Songkran Adventure: Thailand's New Year Water Festival

  • google home advertising programsApril is Songkran, the Thai Year. Thai people celebrate three new years every year: the typical Gregorian one at January 1, Chinese Year, and Thai New Year. Did I mention that Thai people like to have fun?

    Songkran is also known in English as 典he Water Festival・ Inside the Buddhist temples, priests conduct ceremonies pouring water over people痴 hands while chanting a prayer.

    Around the streets, however, is when every one of the action is.


    Today, my Thai assistant and I were out contributing to looking at rooms in hotels, as my lease comes to an end tomorrow and I have been searching for a smaller, cheaper place. We checked out four today alone, and that leads us as much as 9 or 10 (I forget exactly) throughout the last about a week, plus innumerable telephone calls.

    While walking out from the parking lot of 1 hotel, I used to be suddenly splashed with water, and that i don稚 mean a sprinkle, I mean a bucketful. I was shocked, of course, and then quickly pointed out that it being Songkran, I should have known better. My Thai assistant also got pretty wet. We walked about 20 or 30 feet, and all of an abrupt, wham! Another bucket water. Now the only thing you can do is laugh and try and wipe water from your eyes before it happens again.

    We stood within the lobby of another hotel, so that as it takes place, there was a group of eight young adults about 20 feet away, laughing hilariously, each equipped with a bucket, a big pot, or a water gun. All of them were inside their 20s, not kids, and all were completely soaked. Two were women, the rest guys. The women were wearing identical purple sarongs, and appeared as if hotel employees. These folks were standing on the sidewalk, watching the road. Whenever a motorcycle came by, they flagged it down, and doused the rider and passenger. Same task for your 3-wheeled open taxis (tuk-tuks). All were drenched. Occasionally, a pickup truck (砥te・for you Aussies) will come by, full of young people within the back. The trucks always stopped in front of the group, plus they sprayed one another. Each person in the back of your truck was armed with something to throw water with, or squirt with. In one truck, there have been 15 people, which range from about 6 to 26, inside the back. Soon after minutes, the truck managed to move on, looking for another group.

    This holds on all day, every single day, for around 5 days, I do believe. This is the first day.

    I saw one young woman who'd two large, yellow water tanks on her back, and a hose resulting in a massive plastic water gun which she held with two hands. In my day, a water pistol would be a little black plastic thing that you had to refill every minute. Not these babies, though, she was easily carrying 10 litres of water.

    Once we were watching safely out the window, a senior Muslim man with long white beard, white robe, and white cap strolled past. Nobody squirted him.

    Then an older Thai lady pushing a food cart walked slowly by, pushing her heavy cart, which has two large bicycle wheels, and two smaller wheels. She was already wet. She eyed this group warily, and certainly, the two women squirted her.

    I left the safety of the hotel lobby and dashed across the street to an Bank, where I acquired even more money. My ATM card, which had been within my wallet, was wet, but the machine accepted it anyway. After I experienced my money, I position the receipt and money in my pocket, and transformed. I noticed two young women, again within their early twenties, on the fourth floor from the building down the street having a big tub of water along with a couple of saucepans, and they were letting fly at anything appropriate 40 feet below.

    Just then two dark skinned men walked past the gang, plus they got squirted. I noticed there have been a number of Arabic signs about the buildings, and realized they ought to be Arabs, even though they were not wearing traditional jelabas, these folks were wearing Western clothes. They were squirted, not badly, but got angry, and yelled at the band of Thais. So obviously they were given squirted again. One of many Arab men then ran quickly out of range, nevertheless the other turned his back, obviously very angry, and walked stiffly away. So naturally, the Thais squirted him again.

    And I was thinking, 滴ow dumb is it possible to be?・You arrive at a foreign country in which the customs are totally different, and also you get angry with all the locals because they're following their traditions.

    My assistant and i also walked up the street, at risk of the Skytrain station. There were to pass through by another number of teenagers, and I discovered another section of the ritual. I'd pointed out that many taxis and cars were smeared with something white, which I first thought was bird poop, and then, since i have saw so much of it, thought has to be paint or clay. Wrong. Works out it痴 just flour, and it痴 smeared on your face for good luck.

    As we walked into this second group, among the teenage girls tried to smear the powder on my small face. This really is after four others had each thrown a bucket water at me. Individuals were laughing and giggling and achieving a grand time. A fifteen year old girl reached for my face, together with her hand covered on this white goop. However grabbed her hand, and moved it around facing her face, and he or she squealed and laughed and backed away quickly.

