Saturday, September 10, 2011

Stranger in Bangkok witnesses the epic battle of stag beetles

I spent my 30th hatchday in a small village 50km from Chiang Mai city called Doi Lo. In my ex-company, I grew tired of flying the world setting up booth after booth in various world-renown international trade fairs, but with a cruel twist of fate, I found myself leaving my poor wifey at home in Bangkok and spending my milestone birthday sweating my pants of setting up a stall in an annual carnival/night bazaar in rural Northern Thailand. Talk about a fall from grace!

But well, every cloud has many silver linings, and I am already used to taking positives out of everything that points against me (more so after I came to Thailand). In spite of the scorching heat in the day, when my colleagues and I gulped down cup after cup of coconut juice, and threats of heavy rain at night, I found myself increasingly immersed in the joyful atmosphere of an annual carnival in a small village.

I began observing in amusement the various assortment of dogs running around.

Cute dog, but look at the number of soft toys the game booths have to prepare every night

Wait a minute, that's not a dog, that's a cow!
I laughed at a trio of adorable 2-yr old triplets chasing each other around in front of my stall, with their young and slim mother watching closely behind.

I pretended to be shot and struggling for my life when 2 boys walked past firing their noisy toyguns at me.

I took pictures of a group of friendly schoolgirls, which they gladly obliged.

They LOVED taking pictures, their male counterparts beside them were all running away from the camera!

I watched in amazement as families of 5 came in a single scooter, and middle-aged women trotting around in their pyjamas as if they were sleep-walking.

But the day climaxed when I saw something that made me realise what I had lost (or never had) in my childhood. While I can still remember very clearly how my secondary school friends and I spent our boring time in between lessons trying to taste sweet victory stacking our erasers over one another, people in Northern Thailand are going ecstatic over epic warfare between stag beetles!

Stag beetles ready for battle

Their horn is tied onto the stick, which doesn't allow them to escape. They feed on sugar cane and rotting fruit.
From what I understand, just like stags, male stag beetles fight for mating rights. During their mating period at the end of every rainy season (which is round about now), they would detect the scent of their female comrades and start locking horns to win their bride. Capitalising on this order of nature, villagers would catch these horny males and pit them against one another on a piece of hollow log which houses a female for excitement and prize money.

Stag beetles locking horns in battle over a female that is hidden in the hollow log

I witnessed one of these epic battles myself. It's highly intriguing, as both beetles fight for their lives over love. A fallen beetle is not a beaten beetle, he can pick himself up and resume battle. The game only ends when one beetle decides to retreat and give up. No beetle deaths are incurred in this game, just a lot of lost pride and cash for the owner of the defeated bug.

This is undoubtedly one of my weirdest birthdays yet, but I kind of enjoyed it. You have to watch the video below to understand what I mean.


  1. What a way to spend your birthday. Hehe really interesting I must say though I believe you would very much want to spend it at home. Happy belated birthday!

  2. Thanks FT

    It's never too late. Yeah, I would never have expected to spend my first bday in Thailand like this, esp with my wife finally here, but we always have to take the positives!



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