Happy New Year! What, you didn’t know it was New Year? Well, it recently was in Thailand, at least for the Buddhists, and it is now year 2562 over here. Songkran or Thai New Year ushers in the rainy season. The actual holiday is April 13 every year, but the celebration extends to the 15th (and even longer some places).
Although there are various religious aspects to the holiday, as a tourist, the main thing we got to participate in was the face painting and water fight.
As you walk down the street, your face will get painted. Apparently, this tradition started with a white paste only, but we saw all different colors. The paste is a sign of protection and wards off bad luck. Thankfully, we didn’t get slathered with paste, but some people were covered in white and blue and pink and green paste. And, as the paste gets wet, it drips down your clothes….it made for quite a sight. Pro tip: Don’t wear your best clothes on Songkran — we wore t-shirts with holes in them that are soon destined for the dustbin!
During Songkran, you will get very, very wet. Buddha icons are cleansed with scented water and then people are splashed with water, which signifies cleansing and washing away bad luck. Did I say splashed? Drenched is more like it. Pickup trucks drive around town with huge barrels of water and big bowls to throw the water at people.
People stand on the side of the road with water hoses. Almost everyone has a super soaker of some sort. Some of the super soakers even come with backpacks to hold more water. And some of the buckets and squirt guns have ice in them….
By the end of the day we were drenched. I mean feeling like I had taken a shower in my clothes soaking wet. You certainly don’t want to bring your good camera or phone out…. But you know what? It was seriously fun. And, nobody was mean — everyone had big smiles on their faces, nobody intentionally aimed the water at our faces, and everyone seemed to be having the time of their lives. Plus, certain unwritten etiquette rules were followed, like no shooting water into restaurants.
As the day wound down, the skies opened up and the rain started. A perfect ending to a perfect day. (Or, it would have been, if we didn’t decide to go to the DJ set where I promptly tripped over a big cable, went flying across a parking lot (Robert said he didn’t think it was physically possible for me to fly that far), and skinned my knee so badly that over a week later it still hasn’t entirely scabbed over…..).
Now, how do I convince Robert to be back in Thailand for Songkran 2020 (or 2563)?????