When the weather gets warmer….

It appears that the latest craze in Southern Isaan is for Water Parks and so when the weather gets warmer, here are some ideas of where to cool off.

In Buriram Province, the Play La Ploen Boutique Resort has become established as a great place for families to spend a day, or longer, enjoying the multitude of activities on offer. Located about 35 kilometres north of Buriram Town on the road to Phutthaisong (just north of Khu Muang), the park offers a selection of adventure sports and water sports to keep kids and adults amused all day. There are activities for all ages and there is a hotel onsite too. Wall climbing and zip lining are just two choices and you can buy a ticket that includes everything or you can pay separately for each event. There is food and drink available onsite and there is even a hotel attached too.

A Fun Day Out

A Fun Day Out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the same distance to the south of Buriram, the recently opened Siriya Park is a few kilometres to the west of Prakonchai Town, on the road to Nang Rong. It opened in 2015 and has a couple of pools and a choice of slides. Again, fun for all the family with food and drink available.

Closer to the town centre is the Water Play Park in Baan Yang, a few minutes out of town on the road to Satuk. Similar to Siriya, there are slides and two pools. There is also a shaded area for parents who would rather relax than enjoy the cool water. (I wonder if they could ban wifi here!).

Away from Buriram, there is a children’s water park open at The Mall in Korat. The pool is surprisingly large and features some long water slides and plenty of shade for the parents to hide under. I imagine that kids can play, assuming they’re able to swim, while the parents eat and shop.

Most recently opened is the water park at The Greenery Resort in Khao Yai (Nakon Ratchesima Province). This large water park has a huge wave pool, a great selection of slides and plenty of space to chill and watch everyone having fun. It opened in the last week of January 2016 and looks like being a huge hits with the tourists, both local and international. There is accommodation onsite and plenty of options around the area too.

Looks like fun!

Looks like fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you just wish to swim, of course there are some public pools around. Buriram Town has an Olympic size pool and Nang Rong has a public pool too. Most hotels will also let you make use of there pools for a small charge.

Enjoy the upcoming hot weather. Get some sun cream and have a fun day out.

 

The 2015 Football Season is over in Thailand

 

Buriram United 2015

Buriram United 2015

The concluding game of the season, on 26th December was the showpiece FA Cup Final between the two top teams in the country and the two fiercest rivals. Like the rest of the season, it became an exhibition of how strong Buriram United have become as they romped to a 3-1 victory over Muang Thong to secure a clean sweep of trophies this year.

In fact, such is the dominance of the team from the south of Isaan that the last time they lost a game of any sort was in the AFC Champion’s League back at the end of April. Since then, they have dominated domestically remaining unbeaten for the whole season. It looks like the tactic of keeping a coach for the entire year has worked well for them; their team even managed to have 7 players in the TPL Team of the Year.

For most of the 2015 season, there was little sign that Buriram United would finish so far ahead as they were pushed most of the way by Muang Thong. Special praise should go to Suphanburi who finished third but have cruelly been denied a place in the 2016 AFC Champion’s League by stadium regulations (their place going to Chonburi who finished fourth). At the bottom, TOT were relegated with some games to spare and on a very exciting final day, Port went with them alongside BEC Tero, one of the front runners from 2014. Navy finished the season with a real burst having looked relegated two months earlier. In 2016, we welcome Police and Pattaya back to the top flight with the final place still to be decided. Top scorer, by a long way, with over 30 goals was Diogo Luis Santo, Buriram’s Brazilian striker, who I’m sure the fans will want to stay for another year, at least. br

Top Scorer 2015

Top Scorer 2015

In the FA Cup, Chainat came close to making it all the way, valiantly going down to Buriram in the semi-final. Bangkok Glass, winners in 2014, were dumped out by Buriram in a reverse of fortunes from their winning season.

In the Toyota League Cup, it was wonderful to see some of the smaller teams making an impact deep into the competition with Phrae, Lamphun and Khon Kaen all making it to the quarter- final stages before succumbing to bigger clubs. Nobody will forget the sight of the Lamphun stadium bursting at the seems on a rainy night in August as Buriram strode into town. I’m sure the whole town was there, up trees, standing on cars, trying to get a glimpse of their glamorous opposition. The crowd got behind them and they secured an 0-0 draw, a game they actually deserved to win. In the end, it was Buriram United who met Srisaket in the final, a tight affair between the two teams from south Isaan; the game finished 1-0 to Buriram but it was a great occasion especially seeing half the National Stadium turned orange by the Srisaket fans.

As you might expect, players and coaches from Buriram United picked up the end of season awards and with them already strengthening for next year, it’s going to take a major effort from someone to overcome them in 2016. Thanks should go to all the fans who made the games great to watch. Mention to Nakon Ratchasima, the second best supported club with some of the most vocal fans. For those who’ve never seen a game in the Thai Premier League, try to visit one time. It’s a great experience.

