Daily Life :: Sports & Recreation
Kickboxing or muay Thai (pronounced moo-ay tie) is Thailand's most popular spectator sport. Many people pack arenas to watch the sport and gamble on the result of the matches. Before a match begins, there is dancing and music to pay respect to the trainers. Opponents fight using all parts of their bodies, except their heads.
Takraw (pronounced tah-kraw) is another popular sport. It uses a hollow ball made of rattan (woven palm stems). Players may use their heads, legs and feet but not their hands to hit the ball. Some players can perform amazing acrobatics with the ball.
There are two ways to play takraw.
Kite flying is a popular pastime for children on a windy day. During March and April, kite competitions are held in Bangkok where four small, quick female kites called Pak-paos (pronounced park-pow) with jagged glass glued to their strings fight against one big male kite called Chula (pronounced choo-lah). To win, a Chula must force a Pak-pao into Chula airspace while Pak-paos try to crash the Chula.
Nang Talung is a traditional shadow puppet show from southern Thailand. The flat two-dimensional puppets are intricately carved out of cow or buffalo hide, then painted by hand and mounted on bamboo sticks. Each puppet has jointed "arms" and is manipulated behind a white cloth screen with a source of light to cast shadows. This shadow play is similar to wayang kulit in Malaysia and Indonesia.