The truck ripped around the corner, almost taking me with it, but with one free hand I held the roof tight. I squinted past the sweat dripping into my eyes, and saw my assailants waiting for me. They lined the corridor as we rumbled into view. I aimed down my sights, and tapped the trigger.
Too soon, I thought… too soon.
My attack was wasted, and we were left wide open. With one massive yell they surged forward, and I didn’t have time to reload. The blast of their attack blinded me, and within moments their hands gripped my chest, pulling me over the side.
I reached into our supply and managed to pull a bucket free. With a cry of “hurrah!” I doused them as I slipped loose. I was rewarded with a laugh and a cheer, and knew I had succeeded. With a jolt we pulled ahead, ready for the rest of the run.
This was no ordinary water fight.
This was Songkran!
As you can probably tell, I am a huge fan of Songkran (Thai: สงกรานต์). From the time I was a little boy I have loved anything to do with water, whether it be boats, fishing, swimming or diving… I can never get enough. So needless to say it has long been a desire of mine to experience the nationwide water fight that heralds the arrival of the Thai New Year. I had lots of expectations going in, but it truly surpassed all of them. In one fell swoop it has become my favorite holiday.
However, even the best of things can be ruined by ill-preparedness, so I decided I would share a 5 “DOs and DON’Ts” that might help keep me out of trouble when you visit the Land of Smiles during Songkran.
The DOs and DON’Ts of Songkran
Do: Wear clothes that can be destroyed.
Don’t: Worry about appearances.
Yes, you will be doused, sprayed, dusted, and drenched. In addition to water, there will be loads of baby powder, colored paste, and prickly heat being applied by random strangers. Clothes will be decimated.
Do: Drink a beer or two.
Don’t: Drink and drive.
As much fun as Songkran is, and as much fun it is riding around the slow streets with a beer in hand, don’t forget to play it safe. During the festivities hundreds of people die from traffic related incidents, and most of them from drunk driving.
Do: Drink lots of water.
Don’t: Drink the water being thrown.
The water in Thailand isn’t always treated to western standards. So bring along a sealed source of drinking water, and take care to avoid swallowing the water dripping off of your face. It can get really hot in Thailand, and each year several people die of dehydration.
Do: Ride in the back of a truck.
Don’t: Ride in a car with the windows up.
Borrow, rent, or beg your way into the back of a truck. Load it up with as much water as the shocks can handle, and get on the road. If you sit in a car you’ll observe the fun that everyone else is having while you are missing out, and if you roll down the windows for a second… say goodbye to your car stereo.
Do: Buy a waterproof bag.
Don’t: Leave your electronics out.
Do I really need to mention this one? However, I imagine the statistics on cellphone and camera fatalities during Songkran are higher than the vehicular accident rate… Be prepared.
Those are the basics. I could go on and on about the proper water guns (bigger is better!), best roads (get surrounded!), or the many, many ways in which I am already preparing for next year…
However, the most important thing to DO is to go out and enjoy the day. It is the one time a year when everyone magically gets along and really cuts loose. From kids to the elderly everyone is wearing a smile. And I guarantee you will as well, even as the ice-cold water hits your face!