    Then I got another bucket of water in the rear, drenching my backpack and my tail.

    We walked on, yet another group doused us.

    At this stage, being a normal male, I noticed one more cultural difference. If this type of ended up The united states or Australia, all of the girls might have been wearing T-shirts, and none might have worn a bra. A massive wet T-shirt contest. Not so in Thailand. Individuals were appropriately dressed for a normal day trip, and all of the Thai women wore a bra. My assistant, as an example, was wearing a company suit, and she knows exactly about Songkran.

    Eventually, we made it to the main street, and my assistant squished her in place the steps to the elevated station. There was a KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) nearby, so I made a decision to head there, since it was now dinnertime, and I haven稚 had an investment of Grease and Cold Fries for 7 or 8 months now.

    Four from the KFC employees were out front having a big bucket and small pots. These were in uniform, and yes, these were dousing everyone.

    I entered center, and immediately started shivering, because the place was air-conditioned. Outside, it absolutely was a fashionable 33 degrees C, but inside it was just 23 or 24. Being completely wet, I had been cold. I pointed out that there have been two employees with mops wiping the floors, and i also was, myself, leaving a trail water when i squished my strategies by. I made my method to the counter, the location where the menu will be the usual stuff, along with a few spicier things for the Thais, and ordered my usual three pieces and fries plus a Pepsi. I reached for my money, together difficulty extracting it, as it was all stuck together in a wad in my wet pocket. The ATM receipt only agreed to be a blob of pulp.

    After i got to my table with all the food, I took the wad of income and dried each note using a serviette. I quickly opened my wallet; I keep my charge cards and frequent flyer cards and some paper notes in separate plastic pockets. Each card was wet. The lake had penetrated to the wallet and into each plastic sleeve. Amazing.

    After dinner, I hailed a taxi cab, generating it back to my hotel without further incident. Once there, I literally wrung the water from my clothes, and then made a decision to throw all things in the laundry.

    Making this Thailand痴 Year. Sanook mahk!

    Happy New Year. Now quick, duck!


    I transferred to a new, cheaper hotel, and spent 6 hours unpacking and establishing three computers plus a network, obtaining the Internet working, etc.


    I spent all day every day programming by evening was pretty tired. I'd a leisurely dinner of Thai food inside the coffee shop inside the hotel, and then decided i necessary to stretch my legs. Since I was getting lacking money, I made a decision to produce a visit to an ATM the evening痴 project. I had noticed on a map earlier that Silom, one of the primary streets of Bangkok, was apparently in easy reach of my new hotel, so made a decision to head that-a-way. I knew there would be lots of shops and restaurants and many ATMs there, i really could stop to get a Pepsi somewhere before heading back.

    It痴 still Songkran, the Thai New Year Water Festival. I read in the Bangkok Post the festival lasts different lengths of your time all over Thailand, varying from 3 days to five. Friday night was the last evening of the Songkran celebrations in Bangkok.

    Now at this point, someone should have taken me roughly by the shoulders and pushed me on the wall, and slapped my face a few times to get my attention. 典his. Is. The. Last. Night. Of. A. Five. Day. Water. Festival. Get it?・br />
    Um, well no, not really. I mean, I read the words within the newspaper, but the things they implied was lost in translation.

    I knew there is the opportunity I may get wet, and so i removed my wallet and didn稚 bother with my backpack. I have already been carrying a backpack having a backup hard disk drive with all of my work with it, should the hotel burns down or collapses within an earthquake while I知 out. (Hey, I used to be a Boy Scout, and that we were taught 鄭lways Be Prepared!・. But in my other excursion, the padded cardboard box protecting my hard disk drive got pretty soggy, so Friday, I chose to forego the backpack.

    I took a small business card with all the hotel name and address, and my very own business card with my name about it (just in case someone found my body), my ATM card, how To make A girl squirt over and the little money I had (about $16). I took a look at the map, memorizing the streets in this area, then folded the map, and set it in my backpack, that i intentionally left out. I find that, if you are planning to discover a strange city through the night, it痴 much more sa-nook (fun) with no map, and anyway, as being a former Boy Scout, We have an infallible feeling of direction.

    I made my way out with the hotel, found a few rocks in the event of dogs, generating my approach to the main street, several blocks away, where I discarded the rocks. These folks were unnecessary. The lane I needed was directly next door from which I had been standing, right next to the Citibank headquarters, according to my map. But there have been six lanes of traffic along with a canal between me and it, so I needed to walk several blocks for the nearest intersection, where I could require a pedestrian bridge across the road.

