By FOCUS REPORTER
JOY, sweat, tears and the cheering of the crowd is what you are sure to see and hear when you visit Thailand between September 16 and 17.
This is when Thailand hosts the Swan Boat Race on the Chao Phraya River, one of the most anticipated events for locals and tourists from all over the world.
“Competitors come from all around the world, including Asia, America, Australia and of course different regions of Thailand. The Swan Boat Race aims to promote the diverse cultures in the world, while building friendly ties between the different countries. This competition is nothing new to Thailand, having competed in many international boat races since 1985,” explains Niruth Sripawatakul, general manager for Central, Eastern and Southern Africa for Thai Airways International.
The first international boat race was held in September 1999 on the Chao Phraya River near the Rama IX Bridge in Bangkok. Since then, it has become a massive international event with different athletes from all over the world bringing their family and fans to support them on this long and tiring race.
The Swan Boat race is so huge that there is even nationwide TV coverage. The race is spread over two exciting days and the winning teams could bring 300 000 Baht (roughly R67 114.09) home. There is no admission fee and customers are welcome to have beer and food. The event even provides free entertainment while you wait between the races.
There are two different races that spectators can enjoy:
The International Swan Boat Race: This race features twenty-two participants and fifteen international teams. All the countries have different names for the boats that represent their country. For example, the American Swan Boat Association representing America, the Freemantle Swan Dragon Boat team representing Australia, the Castle Peak Power Station representing Hong Kong, the Nagasaki team from Japan and of course three teams from Thailand, to name a few, will be competing.
Thai Traditional Long-boat Race: This race is a little bit different and is a lot more exciting than the other races because it features eight different teams from across the regions of Thailand. Locals make a huge amount of noise to support their team. The races depart from regions such as Theppaitoon from Phitsanuloke and Chao Mae Pradoothong from Chonburi.
If you are not such a big sports fan and just come for the lively atmosphere, you can easily wonder to the Bang Sai Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Centre to see what souvenirs they have on offer. Or you could enjoy one of the many lavish restaurants they have overlooking the river.
THAI is extending their Sawasdee Thailand promotion which lets you, experience Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai all in one trip. For more information please visit www.thaiair.co.za or phone (011) 268 2580.