Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Chonburi Buffalo Races 2009: Where the Buffaloes Sprint

(If David Sedaris had gone to the Chonburi Buffalo Races of 2009, this would be the title of his initially ironic yet ultimately life-affirming essay about his experience.

This isn't that).

This past weekend I took a sixteen-ish hour bus ride down to Chonburi for the Annual Water Buffalo Racing Festival, which is a real event that was not made up by Sacha Baron Cohen to make fun of Thailand. This was so real. And I have the pictures to prove it, pictures of my Buffalonely Vacation in Bang Saen Beach and my day in Chonburi at the Buffalo Festival.

I have so many Buffalo pictures, in fact, that I am going to have to break this up into many, many posts; for, in the grand tradition of writers like Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thomson, Stephen King, and other authors who apparently don't need editors, I am going to include every picture I took that has sufficient light and is not of my testicles. That leaves me with well over one hundred pictures, down from---well, it doesn't matter. The point is, get ready for a lot of buffaloes and buffalo commentary.

But first, Bang Saen Beach, where the water is warm, forty dollars gets you a deluxe sea-view room in one of the poshest hotels in town, and the languages are Thai, Thai, and Thai. Also, English. But mostly Thai.

Let's get Bangin':

First, the hotel room. I was so excited by it that I took pictures of a few things.

Oh, clean sheets...like sleeping on a bed made of a baby's skin.

View from the bed. Movies I watched: Zero Effect, Band of Brothers (Ep. 7), and True Crime. It hardly mattered that the former and the latter were, uh, not great: they were the first movies I've watched on a television since coming to Thailand.

Flat-screen. Quite different from my apartment's television, which I believe was made by Tandy.

Those of you that know me best know that the first three things I did when I got to my clean new hotel room were:
1. Take a bath.
2. Take another bath.
3. Bathe.

I'm somewhere in the middle on this spectrum.

Also, Quentin Tarantino was in the room with me, and he wanted to take a picture of the humorous sign, too.

Thanks, Quentin.

It was too early to go swimming, so I went for a stroll down the walkway, lead me to the building. Here, before the opening of the umbrellae (Latin spelling mandatory).

This was happening at a bar down the street. I think it's like America's Next Top Model, except totally incoherent.

Across the street from the Sexy Leo Girl competition was a club/bar/mental ward called "Nob." Now, in order to hope to compete against something called "Sexibility Me," you need to have a really eye-catching, tempting slogan. I would say Nob's slogan accomplishes this and more:

Perhaps the most audacious slogan since Outback Steakhouse's "The Bloomin' Onion: Eternal Salvation Guaranteed" ad campaign of the late 90s.

Barchu et Adonai hamvorah, and welcome to Bang Saen Beach! You may be wondering why this monument is shaped like a Torah; but did you know that Bang Saen has the second-largest Jewish population in all of Thailand?

Nah, just kidding, I'm the only Jew on the continent.

The weather cleared up. Here's the view from my lawn chair.

You may think that trying to take a picture of a palm tree with a lighting tower next to it would ruin the show, but you'd be SHUT THE HELL UP

Some local toughs playing in the water.

The lighting for this photo, by the way, was done by El Greco.

When the sun went down I moved to The Sez Hotel pool, which I had to myself. Here's where I sat, reading a volume by Joyce and listening to a Satie concerto.

Haha, just kidding, I was getting ripped off cheap Thai whiskeys and whistling at the cleaning ladies.

(The truth is, uh, somewhere in between).

More El Greco photography. 

Xanadu was the name of the hotel restaurant, where a stately pleasure dim-sum menu they did decree!

Seriously, I think I'm ready for the big leagues of copywriting.

Who doesn't, really?

I saw this magazine at dinner, and it had two great headlines that pertained to me directly. First, the "We Love Farang" thing. And second:

You can leave your snide comments either in the Comments section, or, if they are really mean, in my email inbox, where I will read them and laugh and laugh and laugh...

So, those are all of the photos from Friday. Unfortunately, one of the bad things about Bang Saen is, there's nothing to do at night, which is really just

Heh. Oh right--THAT.

So, yeah, that is all for Friday. Saturday morning brought the Buffalo Races and TONS more pictures of buffaloes, cock-fights, absurd Thai people, racism, and much, much more. I'll get those up tomorrow.

But be warned: there is A LOT of buffalo.

And racism.

But mostly buffalo.

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