    Thailand has many catchphrases which were used through the years: 鄭mazing Thailand・ 鏑and of Smiles・ and 摘xpect the Unexpected・come immediately in your thoughts.

    I learned years back that 摘xpect the Unexpected・applies to any or all procedures in Thailand. In western countries, you can be confident steps is the same distance apart, and all the same height. Not in Thailand. Chances are, the step height changes from everything you expect, where there will be a minumum of one or two steps which are either vastly taller or vastly shorter. If you池e not careful, you are able to fall flat in your face going upstairs (I have carried this out) as the foot unexpectedly trips over a step that's too tall. Going downstairs, I usually hold onto the railing and peer through my bifocals wanting to determine beforehand whether I知 planning to break my neck.

    Whatever the case, I managed to get over the bridge, then walked back the other side from the road until I came across the lane alongside Citibank, with only two false starts, that ended up being driveways for other buildings. As I知 standing facing this narrow lane, deciding if I really want to do this through the night, a tall foreigner using a German accent asked me basically spoke English. 添es,・I replied, 的知 from Canada.・br />
    泥o you understand which you could eat in the restaurant without being wet?・br />
    Um, well, as far as I understand, you can eat in any restaurant without getting wet. We appeared to be on several wavelengths, so he toddled off one of the ways, and that i toddled off down the lane.

    Turning the corner, I saw a truck ahead, filled up with young people with buckets of water, stopped in conjunction with the road. Oh, oh, how to proceed, what to do? I stood in a doorway, hidden from view. A woman came walking from a side lane, and looked startled at seeing me hiding inside a dark doorway. options sign I pointed at the truck up the street and yelled 鉄ongkran!・and she laughed and walked on. I'd thinking that if a new woman was unafraid about walking down a dark lane alone at night, I, an early Boy Scout, could certainly make my way past your truck. Therefore i stepped out, and merely at the time, the truck pulled away.

    I walked down the lane, which twisted and curved around, so that as I elapsed an intersection, another truck came around the corner and i also got squirted a couple of times. I stepped onto, and was ready simply to walk past an apartment building once i heard someone laughing. Looking up, I saw four young men having a big bucket and some pots, and so i quickly crossed the street and continued on. I achieved a main street without further incident, and continued walking towards Silom.

    Or so I thought.

    I had been looking for Convent Road, that we knew would take me right to Silom. I found an intersection, as well as the sign said it was Convent Road, however it was not going the way I thought it ought to go. So, unlike most men, Gurus for directions. A young woman came along, and that i said 典a-nohn Silom tee nai?・which means 迭oad Silom where?・which is the place you ask a matter in Thai. She pointed across town, matching exactly what the sign said. So my infallible sense of direction was pointing me 90 degrees faraway from where it will have pointed; it was pointing this-a-way and it must have been pointing that-a-way. Well i guess, generally seems to me Irrrve never ended up getting all of my Scout merit badges.

    I walked down Convent Road towards Silom, and undergone an area of four years old or 5 restaurants alongside. This is one of many great pleasures of Thailand. The sidewalk was crammed with tables, over 100 people, with barely any room to squeeze through. Nevertheless the smells are incredible・all that Thai food, cooked there in the pub, just fantastic. I looked within the restaurants, plus they were all empty. Everybody was outside enjoying the atmosphere. I enjoy the smells of Thai food, however i can稚 consume the spicy stuff.

    I got to Silom finally and was impressed by all the people. There was lots of people, covering the road. Silom has six lanes having a large median in the centre, that has huge pylons holding up the SkyTrain. There is an individual lane of traffic, moving very slowly, mostly trucks filled up with people furnished with water pistols and buckets and pots of water. The sidewalks as well as other lanes were filled up with people doing exactly the same thing. Loud rock music was playing from several directions.

    Oh, now I am aware. The last nights a five day water festival. Party time.

    I had been about the south side of Silom. Where I wanted being was on the north side, which is where the majority of the restaurants are and where I knew there was a number of ATMs. The SkyTrain station was right above me, and 50 feet off to the right of where I was standing, would be a long stairway as much as the station. The issue was, there were more than a hundred people between me and the stairway, and so they counseled me armed.

    Well i guess, in for a cent, set for one pound.

    I slowly made all things in the crowd to the stairway, getting squirted a few times, but not too badly, considering.

    I climbed the steps, didn稚 fall in my face, making it towards the platform. Standing there, I'd a bird痴 eye look at the throngs of men and women. I moved around a bit, watching from various places, and made my way on the stairs on the north side.

    The crowd was thicker on the north side, and i also found myself being pushed along by the people because they moved right into a side lane en masse. OK, I had no particular destination in your mind, and so i just went combined with flow.

