Songkran, Wats, and Dancing Shrimp in Phayao

Songkran, Wats, and Dancing Shrimp in Phayao

The date I left India was no accident – I wanted to be back in Thailand for Songkran. Songkran is Thai New Year’s Day from April 13 -15. Traditionally people throw water to cleanse away the old and welcome the new. People also visit Buddhist temples, and their families. Throughout the country Songkran becomes an at least 3-day long water throwing festival, and it is difficult to go anywhere without getting wet. Chiang Mai is the center of the biggest Songkran celebration and I’ve enjoyed the past two years of the festival in the city where I live. This year it was time to try somewhere new – Phayao.

I arrived back from India on the night of April 11th, and the next morning was on a bus headed to Phayao. My friend and colleague Mark had reserved me a bus ticket, and in my travel weary state, I took the journey to Phayao to meet him and his girlfriend there. When I arrived, it was already a raging water party.

Taking photos is a tricky thing to do during Songkran because everything gets wet. Bangkok Airways even handed out plastic protection purses to keep valuables from getting soaked. All of these Songkran photos and video were taken through that very plastic purse, please forgive blurriness.

Armed and ready for Songkran in Phayao

Bucket in hand and ready for Songkran

Riding in the back of a truck/swimming pool

Riding in the back of a truck/swimming pool

In front of the lake in Phayao

In front of the lake in Phayao

 

Splashing water everywhere

Splashing water everywhere

Armed for fun

Armed for fun

Mark showing the colored chalk paste that is also put on people's faces. This doesn't happen in Chiang Mai.  Apparently the chalk has roots from the monks blessings. I thought it was from Holi festival in India.

Mark showing the colored chalk paste that is also put on people’s faces. This doesn’t happen in Chiang Mai, so I was kind of surprised. Apparently the chalk has roots from the monks blessings. I thought it was from Holi festival in India.

I took this video as an attempt to show the huge amounts of water. While walking through the crowd, I couldn’t see what I was filming. Water was continually being thrown at me and paste was being put on my face…

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After all the splashing, we enjoyed snacks by the lake at sunset

Mark came back to the table and said to the group of us, “I ordered something that I love, but Elizabeth will hate.” It was dancing shrimp. I’d heard of these before, but never seen or eaten them. They are small shrimp that are still alive, but are then ‘cooked’ in the spicy sauce put on them. Here’s what they looked like:

Pretty afraid to try dancing shrimp

Pretty afraid to try dancing shrimp…

I surprised everyone, including myself, when I tried one. I couldn’t handle eating it while it was still moving, so I waited until they stopped. It was actually really tasty. I had a few more with some sticky rice.

...but I tried them anyway

…but I tried them anyway. They were much better than my pre-tasting face shows

We decided to go when it started getting a little buggy

We decided to go when it started getting a little buggy

At Cupcake coffee shop

Next morning at Cupcake Coffee shop – a dog shaped cake? Why not!

I got my camera back to the guesthouse before all the splashing took place

I got my camera back to the guesthouse before all the splashing took place and left it there for the day. Thankfully Mark had his camera and gave me some of the following shots of the day.

More funny food - Period

More funny food – Period

These were some of the first Songkran revelers we met

These were some of the first Songkran revelers we met that day

...the nicest biker gang you'll ever meet - Grandiose

…the nicest biker gang you’ll ever meet – Grandiose

I wanted to join them

I wanted to join them

After spending the day getting soaked, I retreated to the rooftop patio.

After spending the day getting soaked, I retreated to the rooftop patio.

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Songkran is fun, but after 2 days of constantly being soaked, we took a trip to some temples

Songkran is fun, but after 2 days of constantly being soaked, on the third day we took a trip to some temples to make merit

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I rode on the back of Mark's motorbike and we still got splashed a lot, but the trip was worth it to end up at Wat Analayo

I rode on the back of Mark’s motorbike and we got splashed a lot, but the trip was worth it to end up at Wat Analayo – what a stunning wat in the forest on a hill

Putting coins on the year of one's birth animal

Putting coins on the year of one’s birth animal

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Scaffolding Buddha

Scaffolding Buddha with protective nagas

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That was one huge Buddha

A huge Buddha

A hazy view from atop Wat Analayo out toward the lake in Phayao

A hazy view from atop Wat Analayo out toward the lake in Phayao

Nagas were a theme of the day...

Nagas were a theme of the day…

 

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…then we saw a snake in a tree.

We ended the day at a waterfall.

Boombin looking lovely at the waterfall

Phayao, I will be back. Thanks for your wonderful wats and Songkran splashes. So happy to be back in Thailand!

 

 

 

 

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