Songkran – Happy New Year

The period of 13 – 15 April is the Thai Budhist New Year in 2005; so Happy New Year everyone. It is wonderful to get 3 days off in mid week, as these are public holidays here in Thailand. The Songkran festival is also a water festival, and the people here go crazy with water, and a chalk like powder. Everyone gets doused with water, generally from small bowls (though lots of people carry huge water pistols) and they have powder in paste form in their hands that they wipe on your cheeks. The water is usually poured over the shoulder, but as you can imagine, as the day goes on the spirits get higher and hose pipes and buckets come into play, and people (and vehicles) get smeared all over with the powder/paste. Yesterday, the main day of the celebrations, we went to the busiest festival area of Bangkok (Khao San Road), and it was heaving – wall to wall Thai’s (only the odd Farang as most people leave Bangkok to take advantage of the time off). They were really quite gentle with us though, and lots of people wanted to wet and powder the farangs, with a big smile, and a Happy New Year from all the poeple that “touched” us on the cheeks with the powder. Occasionally we got drowned from the bowls of water though, and often they use iced water and that’s a bit of a shocker. Still, at 90 degrees out there it’s not a big deal. We were warned beforehand not to carry too much stuff, and to put cell phones in plactic bags – well, I put the new digital camera in a bag, but in the early part of the visit took it out a few times to take pictures, until it got so crowded, and the air was too thick with water, to risk keeping it out. I didn’t do a good job of wrapping it up though, as once my pocket got filled with water (inevitable I suppose – even if unintentional) the bag ended up with water in it too; so my camera is dead now. Hopefully it will dry out and come back to life!
Another appealing thing about this festival is that the City is almost empty (except Khao San) so the noise is all gone, and there are no traffic jams around here. Trish and I have had the pool to ourselves the last 2 mornings. Then today we went up to our local supermarket to go shopping. One big mistake – we took our apartment’s Tuk Tuk (the open sided 3 wheeled scooter that carries 4 passengers in the back). Well guess what – it’s still the water festival. As we slowed down at a set of lights that had just changed a small group of Thais dumped several bowls of water into the back of the Tuk Tuk. I hadn’t expected that today (yesterday we were dressed for this) and we got SOAKED. At least it was warm water, and with the sun out full and 93 degrees today it actually helped keep us cool. Thankfully we weren’t carrying anything of significance.
Tomorrow we have a family from my work coming over for the afternoon and dinner. We haven’t done any entertaining for quite a while now, so that will be nice. Then after a hectic 3 days of not much we have a whole weekend off to ourselves.
Once again – a lousy job – but someone has to do it eh?






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