    Forty-one in years past, I were walking along a primary street in London, England, at exactly 5PM, when abruptly, a huge selection of people came rushing at me. Arrived to go home from work, and everyone left concurrently, and rushed at me. I obtained trapped, turned around, and was pushed and prodded until I had been running in addition to them. We went into the Tube entrance, and down three incredibly long old-fashioned escalators, until we had been 200 feet underground. I obtained pushed up against a ticket booth, where I needed to give some funds for a ticket to someplace I knew nothing about, then pushed to the platform, when the train came, pushed to the centre of a carriage. It was three stops before I could force my way to avoid it from the train, and then I was faced with the possibilities of figuring out a few things i would do 200 feet underground in the huge city I knew nothing about. I still keep in mind that experience 41 years later, but it痴 filed under 擢un Some tips i Have Done・ not 滴orrible Experiences We have Endured・

    Now it absolutely was happening again.

    The lane was narrow, where there were a huge selection of people. Along the sides were plenty of young people furnished with buckets water, water pistols, and one guy stood a hose, that she squirted on everyone. Within a few moments, I had been drenched. There was an incredible amount of noise, rock music, people laughing and squealing once they got splashed. I kept my on the job my pockets, protecting my money, while i was pushed and squeezed by people deeper and deeper to the lane.

    I was squirted from your side, as well as the water entered my eyes. I needed to put my on ons toys the job the medial side of my face to protect my eyes from all of the water.

    At some point, I happened to lookup and saw, being a freeze frame, a bucketload of water coming at us, a meter above our heads. I ducked, and sure enough, my back was drenched. Then moments later, two more bucketloads hit me in the rear.

    Just then, I heard some tall people yelling at each other, saying something similar to 典his is stupid, how can we get out?・I couldn稚 predict my glasses, because they were steamed up and all sorts of wet, nevertheless they were obviously foreigners. The tallest one started bulling his answer toward the main street, inducing the people around me to lose their balance and squeeze even closer together. Now this can be a dangerous situation; this is one way people get crushed and trampled. Fortunately, it eased up as everyone else adjusted as well as the bulls made their way to avoid it of the lane.

    The crush of people eased just a little, and something cold splashed my back. I transformed, and a young guy was scooping cold water out of a big cooler filled up with Cokes. I yelled 哲am kaeng!・(ice) at him, and he laughed and agreed, and offered to throw an additional bowl of cold water at me. I declined, so he changed his angle slightly and threw it at the rear of a new girl who promptly squealed.

    At some point, a guy offered me a fierce hug and yelled 滴appy New Year!・in my face from six inches away.

    The crowd kept moving forward further into the lane, and i also chose them. I knew there was a street parallel to Silom, and so i thought I'd just go towards the end of the lane, and have a taxi home following that, and lose focus on in regards to the ATM for tonight. But as I went further, the group stopped moving and that i discovered that this specific lane was a dead end. I stood there, in hindsight at 2000 people, wondering easily had the power to achieve that again. Suddenly I acquired squirted again. I was standing next to a bar by having an open door, therefore i quickly ducked inside and stood dripping inside their entrance.

    The bar was mostly empty, and loud rock music was playing. I squished and squelched over to the bar, and ordered a Pepsi Cola.

    The lady reached for a Sprite and a Coke and made like she was going to pour them together in to a glass.

    Whoa! Misunderstanding here. I yelled within the music, 哲o, just Pepsi Cola・

    She delayed the Sprite.

    哲o!・I yelled, 撤epsi!・br />
    She delayed the Coke.

    I nodded my head, and she or he poured the Coke right into a glass with ice, and brought it to me where I had been standing around the bar.

    I reached into my pockets for my money and discovered I needed no money. Well, I still had some coins and my ATM card along with a blob of pulp that inside a previous life ended up business cards, however the bills were gone. That guy who was simply hugging me was probably pinning my arms while his light-fingered friend was lifting my money. I never felt something.

    I got out the coins I still had. The drink was 60 baht ($2) but all I needed was 40 baht and some cents. I pushed it at her, and then yelled 適amoy!・(thief) and showed her I'd you can forget money. She looked uncertain in regards to what to complete, but then developed a motion which clearly meant 敵ive me more money・ I yelled 適amoy・again, and went through my little pantomime again, then suddenly realized that the loud rock music I was listening to was Spanish Techno-Rock. As well as the name of the bar was 哲oriega痴・

    Expect the unexpected.

