Monday, November 22, 2010

Foreign Sporting Events for Partying Travellers

When visiting a foreign country one of the best ways to have a good time while experiencing the local culture and drinking the local beer is to attend a sporting event.  I try to make to as many sporting events as possible as long as it is affordable and licensed to serve alcohol.  While tickets to professional sporting events here at home in Canada can run upwards of $100 there are many great and highly affordable options to be found in lesser developed countries. Even if the sporting events you attend while travelling busts the budget a bit they can make for some of the best and most memorable experiences.

If you are visiting Thailand, be sure to catch a Muay-Thai Fight. Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand and is higly enjoyable to watch.  Nearly every Thai city hosts an weekly fight-nights that can be attended at a reasonably low cost, if you don't mind sitting in the nose-bleeds. Smaller Muay-thai training centres like those on the Full moon party Island of Koh Phagnan offer cheap entertainment that, although catered to tourists, is authentic and highly enjoyable.  Never will you see so many people getting kicked in the head in one night.

Professional Football(Soccer) games in Eastern Europe  
Football or soccer is engraved in the culture of Europe, however, attending a match in Western Europe can be very expensive (although arguably worth it).  For those looking to experience all the passion of European soccer without the European prices I would suggest attending a game in Eastern Europe.   I attended in a SK Sigma Olomouc game a few years ago in the town of Olomouc, Czech Republic and the cost (for the cheapest seats) was a mere 50czk ($2.75).  I checked their website today and the price remains the same!  This is a team in the top flight of Czech football and I can assure you there games are exciting and fans are passionate. Many other football clubs formerly behind the 'Iron Curtain' offer similar prices.

Cricket's popularity in North America is almost non-existent; however in countries like Australia, England, India and Pakistan cricket has a major following.  If cricket has little or no presence in your home country make sure to see a match when travelling in one of the world's cricket powers.  I attended a test match between Australia and Pakistan last year and, although I still don't understand the rules, it was a great day of drinking beer in the sun.

Bull Fighting
Bullfights can be a great, but gory, experience in most Spanish influenced countries. Bullfighting season in Spain runs from March to October.  The most prestigious of such fights is held for the fiesta of San Isidro in Madrid. Bullfight tickets vary in price according to their position in the bullfighting arena. The ones in the shade (sombra) are more expensive than the ones in the sun (sol). Seats located closest to the bullfight are also more expensive than those near the back. So ones near the ringside barrier (barrera) which are also in the shade are the most expensive. Ticket prices vary considerably depending on the bullring, the bullfighters and the occasion. Tickets for corridas usually cost from 20 EUR to 100 EUR, although tickets for the cheaper seats in a novillada are usually less than 10 EUR. Be prepared for a bloody but memorable main event.

Cock Fighting
Nicaragua, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Philippines, Peru, Panama, Puerto Rico, Canary Islands, and Guam have arenas with seats or bleachers for spectators surrounding the ring and is popular throughout all of Southeast Asia. In many countries, the spectacle of cockfighting is as popular as baseball and American football are in the United States.  If you are unfamiliar with cock fighting, it is pretty much exactly as the name states.   Two cocks(roosters) enter a ring and only one leaves alive. Much like the bullfighting, it is a very gory spectacle may have you craving some fried chicken.

What 's not to like about watching two obese men in diapers pushing each other around.  There are six Grand Sumo tournaments (or honbasho) each year: three at The Sumo Hall in Ryƍgoku, Tokyo (January, May, and September), and one each in Osaka (March), Nagoya (July) and Fukuoka (November). Each tournament begins on a Sunday and runs for 15 days, ending also on a Sunday.  While the tourney is on, fights run throughout the day with the biggest fights happening in the evening. You are free to bring your own food and booze making it a nice bit of Japanese culture that can be combined with getting drunk.

Any Sport The the Locals Love
Attending any sporting event that is cherished by the locals is sure to be a blast.  The passion of the home fans rubs off quickly even if the sport itself was previously of no interest to you. Be it rugby, ice hockey, handball, baseball or Indonesian bull-racing, if the locals go nuts for it, you may just go nuts with them.
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