catch: only the feet and head can touch the ball. Because of this, takraw players have to be physically and mentally fit. The techniques that they learn are categorized into four types: firm reception, accurate service, graceful postures, and flexible kicks. Yet those who play professionally are renowned as heroes. The net version of the game is called sepak takraw. The first team in that game to get to 15 points wins. This version of the sport is so popular in Southeast Asia that Malaysia are lobbing for it to be an Olympic sport.
There is also a variation of Takraw that has a hoop like basketball yet follows the handsfree rules of takraw as you must get the ball into the hoop without letting it hit the ground or having contact with your hands.
Tak Ball/Ultimate Taser Ball
If Takraw is too easy for you, you could dare to try Tak Ball. Described its creators as the extreme sports of sports, Ultimate Taser Ball or UTB is a game that became popular in Thailand. The Thai team consists of paintball professionals used to the pain and adrenaline junkies looking for a thrill.
Each game lasts 21 minutes split into three periods. Two teams of four must score a 24-inch medicine ball into the goal. Anyone who has the ball can be stunned by the players from the other team with a taser. These stun guns pack 3 to 5 milliamps of electricity, which is a low voltage that doesn’t cause severe pain but you sure will feel the buzz.
Chon Wua (Bull Fighting)
Known as Chon Wua, this version of bull fighting is held during local festivities or on the first Saturday of every month. Rather than a matador against a bull, it’s two bulls after a year’s training fighting each other. The match ends when the weaker bull retreats. The literal locking of the horns between the bulls really excite Thai spectators.
This Thai version of boxing is an ancient martial art that is passed down to families that use every part of the limbs from the fists and feet to the elbows and knees. Like boxing, Muai Thai fighters wear gloved fists but unlike boxing (as well as the use of elbows, knees and feet), they are bare foot
Muai Thai fights are usually given extra point for technique rather than power. There is a pre-fight "Wai Khru" rite as an act of respect with double-ended drums, cymbals, traditional Thai instruments and a Java pipe performing classical Thai music. Like other combat sports, Muai Thai audiences’ taunts pack as much an exciting punch as the combatants in the ring.
This martial art is not only a form of medieval military training, it is a form of combat where spectators enjoy the sound of swords and music. Similar to Muai Thai, contestants perform a 'Wai Khru' rite accompanied by Thai dance and classical music. The main weapons used are the Daab song mue or double swords, one in each hand. However, there is also Krabi the sabre, Krabong the staff, Lo the shield, Phlong the stick (either dual wielded or with a shield), Ngau the bladed staff and Mai sok san where a pair of clubs are worn on the forearms.
Written by: Diarmuid Crowley from StayPlanet