Superstition or ancient wisdom - the Thai buffalo is a source of pride
Held on October 27, this year’s 133rd Chonburi
Buffalo Racing competition drew a record crowd of locals and foreign
This annual event is a long-held tradition in the
province. As much loved for its action, color and sometimes hilarious
outcomes, the races pay tribute to the animals and athletic riders who
participate in friendly, but vigorous rivalry. The races are always held
one day before the end of Buddhist Lent.
In the old days, Chonburi farmers brought their
buffalos to race at the Yai Indharam Temple in Chonburi. They believed
that the race could make their buffalos healthy and free from disease.
During years the race wasn’t held, farmers noted more
of their buffalos died from disease. This may seem like superstition to
readers, but the farmers aren’t taking any chances and want the
tradition to be preserved. Plus it’s a great favorite with tourists and
city folk who look forward to this action-packed event.
This year’s activities were organized by the
government and private sector in a move to support and preserve this
age-old tradition. The event was held on the grounds in front of Chonburi
City Hall and the Chonburi District Field Office. Opening ceremonies were
presided over by Minister of Tourism and Sports Sontaya Khunplome.
The racing buffalos were divided into classes, midget,
medium and large. Besides the races, a Miss Farmer beauty pageant was held
and other contests for the animals included ‘best dressed buffalo’ in
which the animals were adorned in colorful and amusing costumes, and
‘the healthiest buffalo’.
Hordes of spectators braved the hot sun and many
participated in 13 fun caravan events including the caravan of sermons,
caravan of culture, caravan of Chonburi motto, caravan of the female
farmers, caravan of beauty and comic costumes, and other caravans from
offices and private departments.
The Miss Farmer beauty contest drew oohs and aahs from
the crowd. Other traditional sports competitions included a tug-of-war,
greased pole climbing, slingshot target practice, boxing, and hoop-style
takraw - games which are uniquely Thai, which left spectators gasping with
awe and laughter.
The fastest buffalo for the midget class was “Chao
Thong” of Wong from Phanat Nikom. The winner for the small class was
“Chao Rung” of Nopporn from Phanat Nikom. In the large class it was
“Chao Den” of Sommit from Chonburi. The winner’s owner received
3,000 baht and a certificate. Buffalos had to settle for a cold shower and
bragging rites amongst their bovine brethren.
This year the judges used a digital camera just in case racers arrived
at the finish line neck and neck. No injuries were reported from within
the crowds, although in the past it has not been uncommon for a racing
buffalo to lose its mount and veer off course, sending spectators fleeing
of Tourism and Sports Sontaya Khunplome presided over the opening
look maaaaarvelous - this buffalo is dressed in her best beauty costume.
was a rare sighting of a two-headed buffalant at this year’s festival.
my way, sailor?
of Tourism and Sports Sontaya Khunplome rode this fine float in the
young woman, perhaps wearing slightly too much makeup, was promoting
Nongmon rice baked in a bamboo cylinder - a tasty treat on a hot day.
water to the buffalo to quench its thirst.
Farmer beauty contestants were pedaled through the streets on tricycles.
down the home stretch...
greatest buffalo race in Thailand.
mighty steed indeed.
on tight, we’re going for a ride.
down the mighty beasts with cool water after the race.
‘Swimathon’ proceeds go to help needy children
Eight doughty swimmers last week braved choppy waters
to complete an exhausting 4 kilometer Rotary Cross Bay Charity Swim, from
South Pattaya pier to the Dusit shoreline, to raise money for charity.
Bold and the Beautiful – (front row l-r) Peter Rettke, Terry Hall, Glyn
Davies, and Emily Preston (Standing l-r) Bruce McDermott, Simon Simms,
David Garred and Harrie Schuurmans.
The intrepid octet, David Garred, Simon Simms, Bruce
McDermott, Harrie Schuurmans, Peter Rettke, Glyn Davies, Terry Hall and
Emily Preston made the cross bay swim under the vigilant eyes of the
Pattaya Sea Rescue Unit.
fights through heavy seas and the elements to earn her place in the
Pattaya history book.
One of the women swimmers, Emily Preston, has been
swimming since the age of three and is the 25th
ranked swimmer in the UK. Emily told Pattaya Mail that the reason
she participated in the cross bay swim was, “I wanted to help the
charity ... I do a lot (of a swimming) with school, and I like to help the
orphans, too. I love to swim.”
did it mum’ Terry Hall is greeted back on shore by her two lovely and
Emily swims 12 kilometers every day as part of her
training, but, “I’ve never swam in the sea before,” Emily said.
