Today, April 13 is the official start of Songkran, the traditional Thai New Year, but the water fights have started early. Yesterday morning all was peaceful when I walked down the street, but when I returned an hour later it was bedlam. War had broken out a day early !
Traditionally Songkran is a time for bathing the hands of your elders, going to the temple and making merit, but nowadays it is the world’s biggest water fight. Usually it is very hot at this time of the year so you don’t mind getting wet but yesterday was relatively cool, and some of the water is icy cold!
With people on both sides of the road armed with super-soaker waterguns, buckets and hoses, anyone caught in the cross fire is going to get wet, especially if you are in an open-sided tuk-tuk stuck in traffic !
Add loud traditional music blaring from the bars and plenty of alcohol flowing freely and you can imagine the party atmosphere. All the bars had signs posted, “no water inside”, but they just wasted paper ! They covered up the TVs and stereos but I was still half expecting somebody to get zapped ….water and electricity don’t mix! Hostilities cease at sunset, until the next day, so it is safe to go out at night. It is early morning now here in bangkok, and all seems calm ….but I’m sure that will change when the bars open ! I am probably going to the big street party/waterfight at Silom, so it is inevitable that I will get wet. The dress code ? Floral shirt, board shorts and sandals (and waterproof camera).
Unfortunately songkran not only brings fun, but also a horrendous death toll on the roads. Too many people trying to get home to the provinces driving too fast under the influence of alcohol causes hundreds of casualties every year. I will never drive anywhere at the beginning or end of Songkran, there are just too many idiots on the road driving to or from their home and Bangkok.