The Rise of Buriram United

As most of you know, here at www.nangrong.info we are huge followers of our local football team, Buriram United. This week, the website http://thesefootballtimes.co/ has published a wonderful article about our team. The text is published below. Please read and enjoy and thanks to all at TheseFootballTimes. Thanks to Paul Murphy for writing this. Any questions, please contact him here:

NESTLED IN NORTH EAST THAILAND, 400km from the gleaming skyscrapers and tourist traps of Bangkok, at first sight Buriram seems an unlikely place for a football revolution to be taking place.

The north east of Thailand is considered the poorest part of the country, with many internal migrants heading to the capital in search of job opportunities. Buriram has a large Khmer influence, bordering Cambodia to the south. The province’s biggest tourist attraction is Phanom Rung Historical Park, a complex of Khmer temples set on the edge of an extinct volcano.

But now there is a new attraction that brings in thousands of football fans every year. Buriram doesn’t just have the most successful football team in Thailand. It also has a 4-star Buriram United-themed hotel next to the stadium and an international Grade A motorsport track.

When Thailand’s Premier League (TPL) began to include provincial teams in 2007, the club didn’t even exist. In US sports style, Buriram effectively took over a ‘franchise’ club when PEA FC (Provincial Electricity Authority) moved to the north east from Ayutthaya in 2010.

Backed by the financial clout of local politician Newin Chidchob, a brand new stadium was built just outside the city centre. On the pitch, the club soon made a big impact, winning the domestic treble in 2011, when still known as Buriram PEA.

Incredibly, after a rebranding as Buriram United in 2012, the upstarts caused some upsets in the AFC Champions League. The Thunder Castle defeated Japanese champions Kashiwa Reysol and Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande in the group stage. The winning goal against Guangzhou was scored by Frank Acheampong, a Ghanaian winger who had previously been on trial at Manchester City and Celtic.

The Thai side lost the other four games and finished bottom of the group but these victories served notice that they would no pushovers. Acheampong’s potential was noted by Anderlecht in Belgium and they signed him on loan before making the deal permanent. He has since gone on to establish himself in the Belgian top flight.

Buriram failed to retain the TPL title that year but they were the best supported team in the league, with average crowds of approximately 15,000.

Having lost the title, the club soon hatched plans in place to win it back. Just as they had discovered a gem in Acheampong, Buriram’s scouting network scoured the world for talents that would take the team to the next level.

After the successful capture of central defender Osmar Ibáñez in the middle of 2012, Buriram looked to Spain again. In came Spaniards Javier Patiño, a 25-year-old striker from Córdoba in Spain’s second tier, and Carmelo González, a 29-year-old playmaker from Sporting Gijón, who had represented Spain 12 times at under-21 level.

Despite having to qualify through a playoff, Buriram would enjoy an even more successful Champions League campaign in 2013. The Thais progressed from the group stages and defeated Uzbekistan’s Bunyodkor in the last-16 before succumbing to Iranian side Esteghlal in the quarter-finals.

Former Real Madrid assistant manager Alejandro Menéndez replaced Englishman Scott Cooper as head coach late in the year and the Spanish signings inspired Buriram as they regained the title from increasingly bitter rivals Muang Thong United, before sealing a domestic treble with victories in the FA Cup and League Cup.

When Venezuelan international defender Andrés Túñez was signed from Spain’s Celta Vigo in the summer of 2014, the Spanish speaking influence was peaking and the end of the season would see some changes. Buriram would again be champions but failed to win a cup competition and fell at the group stage of the Champions League, winning just once.

Menendez left, while Patiño’s fine form had caught the eye of Henan Jianye in the Chinese Super League and he signed for them early in 2015. González was allegedly told he was ‘too old’ at 31 for the Champions League and was allowed to join TPL rivals Suphanburi.

Brazilian head coach Alexandre Gama arrived and immediately made his country’s influence felt. In a league in which clubs cannot have more than five overseas players in their squads, the departures of González and Patiño made space for Buriram’s most audacious signing yet – Brazilian striker Diogo Luís Santo.

Diogo was once hot property and several big European clubs were weighing up a move for him before Olympiakos took the then 21-year-old to Greece for €9 million in 2008. Unfortunately, the move did not really work out and the striker has ended up in Thailand via loan spells and short-term deals back in Brazil.

There had been similarly high hopes for former Arsenal starlet Jay Simpson when he arrived at the start of 2014 but the striker never settled and scored just one league goal before returning to England to play for Leyton Orient. But Diogo has grasped the opportunity in Thailand with both hands. Unlike failed marquee signings like Robbie Fowler, Jay Bothroyd and Roland Linz at Muang Thong United, Diogo has knuckled down and is top scorer in the league, with a goal almost every game.