    Here I am, standing dripping wet, listening to Spanish Techno-Rock, in the Spanish bar in Thailand, with no money, struggling to buy a drink. How weird is always that?

    There was a Spanish-looking guy, having a pony-tail, standing close to the doorway. Four to five young guys arrived, and he stopped them, and asked them in Thai whatever they wanted. I was told that they desired to utilize the toilet, and he said okay, but he made them leave their guns around the counter. I知 thinking, this is simply being a Western movie. The children put their water pistols on the counter generating their method to the washroom at the rear of the bar. Once they left, I was thinking that was a good idea, maybe I could dry out just a little, and so i returned too, but there have been no paper towels with no hand dryers. Sigh.

    When I went back for the bar in my drink, Specialists the Spanish-looking guy if he was the master, Noriega. He was quoted saying, yes, he was, and the man had escaped from jail together a facelift. He's probably told that joke one thousand times, however laughed. He explained that his father was from Chile and had married a Thai woman, anf the husband, Noriega, was created in Thailand and spent all his life here. And the man didn稚 speak Spanish, only Thai and English.

    I told him a kamoy procured my money, i didn稚 have sufficient to cover the drink, and that he asserted was OK, then reached behind the bar for his wallet, and got one hundred baht note (about $3) to give to me for a taxi home. I thanked him, declined, and told him I used to be walking distance away. Then he demonstrated the back door, which resulted in a parking area, and said that I possibly could steer clear of the crush out front by going out that way.

    Therefore i did that, but the problem was, that lane lead returning to Silom, and then there were lots of people. Sigh.

    I stood there, watching encounter, and planning my next move. I didn稚 want to get caught up in a crush again. While i was watching, a tall, skinny German-looking lady, maybe 65 years old, appeared facing me and squealed and laughed. Someone had just squirted her inside the back. She made her way throughout the lane in front of me, and someone squirted her again, and she squealed again, so then two lots more people squirted her.

    There have been stairs ultimately causing the SkyTrain station, and right near them, an ATM. Only 200 people between me and them. Sigh.

    I stepped out to the sidewalk on Silom, and very shortly, a young man stepped directly before me holding a tiny plastic bowl half-filled with white goop, the flour slurry. He slopped some for both my cheeks and grinned at me; I reached into his bowl and smeared his face, too, and that he said 滴appy New Year!・ I said 滴appy New Year to you too!・and turned slightly and saw a new woman grinning at me. She slopped some goop in my face and I did the same to her, so we exchanged greetings, most of us grinning like maniacs, flanked by noise and hustle-bustle.

    And now I buy it. The last evening of a five day water festival. Happy Year.

    And I知 with the silly ritual we practice in Western society where everyone wears a celebration hat and stands around drinking beer or wine until close to midnight, and then everyone counts down from 10 to 1, then kisses the person next to them, and then blows a loud horn. The Thai strategy is a lot more sa-nook.

    To make a long story longer, I made it to the ATM, climbed the steps to the station platform with no damage myself, purchased a 30 cent ticket, rode destination, and got off near my hotel. Then i discovered two convenience stores which i hadn稚 been aware of, therefore i stopped and purchased several supplies. Yet another cultural difference: both stores sold milk through the litre, but neither sold large containers of orange juice, only small drinking boxes. But both stores had 8 or 10 types of green tea extract in litre bottles. I passed.

    I walked two blocks to my lane, and stopped to grab a few rocks to throw in the dogs, if required. It had been necessary. As I approached no more the lane, two dogs came bounding out, barking furiously. Why do they also have to be guard dogs? Why can稚 they be guard cats or guard canaries? Maybe because saying 的 was attacked by a guard canary・just doesn稚 have the same ring.

    In your own home in the hotel, I used to be shocked after i looked inside the mirror. My hair was plastered to my head, my neck and face were covered in flour, my shirt and shorts were dripping wet, coupled with many flour blotches. I could see my nipples and chest hair from the T-shirt. I had been a walking wet T-shirt contest

    I took flu shower with all of my clothes on. Yet another cultural difference: in Canada, for those who have a cold shower, someone will have to call an ambulance and treat you for hypothermia. In Bangkok, a cold shower is really quite pleasant.

    Anyway, I知 a 堵lass is half full type of guy・ not a 堵lass is half empty guy・ Taking stock from the situation, I'd a neat adventure, accomplished my goal of having money from an ATM, transpired some roads I hadn稚 been before, enjoyed some wonderful smells, got plastered (literally), wholesale best pocket and discovered a couple of convenience stores conveniently located near my hotel. And all sorts of it set me back was $16.


    Happy New Year.