John and Jane in Thailand

J and J have escaped the hurly-burly of life in the USA.

A Day at the Races

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They come from all over Thailand, teams of thirty men hoping to paddle their way to victory. Yes, I said paddle.  We from Seattle are familiar with boat races – hydroplanes, sailboats, UW crew rowing but I’m new to this form of racing.  Traditional Thai long-boat racing is held annually in October about 10 km from our beach and this year we were able to attend one of the four days of racing.  It was exciting and colorful as I hope you will see in the photographs.  It is not just the first boat across the line that determines the winner in these races, the lead man in the boat throws his paddle in the water, climbs the bow and must grab the marker flag as the boat crosses the finish line.  These last seconds really get the crowd going of course.

The boats are hand-crafted, dug out from the trunk of a single tree, usually Hopea.  Take a close look when the photos allow, most are beautifully and imaginatively painted.   The races take place on what we call “the King’s Cannel”.  It was designed/engineered by the current king (Rama IX) to relieve the chronic flooding in the Chumphon area. The large billboard like signs you see across the water are all in praise and honor of the King.  He is a remarkable man and oh so loved by the Thai people.  In front of the signs are stages on which the . . . I call them the “cheer leaders” are performing.  They are purposely dress in silly costumes and look like they are having fun but oh-my-gosh they have got to be hot!  When we go next year, I’m taking my telephoto lens.


Written by Jane Estes

October 26, 2012 at 1:10 pm

One Response

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  1. Hi Jane and John, I am looking forward to the next post. I just booked a weeks dive trip to Roatan, Honduras, Jan. 10. I have been there once before. The diving is lovely and lazy. I had hoped to go to Grenada but couldn’t make it happen this year. Hope all remains well in your world. All the best to you and yours in the year to come. Cheers, Kathy


    December 19, 2012 at 8:38 am

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