Simon Simms, who came up with the idea said, “The
Rotary Club of Jomtien Pattaya has been very helpful; with the whole club
behind us it has turned out to be a success. When you’re (swimming) for
charity it’s much easier. It feels like you’re doing it for a cause
… and the Ban Jing Jai is a good one.”
the worse for wear, the brave swimmers gloat in their new found
At the end of the day, over 90,000 baht had been raised
Simon added that the event wouldn’t have been
possible if it weren’t for the support if the Pattaya Tourist Police and
the Sea Rescue team. “Safety was paramount and they really did a great
Apichart Puechphan, Pattaya deputy municipal clerk,
presided over the start of the swim. The event, held on October 31, was
co-organized by the Rotary Club of Jomtien Pattaya, under the direction of
Rotarian Thor Halland and Past President Peter Malhotra, and in
conjunction with Pattaya City Sea Rescue Unit and the Pattaya Tourist
Before commencing the swim, Mana Saengsukdee, Pattaya
Sea Rescue supervisor informed the swimmers on the route they were to
take, and briefed everyone, including his team, on important safety
Pol. Sen. Sgt. Maj. Tawin Boonwananamchareon from
Pattaya Tourist police provided further details on the course so the
swimmers would not stray from the route. He also reassured them that the
water police were close by should they get into difficulty.
Thor Halland said, “Today’s event came about due
the Rotary Club of Jomtien Pattaya’s commitment to helping society. It
is a primary part of the club’s philosophy and today’s swim is for the
underprivileged children of our society and more specifically the children
at the Ban Jing Jai. Today’s activity is also part of boosting
Pattaya’s sporting and tourism image.
“The Rotary Cross Bay Charity Swim received a great
deal of support from many organizations, including the Pattaya Sea Rescue
Unit for supplying the boats and jet skis to watch over the swimmers,
Pattaya Tourist police, Pattaya City and many others who saw the
importance of the event in aid of underprivileged children,” Halland
Apichart Puechphan, Pattaya deputy municipal clerk,
before setting the swimmers on their journey said, “Pattaya is growing
and developing rapidly, especially in the tourism and sports areas. This
development has been well noted by both government and private enterprise
as they cooperate in organizing activities, such as today’s event. The
charity swimathon was brought about by the dedication and organization of
Simon Simms, Thor Halland and the Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya. Their
aim is to aid the children from the Ban Jing Jai in Soi Nernplubwan. The
Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya organizes activities to raise funds for
those in need. Today sees them joined by 8 dedicated people who will
undergo this task. I believe that these 8 people in this event will not
only help children and the community, but also boost Pattaya’s
burgeoning sports and tourism image, as well as further cooperation
between Thais and foreign nationals in Pattaya.”
Following the formalities Apichart then blew the
whistle, setting the swimmers on their way across 4 kilometers of sea
north to the Dusit.
As the swimmers made their way out from the beach at
Bali Hai pier, the wind picked up and the waves began to swell. Undeterred
by the choppy conditions, the intrepid swimmers continued out into the bay
under the watchful eyes of the Pattaya Sea Rescue teams.
Five meters offshore it was veteran swimmer Simon Simms
leading the pack, closely followed by 16 year old Emily Preston and Glyn
Davies. As they continued, water police and rescue teams kept boats away
from the group while pointing the way north.
Well into the hour-plus swim, young Emily Preston
pushed ahead of the seasoned swimmers with strong and constant strokes,
and as the pack spread out over time, the tail end swimmers began shifting
slightly off course, only to be guided back in by support boats.
Hengtrakul, (centre) advisor to the Minister of Tourism and Sports and
President Judy Hoppe (3rd
left) congratulate the magnificent swimmers.
Two kilometers into the swim Emily was still in the
lead, but a wrong turn pushed her back into third place behind Simon and
Glyn from the UK. In the final 500 meters, Glyn picked up the pace to come
home first with a time of 1 hour 16 minute and 8 seconds, followed by
Simon and Emily.
swimmers take off across the bay, closely guarded by the rescue boats.
Terry Hall, the other woman to take part, hit the beach
at around 3.30 p.m. to be greeted by her very proud children. With all
swimmers safely back on dry land, the party on the Dusit Resort’s
Hengtrakul and Judy Hoppe present a certificate of appreciation to Stefan
Heintze, Resident Manager of the Dusit Resort for their generosity in
hosting the ‘post swim’ party.
Chanyuth Hengtrakul, advisor to the Tourism and Sports
Minister later presented certificates of appreciation and achievement to
the swimmers and event sponsors. Chanyuth was heard saying that he hoped
the event would go on to become a major one in Pattaya’s sporting
calendar, as it not only promotes swimming in Pattaya but helps the
underprivileged in the community.
Chanyuth Hengtrakul, Judy Hoppe, Bert Elson and Don Maclachlan enjoying
the beach activities.
Judy Hoppe, president of the Rotary Club of
Jomtien-Pattaya presented Chanyuth with a gift of appreciation for his
support of the event.
Campbell (right) gives an ‘on the spot’ donation to Simon Simms
towards the good cause.
The beach party was attended by family and friends of
the swimmers, and continued on as the sun set over Pattaya Bay. Much fun
was had by all.
