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Pattaya Daily News

23 November 2009 :: 21:11:31 pm 1773

Pattaya Barge Races Go International

Pattaya’s Barge Races at Lake Mabprachan dam have increased in popularity over the years and this one saw teams visiting to compete from surrounding Asian nations. As well as this growth, the nearby Buffalo Races were expanded and there has been the addition of very popular drumming competitions; - these two days of events is a relaxing spectator weekend that should not be missed.
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Pattaya, the 22nd of November 2009 [Pattaya Daily News]: After around four years, the traditional Pattaya “Barge Races” have made it to the big time league, and offer top entertainment for both Thai citizens and overseas visitors or expats. More than twenty longboats competed for the HRH Princess Sirindhorn and HRH Princess Soamsawalee trophies at these 2009 Pattaya International Longboat Races. No problems with parking spaces at the bottom of the big dam wall, and likewise there was ample room for whole families to sit along the massive dam wall, with food & drinks being readily available.

The weekend started with a copy of the royal barge procession before the first race, beginning around 8 a.m. on Saturday, then the races commenced with ten long boats, with fifty five oarsmen each, competing for the HRH Princess Sirindhorn trophy plus a very acceptable 100,000 baht in prizes. In conjunction with this, buffalo racing and a drum beating competitions began at 10.30 am and finishing at about 5.00 pm on Saturday afternoon, about one kilometer further down the road.

Other barge racing divisions featured around twelve longboats each with thirty oarsmen and as well as Thai teams there were competitors with teams from Myanmar, plus new entries from Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, , Philippines and Vietnam who competed for 50,000 baht in prize money, plus the HRH Princess Soamsawalee trophy. The cool weather and gentle breezes blowing long the lake made conditions absolutely ideal, which went a long way to pleasing the record crowd of spectators.

On Sunday it was time for the exciting finals to be held, with the Thai musicians and a team of very fast speaking professional commentators, really hyping up the onlookers to a fever pitch. As a sideline the races between highly decorated dragon boats with around nine oarsmen and a drummer perched in the bow, added some extra color to this already excellent weekend of entertainment. The finals at 3.00 pm saw Laos come in ahead of their rivals, then this led on to trophy presentations at 4.00 pm, which saw all leading dignitaries from the Nongprue district taking part in the awards ceremony.

Pattaya Daily News spoke to the Municipal Clerk of the Nongprue Municipality, Khun Saksit Yaemsri, who is also the Secretary of the Pattaya Barge Racing Committee. He observed that that there were more people in attendance this year, including both Thais and foreign nationals. He went on to say, – “Many of the boat racing teams were stronger, however Thailand remained as the leaders with Taiwan second and Vietnam third;” (At the time of this interview).

The buffalo races just slightly further down the Siam Country Club Road were much bigger, having received Royal Patronage from Her Majesty the Queen of Thailand and the Governor of Chonburi was also very impressed with these traditional events. Next year will see stronger Buffalo Racing competitions with more teams and a bigger variety of events such as strongest buffalo, buffalo cart racing, etc. Likewise, the new section for drumming teams was extremely popular, and is equally exciting for both foreign visitors and Thais, so it is all there; – there only needs some more promotional ideas for next year.

When asked about the possibility of running “shuttle buses” from Pattaya to the Mabprachan Dam racing venue, Khun Saksit Yaemsri commented that several people had already approached him, regarding this possibility. It is believed that steps have already been taken to contract local bus operators, as this would be a sure way to increase visitor numbers; [End of Interview].

Pattaya’s Mayor, Itthiphol Kunplome, believes that the race has attracted stronger racing teams and has helped to increase tourism, and is working to get these barge races upgraded to international status in the near future. Both visitors and locals are eagerly waiting for next year’s spectacular “Barge Races,” which are sure to again be bigger and better than this year.

Reporter : Harry Green   Photo : Harry Green   Category : Tourism News

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