To partner Diogo, fellow Brazilian Gilberto Macena arrived from Hangzhou Greentown in the Chinese Super League. Macena has also given value for money with an impressive all-round game in addition to a fine goal tally.

The form of both was particularly significant in this year’s AFC Champions League group stage. Between them, they scored seven goals in six games as Buriram finished level on 10 points with the more fancied Gamba Osaka from Japan and Seongnam FC from South Korea. Unfortunately for the Thais, they lost out on the head-to-head rule despite having a superior goal difference to their two rivals.

Despite the disappointment, it was further evidence that this team from Thailand could compete and thrive at a higher level. The club are now on course for another domestic treble, though a tight TPL run-in with Muang Thong lies ahead.

Although the club’s success has put Thailand and the province on the map, Buriram United’s success has also created some resentment.

Newin is not the most popular figure in Thailand and some question how his personal wealth has been ploughed into the club and lament the lack of financial transparency in the game. The fact that Buriram and Muang Thong have formed a duopoly at the top of Thai football in a short space of time is evidence of the financial mismatch between them and other clubs in the country.

Going to a game in Buriram offers a different experience from many other teams in the country. Unlike many other clubs who are forced to lease the provincial stadium from local governments, Buriram have a new purpose-built stadium that holds over 30,000. Outside the ground on match days, there is vast open space where families picnic and friends gather for pre-match beers. The atmosphere is convivial, relaxed and welcoming. In the true spirit of football, the club clearly acts as a focal point for the local community.

Inside the stadium, spectators can get a reasonable view from any angle, unlike at many other clubs where stadia cater more for athletics than football crowds. From my complimentary seat, courtesy of the club hotel, I recognise other hotel guests in the same section. There are couples, groups of elderly expats and sometimes four generations of the same family sitting together.

Before the match there is the unusual sight (for those not familiar with Thai football) of the club chairman and benefactor leading the team talk instead of the head coach. Newin stands in the centre of a circle of players and is very animated as he tries to demonstrate what victory means to him.

Once the action gets underway, the most striking feature is the choir in the enclosure singing and dancing their hearts out in careful choreography. Fans of rival teams have often complained about this choir, suggesting that they are not real fans but cheerleaders on the payroll of the club owners. You cannot help thinking that they have a point when you see this group, numbering in the thousands, going through the songbook in unison, with what appears a complete lack of spontaneity.

While the choir is one thing that Buriram United may not have got right, there is no doubt that they have done plenty of other things well. Buriram have facilities that would put many European clubs to shame. As well as the new stadium, they also have a purpose built training ground a few kilometres down the road.

In the Thai context, it is a club ahead of its time and rivals are disappearing into the distance as the Buriram juggernaut drives on. Only Muang Thong United have remained capable of challenging them this season but most pundits believe that Buriram will eventually prevail.

From a standing start, Buriram United have become the best team in Thailand and have their sights set on becoming one of the best in Asia. In the most recent AFC club rankings, the club rank 17 in the region but the ultimate aim is to be a fixture in the top five. Given that they started from next to nothing just a few years ago, it is an ambition that has to be taken seriously.

World Touring Cars at Buriram this weekend

 

 

Thanks to WTCC

Thanks to WTCC

This weekend (31/10 and 1/11) the World Touring Cars circus is coming to our own Chang International Circuit for a festival of speed and skill. It’s the first time this event has been held here (and the first time for an FIA event in Thailand) and it promises to be a wonderful weekend of racing with the potential for a world champion to be crowned on Thai soil.

The season has 12 races of which this is the penultimate race, the final one being in Qatar in November. Currently, José María López is leading the standings from Yvan Miller and a high placed finish will confirm him as World Champion.

The Buriram Chang International Circuit is located 400 kilometres north-east of Bangkok and can be reached by road, rail or air, the nearest airport being Buriram Airport, 30 kms north of the town.

Buriram is one of the most up and coming towns in Thailand, not only hosting the racing circuit but also the current Thai Premier League football champions, Buriram United.

Coame up and enjoy the racing, enjoy the town and explore this lesser known area of Thailand.

 

Buffalo Racing

What would you think when someone asks if you want to go buffalo racing? Something similar to horse racing maybe but without the jockeys. Of course it has to be without riders because who, in the right mind, would happily sit on top of a buffalo as it raced along a track.

Race Time

Race Time

Well, it appears that there are plenty of people willing to take part in this sport, a sport that must be unique around the world. Starting on October 26th in Chonburi province, Thailand, less than 100 kilometres south of Bangkok, is the annual Chonburi Buffalo Racing Festival. 

