Five photos together of people playing Sepak Takraw in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

A picture is worth a thousand words, right? So this is, like, a 5000 word essay, right?

In Myanmar they play a game called Chinlon - a bunch of guys standing in a circle, keeping a woven rattan ball in the air with any parts of their body except their hands. North Americans can think of hackeysack if you remember that fad, although the ball is quite different. The Burmese can get very fancy doing this: I saw some of them hit the ball with incredible control even when they couldn't see it - hitting the ball with the sole of the foot behind their back, or with the knee outside their arm, and sometimes twisting about with both feet in the air standing on one hand. I was fascinated, and watched people play all over the country. I also found out that there's a variant that's played with two teams on either side of a net. This game appears to be popular all over Southeast Asia, and it's called Sepak Takraw.

Takraw pits two teams of three players against each other on a court the size of a badminton court. The net is set at five feet. The rules of play are very similar to volleyball, but the ball-handling rules would be much more familiar to a football player (soccer to you North Americans). Now think about this: all you have to do to spike the ball is get your foot about seven feet up in the air and kick diagonally downwards. I can't do this, you probably can't do it either, but there are lots of people who can, and I would love to see a professional game. The guys above were playing after getting out of class at a local college in Chiang Mai. There's even a Sepak Takraw Association of Canada!