Friday, July 9, 2010

Buffalo fighting!

While driving around the island we see many times buffalo's standing in the field next to the road. And we were wondering in the beginning where they use the buffalo for these days? Since there isn't any rice farming done here on Samui anymore. But now we know! We have seen the signs!! There are several buffalo fighting stadiums here on the island. It is typical for Samui and the south of Thailand, not at many places you see buffalo fighting.

So one day we followed the sign in Maenam and we went to the arena, where the buffalo's live and fight. The fights are held every day at 5:30 pm, but it didn't look like there is much going on every day. Later I heard there are big fights on special occasions, but you can still go and see even during a week day. Well, we decided not to go, just have a look around...

This is a small compound where the guys who train the buffalo's live and take care of the animals during the day, it is a relaxed environment where these huge animals rest, eat and sleep and the guys do the same.... rest, eat and sleep! Not much happening here, what a life!! The only thing is it smells... not so nice! But we killed our curiosity and don't need to necessarily see the fight itself! And since me, my dad or the girls aren't interested in betting, we just leave it at this small visit!

These heavyweights are mostly involved in fighting as there is no (rice) farming anymore on Samui. This is a sport specific to the south of Thailand, and on Samui it generates a great deal of excitement. There are about a half dozen rough " stadiums" around the island, most being no more than a cleared area under the palms with a wall of bamboo matting or coconut leaves to hinder the view of those who haven't paid for a seat. Great crowds gather when a fight is on, and while men pay about 100 Baht, women enter free.

Usually, the more aggressive the buffalo, the greater the crowd's delight.The fight ends when one animal turns and runs, usually well before either animal gets hurt. But for the peace-loving ones there is now the "Living Thailand Buffalo Show" - which is located at the road 4173 to Ban Thale. Features are a Thai farming museum, a buffalo theater showing paddy ploughing and rice planting and a ride in a buffalo cart.

The Buffalo Fighting Festival, Ko Samui is a very popular event held on special occasions such as New Year's Day in January, and Songkran in mid-April. This festival features head-wrestling bouts in which two male water buffaloes are pitted against one another. Unlike Spanish Bullfighting, wherein bulls get killed while fighting sword-wielding men, Buffalo Fighting Festival, Ko Samui is a fairly harmless contest. The fighting season varies according to some ancient customs and ceremonies.

This hugely cheered spectacle is organized at selected venues around Ko Samui, like the stadiums at Ban Saket, Ban Makham, and just outside Nathon town. Banners are displayed well in advance all over the island.

On the day of the fight, the bulls are adorned with colorful ribbons and gold-painted leaves on their horns. Holy water is sprinkled on them as a sign of blessings prior to the fight. The bout takes place in two rounds, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. The buffaloes lock horns with each other - much to the cheer of the huge and lively crowd - until the weaker one submits. The first Buffalo to turn and run away is considered the loser. The champion buffalo becomes worth several million baht.

The Buffalo Fighting Festival, Ko Samui is still a popular sport among the locals, and if you visit Samui at the right time, you might just be lucky enough to watch this thrilling encounter. The gambling is huge and the figures runs in the Millions of Baht!!

Thailand; the land of buffalos and betting!

Sawasdee Kha,

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Though this is so not my thing, I always learn something new reading your blog, Mireille! Thanks for sharing another little bit about my daughter's culture.


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