Track and Field Day Extravaganza in Thailand

Track and Field Day Extravaganza in Thailand

by Paul Hoffman, Greenheart Travel Teach Abroad Participant in Thailand

Each year when I was in grade school we had something called Track and Field Day.  I always loved this event!  We would set aside our normal class schedule on a wonderful day in May and participate in running contests around the track to try and burn up some of our Spring Fever energy.  It was grand, and the best thing was the little box lunch that was served outside!  (You know, a PB & J sandwich with an apple, cookie, and a pint of milk.  This was back before juice boxes, tubes of yogurt, and Lunchables.)

Well, my Grade School Track and Field Day does not hold a candle to the two day event called Sports Days here at Kanchanapise School.  This extravaganza was held last Thursday and Friday and it was amazing!  The students prepare for a few weeks beforehand and their efforts really showed.  Both the students and teachers had a great time and I was happy to be a part of it.

photo from Daily Travel Photos

The six different grades of students here are divided into four teams with each team represented by a different color.  (I was a supporter of the Blue Team and I now have a Blue Diamond T-Shirt to bring home as a memento / souvenir!)  There are all different aged students on each team and this makes things a bit more fair.  The main sporting events are: Badminton, Volleyball, Basketball, Table Tennis, Takro, and Football (in the USA we call it soccer for some strange reason).

The very difficult (Thai) sport of Takro is a mixture of Football and Volleyball and is extremely interesting to watch.  Imagine two teams on each side of a small volleyball net.  Each team has three people and they use a light weigh six inch diameter ball that looks like it’s weaved out of flat bamboo strips.  The players can use their feet, heads, knees, chest, etc, etc.  But, they can not use their hands – just like in Football.  The object is to get the ball back and forth over the net and not let it hit the ground or go out of bounds.  Talk about athletic skill and intensity!  As you can imagine, it’s a tough game to play and a great game to watch!

Many activities extended over the two days that were beyond just sports.  There was an incredible amount of drum beating along with yelling and screaming and cheering!  (I have come to the conclusion that the drum beating is an extension of the cheering and it seems that the drums beat faster when one team is about to score or win – it’s very exciting and I think it adds to the whole sport drama vibe.)  The students really get into their sports here!  Plus, there was a parade on the second day complete with music, costumes, and step synchronization.  The teachers and administrators had our own little shaded viewing section decorated with bunting in the school colors and extra speakers to really ‘feel’ the music.  When I say feel, I mean it’s like your rib cage vibrates in time with the beat of the music!  Maybe there were no outdoor lunch boxes, but the two days were fantastic and it’s just another positive aspect of Teaching English in Thailand!

Now, on to more “So You Know Your In Thailand When” moments:

*You can get anything in a plastic bag here!  Yes, it’s true!  You can visit a series of sidewalk vendors and get a complete 4 course meal to go in 4 different plastic bags.  Ask for dinner and they’ll put it into a plastic bag – ask for desert and that’s another plastic bag – ask for a drink and you’ll get a plastic bag filled with ice and Pepsi that is tied off with a straw sticking out.  I wish I owned stock in the plastic bag companies of Thailand!

*Classic Vespas.  If you are a motor scooter aficionado – you will love it here in Thailand!  I have seem some classic Vespas that are in mint condition!  There must be some sort of Vespa Collectors Club here.

*Even if you are like me and hardly ever perspire at home, things will change here in Thailand.  You will sweat.  Period.  Just be prepared to take two or three showers a day!

*Just like in the UK, you must get used to drinking warm beverages here.  Many items are just drank at room temperature.  Or, you can (and probably will) do what most Thai people do and just pour your beer into a cup filled with ice.  Don’t worry, it only feels weird the first time – ha!

*I may have mentioned this before….. sewing machines just seem to pop up like mushrooms on the sidewalk!  These women are busy sewing all day.  What do they do?  What do they sew?  Where do the piles of clothes come from?  They seem oblivious to the crowds of people that rush by constantly as they pump away on their foot pedals….  Good for them!  I’m sure they are making more than enough for a plastic bag dinner!

*A fruit that looks like a Velcro tennis ball ??!!  C’mon!

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