Long-boat racing is a traditional festival that is usually held at the end of the Buddhist Rains Retreat which is usually in October. These happen all over the country. Some of the biggest take place at Ayutthaya, Phichit, Phitsanulok and Narathiwat. They also have boat racing at Phra Pradaeng in Samut Prakan that has been taking place for over 100 years. In the olden days, that district had no roads and everyone got around by boat. The local people then got together for celebrations to mark the end of the rainy season on the fourth day after the full moon in October.
Like any of these local festivals, it isn’t really publicized much outside the immediate area. But, as it is set by the phases of the moon I was able to work it out for myself. In fact, according to my lunar calendar, we are supposed to have a boat race in front of the city hall in Samut Prakan tomorrow. I am not sure if it will take place as I cannot find anyone who knows any details. But, I will go and take a look anyway. This is the first time I went to the one in Phra Pradaeng. They had several days of celebrations which also included lots of food. It takes place along the waterfront near the administration buildings.
You can watch the boat racing anywhere you like, but I ended up in the VIP enclosure as that was where the exciting finish took place. It was also good because the winning team always rowed over to receive congratulations and encouragement from the District Chief and the Governor. However, the Chao Phraya River at this point is quite wide and so it wasn’t easy to get close-up action shots. But, we were lucky as the organizers asked some of the boat teams to do a pretend race just for the media in front of our enclosure. That is why some of these pictures are more dramatic.
There are still more boat races to come all over Thailand. They happen wherever there are any major waterways. It is fun to watch and you should really make the effort to watch.