Soaked and Smile Lines from Songkran

Soaked and Smile Lines from Songkran

Splash! Songkran is here! It’s Thai New Year and one of the funniest holidays I know.  Its origins are of cleansing Buddhas and paying respect to elders and monks. Now it’s more like the whole country is in a huge water fight and the center of it all is Chiang Mai.

Some friends of mine asked if I wanted to ‘play’ Songkran with a bunch of people. They had a truck (a purple truck :)) and would be driving around the moat with us throwing water and getting water thrown on us. There would be some adults and also some children. It sounded like the way to do things. It is the hottest time of year in Thailand and the end of the dry season – let the water throwing begin!

Preparing for Songkran in the back of the purple truck before we left

You can see us throwing water, but might not be able to tell there are not only several bins filled with water, but also a baby pool filled with water in the back.

Buckets, squirt guns of various sizes, and lots of water comprised our artillery. Our water had delicately scented flowers to keep with the cleansing tradition, despite the water guns.

We were prepared for the fun as we left and headed to the old city.

This cute little girl in the white dress was an indefatigable water thrower.

Songkran is a holiday for all ages.

I quickly realized that although people of all ages were participating, to my mind the best age to be would be somewhere around 10-12 years old. Luckily, we had some kids representing those ages in the truck. Songrkran is a good time, but it’s a better time when it’s spent with kids.

Best age for Songkran? 10-12.

Regardless of all the sitting in traffic and the water throwing, people were peaceful. My friend commented that in England people would be fighting. I agreed and added the US too. Can you imagine any US city with a big water fight and people not getting angry? I cannot. Here in Chiang Mai the only people I saw getting upset were the foreigners.

Songkran water shooting with smiles. It looks like it’s raining in these pictures. It isn’t. In fact it’s been very dry. All the water shown is from people throwing or squirting it.

Carefully pouring the motorcyclists going by, though not everyone is so careful

3 on a motorbike getting splashed on Songkran

Does it look dangerous? (I mean the water throwing on moving vehicles – 3 young people riding a motorbike without helmets is the norm here). Yes, well, I agree throwing water in the face of a motorcyclist is not a very wise idea. It happens, as do accidents, but the general vibe is one of fun.

As if there was a fire, people banded together to get water out of the moat.

It’s a crazy celebration, but all in good fun or sanuk the Thai word for fun.

The Fahrenheit forecast for the Songkran weekend. It was 88 at 10 am.

After riding around in the back of the truck and getting drenched for hours, even though the forecast was balmy, I actually got cold. I decided to ride inside the truck for a while, which was the only safe place to take pictures. This video shows a 25 second snippet of what was happening outside:

Most of the Songkran festivities fall within 3 days in the middle of April. Besides throwing water, it is also Buddhist cleansing ceremony. I poured jasmine flower infused water over my Buddha images and brought lotus flowers to a wat in Chiang Mai. Supposedly this will bring me luck for the ‘new year’. {FYI – the current year in Thailand is 2555, which began on January 1. The Buddha was born 543 before Christ, hence the calculation. I can write 2012 or 2555 as the date, but when dealing with the Thai government it’s 2555.}

Classic water throwing of Songkran

throwing moat water – keep your mouth closed

My friend Alana and I thoroughly soaked on the third day of Songkran.

…and Alana getting splashed with ice cold water

It’s good fun, but by the end of the third day, I was ready to be dry again. Overall, I laughed so hard, I’m sure I added more smile lines to my face.

สุขสันต์วันสงกรานต์ – sook san wan Songkran – Happy Songkran!


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