Sepak takraw is a dazzling spectacle especially for western eyes. It can be seen played in the city’s public parks, fairgrounds, city streets, on construction sites or anywhere with just a few feet of open space. It seems that those acrobats have been kicking the rattan or plastic ball since their childhood.

The modern version of sepak takraw is fiercely competitive and began taking shape in Thailand almost 200 years ago. The rumor says that many variations of the game evolved from an ancient Chinese military exercise, where soldiers would try to keep a feathered shuttlecock airborne by kicking it back and forth between two or more people. As the sport developed, the animal hide and chicken feathers were eventually replaced by balls made of woven strips of rattan. In Bangkok, the murals at Wat Phra Kaew depict the Hindu god “Hanuman” playing sepak takraw in a ring with a troop of fellow monkeys.

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