Hmong Kart Racing-Hmong New Year

Discussion in 'Festivals & Events - S.E. Asia' started by SilverhawkUSA, Jan 18, 2011.

  1. A few of us have been trying to find out where and when the hill tribes were having a much talked about downhill wooden kart race. X-Centre staff finally came up with a date of 8 Jan 2011, and a location in the hills off of the Samoeng loop. I went looking for it, and although not exactly where stated, it wasn't too difficult to find.


    I saw all these signs on the side of the road, and there were row after row of teenagers on scooters heading in that direction. As I went up the road, I also passed many pickups loaded with people in Hmong dress.

    It started as a paved road, but then changed to dirt.


    It wasn't too bad, as the locals were doing their usual 2, 3, and 4, persons on a single scooter. Closer to the village they were using water on the road to keep the dust down and it did get a little sloppy.

    As I came up on the village I was amazed at what I saw. Without exaggeration. there were hundred's of Hmong people in some of the most beautiful native dress I have seen. And I can say I have been to many hill tribe events, but this was one of the largest. As it turned out, it was Hmong New Year and Hmong from 12 villages were descending on this location. I didn't think I would see something like this so close to Chiang Mai.


    There was music and dancing, games, FOOD and more food, and some extremely friendly people. I only saw a very small number of foreigners, and 4 of them were friends from the X-Centre.

    But I digress; this is about Kart racing


    Your basic Kart can be made of only wood, except for the tires (it appears there is an exception to the seat also).

    Excessive oiling of the wheels and wooden axles appears to be good thing. Although this piece of lumber, left on the side of the track, found that using a unique hand activated oil pump did not stop the wheel from going it's own way.


    The karts are hauled to the top by rope attached to a pickup a truck and looped through the karts trailing behind. It didn't take long for them to find out that;

    a) the rope wasn't strong enough
    b) the karts had a mind of their own and following in line was NOT part of their thoughts.


    People scrambled to stop the karts as they broke loose and careened backwards down the hill.

    Once at the start, the were launched from the top of the ramp fairly rapidly.


    It was the flagman's job to raise a green flag when the karts were released, and a red flag when they were clear. This was to clear the track of all the people milling around on the course between downhill runs.

    Sometimes he even payed attention.

    Then they came...........




    There were many styles and techniques and of course spills.

    This made a pit stop in the middle of the track to replace his wheel. After it came off twice more, he tried to hold it on with his hand as he finished the course.

    These two looked as if they decided one would wear the Hmong shirt today, and the other would wear the pants.


    As in all wheeled racing, they fought to reach that finish line with all their effort and skill. They would throw the kart into a final "slide" as they veered around the corner, through the crowd, at the finish line.


    I arrived at approximately 9:30AM and I had to leave at 12:30pm and they were were still going. I wish I could have stayed longer. The whole New Year's event was pretty spectacular.:clap:

    I have no idea how everyone got out of there. When I left, trucks and cars were parked on both sides of the road with barely enough room for a small car to get through the middle. Some were starting to leave, and many were still coming single file up the road. It was a standoff that I had great difficulty getting through even on the bike. :crazy:

    I hope we can find it again next year as they usually rotate locations! :wave:
  2. Fantastic. I would love to witness this unique event. Will watch out for it next year. Great pictures too, many thanks.
  3. I tried to get up there with My Kids and got pretty Close but after being Stuck in a Traffic Jam in the middle of Nowhere for over an Hour I was so P***ed I turned around and tried to get back out! This took another Hour so ended up taking the Kids to Airport Plaza instead!!! Actually had a Great day as meet up with Pikey & His Missus so Our Kids Played together and We got to have a Beer, Thanks Mate!!! Going to any HillTribe event on a Motorbike is the Way to Go. It was Total disorganised Chaos, Rough Narrow Single track Dirt Road with Idiots trying to go Both Ways and No one to Direct them! A Far from well Organised Event! Looks like they did a better Job at the actual Location!!! Great Photos Dave! Glad someone actually got to Enjoy the Event!
  4. I made my way out early - 7am - following the post from Ian/Bungy from late the previous night. As Ian indicated "just look out for signs, hilltribes people & lots of pick-ups". Followed the same road as Dave, under similar conditions to find a massive gathering of Hmong people, a feast of colour, a wonderful setting.

    I wandered up the track photographed by Dave, a track clearly indicative of go-kart racing, past several grounds laid out for play where Hmong men busily played a game involving a wooden spinning top flung from a long cord attached to a wooden handle. The aim is for opposing team members to dislodge the top flinging other tops at it from a distance of around 15-20 metres (Davidfl would know the proper name?). The woman (& some men) were playing a more social/less competitive game involving throwing black fabric balls amongst themselves.

    Large numbers of Hmong were assembled by a scenic lake above the village & paraded down to an assembly point just before 9am. I asked one lady the name of the village where we were situated & believe she told me "Huai Sieo" (does this help Davidfl?)

    Figuring that I had missed the go-kart location (given the times indicated by Ian), arriving in error at the New Years celebrations, & as I had visitors staying & pre-arranged rendez-vous to keep, I left around 9am.

    So very pleased Dave arrived later & had greater luck. I'll post some photos on Davidfl'a Hmong new Year post (once i meet with David, computer in hand!)

    Thanks Bungy for the tip (see you this afternoon for my daughter's jump) & Dave for another great report.
  5. absolutely brilliant!! A real treasure to get the chance to spectate at this event I'm sure. Great write-up Dave.
  6. great event,thanks for the pics,will have to try and get to next years`.
  7. Wow, a hill tribe Soap Box Derby!
    Wonderful pictorial & write up, Dave!
    I love it, brought back memories of my kid days.
    Hopefully, we'll have prior notice on their next event and I'll attend.
  8. Great vehicles! Unusual that each and ever driver apparently had to wear a helmet, indication of potential speeds!

    May sound banal but it might be even more exiting to watch this than F1 simply because absolutely everything is so very human.
  9. What a great write-up (I've only just stumbled on it)...and a great event!! Caught my eye because we have one in a village near where I live ( ) - but this one looks so much better!! I really like the formula all wood too. Next they'll be introducing control tires !!!
  10. Hmong New Year 2011-12
    should be December 25-26 in some villages.
    Check 'em out.
  11. This looks like a total blast! I want in!
  12. According to the Hmong in Pang Kia on R1263 Mae Na Chon - Khun Yuam they too will be celebrating on 25 December 2011.
    So it looks like it could be a good time all round for Hmong New Year around Dec 25th.
    As they celebrate for more than one day, a few days either side should get you some Hmong New Year activities & ball throwing courtship.

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