Last update 3/11/2011 1:30:00 PM (GMT+7)

Elephant race at coffee festival

VietNamNet Bridge - The Dak Lak provincial People’s Committee opened a coffee exhibition on March 10 as part of the third Buon Ma Thuot coffee festival.

There are 650 pavilions set up by more than 180 local businesses and 18 foreign enterprises from Europe and America to showcase different kinds of coffee products, assembly lines, technologies and processing equipment as well as scientific research works on coffee trees.

The same day, an elephant race and dug-out canoe race were organized by the Dak Lak Tourism JS Company, with the participation of 20 elephants and 20 dug-out canoes.

40 elephant keepers are on the backs of 20 elephants at the point of departure of a 140m race-track.

In the qualifying round, four teams, each comprising 5 elephants aged 23 to 45, raced each other and the first five qualified for the final. Each elephant was ridden by two handlers who prodded the animals to run as fast as they could.

An elephant named H’Tao from Yang Tao Village comes first, followed by Y Kham Sel Eung and Pak Lanh from M'Lieng and Le villages.

Swanny Henry, a French tourist, said this was the first time she had seen elephants.

"I did not know there was an elephant race today, but it is exciting and wonderful, " she said, adding that she wanted to dig deeper into the Central Highlands and make more "surprising" discoveries.

Annie Maisonneuve, 32, from Quebec, Canada, said she felt "very fortunate" to see the elephants for the first time. She was also not aware of the race and seeing it was a bonus.

Although he has been living in Viet Nam for 17 years in the resort city of Nha Trang, it was the first time that Canadian Sylvio Lamarch, 54, had the opportunity to see an elephant race.

"It was great fun," said Lamarch, who runs the Jungle Beach Resort north of Nha Trang.

A dugout canoe race was also held on Lak Lake, attracting 60 rowers from Jun, M'Lieng, Yang Tao, Le, and Chua villages.

Each of the 20 canoes was rowed by three local young men who spared no effort as they raced in the strong wind towards the finishing line.

The events, organised by DakLaktourist, welcomed the 3rd Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Festival and celebrated the town's Liberation Day (March 10).