Expect the unexpected at elephant polo competition

If you’re going to Asia this September, think about heading to Hua Hin in Thailand for the 10th annual King’s Cup Elephant Tournament from Sept. 4-11, 2011.

You never quite know what to expect or what will happen. It’s full of surprises – even for tournament organizers.

Take what happened during the 2004 championship: The umpire elephant (the elephant the umpire sits on) – named Plai Kampaeng, took a liking for the star striker, Pang Dodo, and decided to make his interest known. Dodo wasn’t having any of it and took off, followed by Plai Kampaeng in hot pursuit. In case you’re wondering, that’s why umpiring is now done on foot.

The tournament will be held on the grounds adjacent to Anantara Resort and Spa in Hua Hin, a two-hour-plus drive from Bangkok.

A 3,000-seat stadium is nearing completion. Visitors will be able to watch the matches for free. The competition has drawn 55 players from four continents, including the famous All Black Rugby Players, German Princesses and Olympic Gold Medalists.

This year’s event will be bigger than ever. New additions include Chang Noi Children’s Day, an opening parade with army bands, Thailand’s last elephant spirit men and traditional dancers. Fifteen local and international celebrities have been invited to paint and decorate an elephant replica, which will be auctioned off for charity at the final gala dinner.

The tournament has raised more than US$300,000 for the National Elephant Institute, which provides medical care, sustenance, employment and mahout training to Thailand’s elephant population. The world’s first elephant-assisted therapy clinic for autistic children was sponsored by the King’s Cup Elephant Tournaments in 2009 and 2010.

For further information: anantaraelephantpolo.com

About jimcarr

Freelance writer and blogger, associate editor of Spa Canada Magazine,
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