As always, events such as this would not be successful without the
generous support from sponsors. In this inaugural event, sponsorships came
in from Terry and Adam of the Queen Vic, Alex and Nid from the Lucky Time
Bar, Vic and Bert form the Queen Victoria Inn, Danny and Tik of the
Sweethearts Bar, Denis of OK Coral, Spike and Steve from Crazy Eddies, Liz
McDermott, Alan Bishop, Paul Smith, Fosters Lager, Tonmai Printing Co.
Ltd., Fusion Garments, and Pattaya Mail. Many more donations are
still coming in. All proceeds will be used to care for the 52 children in
the Ban Jing Jai orphanage.
Wilkinson, Mana Sanksookdee, (Chief of Pattaya City Sea Rescue) Khun
Apichart Puechpan and Thor Halland pose with the rescue unit before the
start of the marathon swim.
lined the shores of the Dusit Resort cheering the swimmers on.
be missed, the Fosters Beer stand was busy all afternoon quenching the
thirst of spectators and swimmers alike.
of the Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya wave merrily, proud of a job well
Emily talks about her swimming career
“My swimming career began at the age of three on our
first assignment with Foster Wheeler in Pattaya. On my 4th birthday, I was
training in the 25m pool at Thai Garden Resort. There I had a coach that
had me swim up and down everyday.
receives a citation from Chanyuth Hengtrakul, Advisor to the Minister of
Tourism and Sports and President Judy Hoppe of the Rotary Club of
Jomtien-Pattaya, certifying that she participated in and successfully
completed the Rotary Cross Bay Charity Swim on October 31 2004.
I returned to England at the age of five. There I
achieved a record, which is still standing today, for being the youngest
child to make it out of the young children’s teaching program. I
continued swimming in England for another year, doing life-saving with
Preston-‘girl with a golden heart’
My dad’s work, Foster Wheeler, causes our family to
travel quite a bit. The next assignment was in Beijing. While living
there, I did not swim for two years. Our family then returned to England,
where I went into year 5 at school. I swam with the school there and did
various school galas.
I was spotted at one particular gala and asked to try
out for the Reading Swimming Club, the town’s swim club. I continued my
swimming at the club for four years, each year moving up squads and
increasing training. I reached the point of swimming eight to ten times a
week, swimming an average of twelve thousand meters a day, with morning
and evening sessions.
has every right to be very proud of his gifted daughter.
I was swimming very competitively with competitions
almost every weekend all over England. During this time, I also took up
the sport of high board diving at Albatross Diving Club, also in Reading.
I traveled all over England again for various competitions, and after six
months of diving, with not much experience, I was ranked 12th in England.
With eight swimming sessions a week and five diving
sessions and competitions for both sports on the same weekends, I
eventually had to decide which sport to pursue. I chose to concentrate on
swimming. I also gave up Netball for swimming. I had played center for the
A team at my school. We won the league of all the schools in my town. I
was selected by my school to go to try-outs for talented Netball players.
I made the try-outs and began to play Netball for the county and then for
the South of England. There were opportunities to go on and play
nationally, but swimming took priority.
the press couldn’t resist getting Emily on TV. Pattaya Mail News covered
the swim from start to finish.
My dad’s next assignment was in Shanghai, China. In
Shanghai, I was denied the right to swim with the Chinese teams; the
government would not allow “wai guo ren,” (foreigners) into the pool.
I swam at a public 25m pool, dodging all the people, with a lifeguard as a
coach. My coach left to get another job and I was lucky to have an
ex-Olympian, who swam in Los Angeles and in Seoul representing China, to
come and work at the pool I used. His name is Zhengjian, and he is very
famous in Shanghai. He and other colleagues coached me every day after
school and on Saturday mornings.
It was not possible to do early morning sessions, as
the pool did not open until nine o’clock. At that time of the day, I was
at school! I swam individually with a coach for two years. It became
increasingly difficult as it got boring and I lost motivation.
Last October, Zhengjian made a competition, which was
originally between the Japanese and Chinese, international. This meant
that I could compete, which was excellent and gave me the opportunity to
prove what I could achieve. The competition was the Speedo International
League. I “swept the board” coming first in all my events and won top
girl at the meet.
Stefanie was on the rescue boat watching Emily fight through stormy seas
to carve her name into the annals of Pattaya history.
After two years in Shanghai, our next assignment
brought us to Pattaya again. I have been living here three months to the
day. I (started) at Bangkok Patana School (BPS) on Tuesday, November 2.
BPS has a very strong swim team, the Tigers; they are the strongest team
in Bangkok. I have made the national team and will resume intense training
again eight times a week! My first competition will be on December 1st and
I enjoy doing charity work, especially sponsored sport
events. Last month I took part in a sponsored spin to raise money for
Jesters ‘Care For Kids’.
I enjoyed the swim across Pattaya Bay; it is the first time I have done
a sea swim. The sponsors were supportive and it was a great atmosphere.
The Dusit Resort Hotel was fabulous, giving us food and drink at the end.
It was a great day and a tremendous effort by all the swimmers. The
Pattaya Sea Rescue did a grand job at steering the way and protecting us
during the swim. Next year I hope to come first.”