Chiang Mai, Excursions, Nature — 26 September 2013 10 h 24 min

Lanna boat Races in Nan.

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Lanna boat Races in Nan.

Every year in the months October or November the city of Nan comes alive when the largest dragon boat races of the Kingdom of Thailand are being held. The date of the races depends on when the raining season will be finished.

The Boat Racing Festival or Lanna Boat Races, combines religious rituals with entertainment for the thousands of energetic spectators who visit the festival every year. The exact time of origin of the boat races is unknown, but in 1936 the races were held during the community’s robe presentation to the monks after the end of the Buddhist Lent until the time of the royal robe presentation ceremony, this ceremony is known as Tarn Guay Salark (ตานก๋วยสลาก).

In those days the boat races started to become a social and a sports event, especially for the women of the area, who were confined to their houses, but during the festival had the opportunity to meet local men.

The traditional boats are carved out of one piece of wooden log, and are carved in images of dragons, rat snake heads and other great designs, with hanging heads and tails attached. The body of the boats are decorated with stained glass in alternating patterns of exquisitely lacquer.

Once they start, teams of 50 or more paddlers — dressed in electric-colored vests –churn up the river with their paddles in an attempt to reach the finish line first, while groups of cheerleaders in identical dress dance and cheer them on from the riverbank.

The race lasts for two days, with wildly decorated, long, low-slung crafts zipping down the Nan River, and thousands of people going wild with the excitement inherent in the competition.

Hotels and resorts in the area will be booked in this period, so if you want to enjoy this must-visit festival, full of watersport and culture, you do well by booking your accommodation in advance

Although the festival draws lots of tourists and money into Nan every year, this doesn’t mean that the economy of Nan is getting any better and local people are reaping the harvest. Big Bangkok companies run most of the commercial activities of the festival and most locals aren’t even allowed to sell their goods at the festival.

In the eyes of some, the festival is becoming more tourist orientated, while the significance of its cultural heritage is being reduced. People just come to Nan to drink while watching the boat racing and the major drink companies will reap the benefits.

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Boat race Nan, Thailand

Boat race Nan, Thailand

 

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