The Running of the Kwais: Trang’s Annual Buffalo Bacchanal

TRANGNobody ever lives their life all the way up, except kwai-runners.

Farmers have released about 300 buffalos to run freely on the island fields of Koh Sukorn off the coast of Trang – a kwai bacchanal that began April 14 and which will last two months.

“Kwai-running allows them to socialize and copulate without the need to import breeders [from farm to farm]. It also benefits farmers because the kwais eat weeds and naturally fertilize crops with their waste,” explained Ratree Jitlung, the Palian sub-district’s office director.

Unlike the thrashing, people-tossing bulls that run in Pamplona, Spain, their Thai water-buffalo cousins take a different approach to life. The kwais have free reign to munch on crops – especially watermelons, the island’s specialty – before making sweet, sweet love with the kwai of their eye.


Ratree claims that the tradition has been active on the island for around 90 years, though last week was the world’s first “official” kwai-running event.

Given free reign, some kwais decide to use take their time off to splash around in the surf. The Sea Kwais of Koh Sukorn, as locals call them, are a sight to behold for tourists.

The kwaication will last until mid-June, or the planting season, when the kwai owners – from about 100 households – will round the buffalos up to live on farms again.

“It’s kind of strange, but all the owners can remember which kwai is their’s. There’s never any problem figuring out whose kwai is whose during collection time,” Ratree said.


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