The buffalos are coaxed down a straight track with cheering crowds roaring them on and it’s the job of the jockeys to stay on and ride their beast at the fastest possible speed. Entrance is free and there is usually a mixture of locals and tourists who come to watch. This year (2015) is the 144th time this event has been held.

Miss Buffalo Beauty Pageant

Miss Buffalo Beauty Pageant

 

Aside from the races there are also other events such as the Buffalo Beauty Pageant. For more information contact the local authority here.

Meanwhile, here’s what it looks like!

Thai Premier League – Latest Update

We’re down to the last 10 games of the Thai Premier League and it’s developed into a straight two horse race between the current champions, Buriram United, and the team leading by the slimmest of margins, Muang Thong.

The next two months should serve up some nail biting moments and, on paper, Muang Thong have the slightly harder games as they still have to face the 3 teams occupying 4th (Ratchaburi), 5th (Chonburi) and 6th (Suphanburi) places, the most challenging possibly being a home game with Chonburi on October 28th. Buriram, meanwhile, have to face Bangkok Glass who are in 3rd and having a great season; these two have also faced each other in the league, FA Cup and League Cup so far this season with the team from Rangsit yet to register a win.

At the bottom, BEC Tero and hovering dangerously close to the relegation zone, 3 points separating them from disaster and, for a team who pushed Buriram all the way last year, this is quite a fall. They’ve suffered hugely off the field and the effects are being felt by the players. TOT,who are the bottom team now, seem to have their work cut out, especially as they face the top 2 in their next two games, starting with a rather daunting trip up to the Thunder Castle this Sunday.

Also in the relegation spots are two of last season’s promoted sides, Siam Navy and Saraburi, who have both struggled in the TPL this year. Between the relegation places and BEC we find Thai Port who are performing well below par too. It should be a straight fight between the bottom five now but it could get very interesting.

Back to the top and we expect this one to go down to the last game, as it did in season 2014. Muang Thong and Buriram and form teams, both having won their last five games and I predict them to continue that streak this weekend as Buriram host the bottom side and Muang Thong play Chang Rai at home.

2014 Champions Buriram United

2014 Champions Buriram United

It’s Boat Racing Season in Buriram

Long Boat Racing returns to Buriram Province at the end of October with the weekend’s fun starting on the 31st October and finishing on the 1st of November.

If you’re anywhere close by, head up to Satuk District, about 40kms north of Buriram Town and get down by the river.

The boat racing takes place on the Mun River over the two days with long boats being catapulted along the water by crews of between 30-60 people ferociously paddling for the honour of being this year’s champions. The teams come from all over the province as well as from other provinces and it’s a spectacle of colour, passion and all fueled by the odd glass of “Lao Khao”, just for medicinal purposes.

Jump in your car, grab a picnic and come and enjoy the fun.

It's a colourful occasion

It’s a colourful occasion

Thanks to www.buriramtimes.com for the use of the photo.

Thai Football Season – The Final Stretch

The Thai football season is entering its final few months and as we approach the climax to the season we have the usual suspects battling for trophies and medals. In the Thai Premier League, it’s Buriram United level on points with their greatest rivals, Muang Thong United, but the team from northern Bangkok are leading on goal difference after an amazing weekend where both teams won 7-0! Chasing them in third place are Bangkok Glass but they are a distant 8 points behind and it’s looking very much like a two horse race now. Who is going to trip up first, we shall have to wait and see. Last year it went down to the final game and looks like it could do so again.

We are #GU12

We are #GU12

The Thai FA Cup is at the quarter final stage with the ‘Big 3’ of Chonburi, Muang Thong and Buriram all still involved although one will certainly disappear this week as Chonburi have the pick of the games with a home tie against Buriram.

The League Cup has reached the semi-final round with Buriram United yet again still chasing the trophy and yet again being drawn against a tough opponent in Army FC.

It could be another season where the team from Isaan win everything to they could end up with nothing. The next 3 months will show us the character of the boys from the Thunder Castle and nobody would be too surprised if they claimed at least two trophies, much to the dislike of the teams in Bangkok. What has been fun this year is the new rivalries growing. Buriram and Muang Thong have always been short on friendship but with Uncle Newin’s team meeting Bangkok Glass so many times in one year and BEC Tero upsetting a few people with their tactics, as well as Korat and Srisaket adding some healthy competition in Isaan it’s shaping up to be a great final few months.

The Candle Festival

Wan Khao Pan-Sa (วันเข้าพรรษา) is the start of the Buddhist Lent period which runs for three months. Associated with it is a festival of Candle Making, the traditions of which are explained here.

In Nang Rong there is a parade which floats and music. Some of the highlights are featured below.

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doing it 'Old School'

doing it ‘Old School’