Songkran – Happy Thai New Year!
Love it or hate it, Songkran is celebrated once a year in April, from the 13th to the 15th, although they like to stretch it out a bit, sometimes for up to a week. How could you possibly not love a new year’s celebration? It depends on how much you like water…
…when it is dumped over your head, ice cubes and all!
The pouring of water on people is meant as a symbol of washing away sins and bad luck, and long ago, people walked around with bowls of water, sprinkling a few drops on you.
It has since turned into a crazy water fest where people, all in fun, go a bit nuts for 3 or 4 or 7 days, using every means possible…
…water guns, hoses, and barrels of water, preferably with ice cubes just to make things more interesting.
People of all ages participate, old, young, and in between, and the epicenter happens to be in Chang Mai, where I was staying.
A lot of drinking goes along with the celebration, and not just drinking water. There is music and dancing, and driving doesn’t stop, but being in a car or tuktuk or on a bicycle or motorcycle does not make you immune from a dousing. Unfortunately, that brings along with it a lot of accidents.
Statistics show the death toll from road accidents doubles during Songkran. If they have an average of 27 road deaths per day during the rest of the year, that figure shoots up to 52 during Songkran, along with many drownings. Most of the accidents during Songkran are motorcycle accidents, and most are caused by drunk driving. In 2014, during Songkran there were 204 deaths in Thailand and 2,142 injuries by the end of the 3rd day. They don’t call it the 7 Deadly Days of Songkran for nothing. This year the death toll increased to 364 deaths, 3,559 injuries and 3,373 accidents. Not to put a damper on things, just saying…
Many restaurants close during Songkran as the proprietors do not appreciate soaking wet customers drenching their chairs, plus they want to be off celebrating themselves. Need to stock up on groceries? Better plan ahead, as walking to the store will get both you and your bags soaked.
And forget about taking your computer to the local internet cafe unless you want a dead machine. That goes for phones and cameras as well. Most of these pictures, the really wet ones, are courtesy of my friends Sabine and Yogi, who had a waterproof Go Pro and were kind enough to share some shots.
As for me, I shopped ahead for several days of groceries, thankful that my guest house had a shared kitchen…
…and then I holed up for the better part of 4 days.
This did not prevent some culprits from invading the interior of the guesthouse, but luckily their targets were some young ladies of their acquaintance and not the rest of us.
I did go out and check on the fun a couple of times, just to experience what it’s all about.
When in Thailand during Songkran, you’re going to get wet, so a bunch of us accepted that fact, braved the streets by foot, and arrived at our friends Songyi and Maurice’s apartment for a pool party, where showing up wet, we fit right in. It was a truly international event, with guests from all over the world…
…including friends I’d met at the meditation retreat weeks before from Germany, Brazil, the Netherlands and South Korea. Songkran is what you make of it, however that most certainly includes getting very, very wet!