Wednesday Write-up: A Wet Songkran

This past Sunday was the beginning of Songkran, the Thai New Year, here in Thailand. Songkran is a country-wide water fight held every year from April 13th-15th. Depending on where you live (or are visiting) in Thailand, the celebrating can last one day to 6 days. In Phuket we celebrate it one day, the first day of Songkran on the 13th, whereas in Chiang Mai it lasts for 6 days at least.

This was my first Songkran. I have been to Thailand many times in the past, but have never timed it right to be here when the water fights were happening. I decided that I would write today about what we did on Sunday. Chad is going to write a helpful post on Friday to help you if you choose to visit Thailand for this fantastic party, so make sure to check it out, follow, and share if you would like to.

On Saturday, our friends and neighbors started a water fight to prepare for the big day. We tested out our massive water guns on each other, as well as on some of the neighborhood kids. We were all drenched and laughing. Z proved to be quite a good aim with the garden hose. It was a good way to get her (and me) prepared for the public water fights the next day.

Z getting ready for the next days festivities.
Z getting ready for the next days festivities.

For Sunday, we had made plans to hang out with our friends, who have a little girl near the same age as Zoë. We arrived at their place with swimsuits and sunscreen on, towels in tow, and beers chilling on ice.

We started on our drive at around 11 am. The boys started off in the back of the truck to assess the craziness of the water fights before we let the girls partake in the festivities. I sat inside the truck to try to take some pictures. All of us girls listened to music, talked, and laughed at all the people getting doused with water along the way. That includes our guys in the back, who were soaking wet within minutes of starting our drive.

Never have I seen anything like the Songkran water fights. Cars, trucks, and scooters were crawling down the streets that were lined with people throwing water from containers of all sizes. I tried to get good pictures, but it was difficult from the cab of the truck, and there was no way that I could have gotten pictures outside of the truck without having Chad’s camera ruined with a wayward splash. So I am going to let Chad use most of them in his post on Friday.

A truck full of people ready to soak everyone around them.
A truck full of people ready to soak everyone around them.

After one trip going from Rawai to Nai Harn we stopped to refill our water tanks from a kind person’s hose. I hopped out and got in the back of the truck to help the boys with the water throwing. Z and her friend were still not really interested in getting wet, so they stayed in the truck. I was quickly soaked with freezing cold water as someone came up and poured a bucket over me before we could drive off from where we had stopped. It was hilarious and shocking! I quickly got into the swing of things and was throwing water at all the people that we passed by, trying to get them before they could get me.

Water fight!
Water fight!

What fun it all was! Everyone was laughing and yelling “Sawasdee pi mai ka” (or sawasdee pi mai kop in they were male) and having a good time. Along one stretch of road there was a large group of locals that would stop each car and surround it, splashing water and smearing wet baby powder and mentholated cream on everyone’s cheeks (facial cheeks guys, lets keep this clean). It was so fascinating to be a part of the celebration.

While this was going on, I kept thinking that I wanted to replace every holiday back home with a community water fight. Of course at home someone would most likely file a lawsuit against someone else for something or other, and the festivities would quickly be done away with. It is so saddening to think that California (maybe all of the US, I’m not sure) has become so litigious, that real joyful fun like Songkran on a community level is very rare if not extinct. Okay, off my soap box now…

We drove this way for about another 2 hours, switching off driving duties, throwing water, shooting others with water guns, filling up our buckets along the way, and just plain old having a ton of fun.  Zoë eventually got out and braved the constant barrage of water and even threw some buckets of water at people along the way. I was proud of her, it’s not many almost-3-year-olds that could handle a situation like that.  (Times like that make me realize again why we are on this journey, not only for our own education and enjoyment, but also for Zoë’s.)

Eventually we the little ones got tired, so we headed back to our friends place to have some lunch. Then Chad, Zoë, and I went home and rested for most of the day. I was exhausted and a tad sunburnt and I got a couple of bruises from sitting on the hard truck bed, but besides that I was unscathed besides being SOAKED!  I felt very thankful to be able to join in the fun and festivities, and it has cemented my love for this amazing country even more.

Have you ever been to a Songkran celebration in Thailand? What did you love/hate about it? Does the place where you live have a holiday or celebration that you think is enjoyable? Tell me about it!

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