No doubt many of you back in the “real world” are looking forward to Easter next weekend, whether it is for the Easter eggs and Hot Cross Buns or for a long long weekend, or even a couple of weeks of school holidays perhaps.
Here in Thailand Easter is not celebrated as it is a Buddhist country, it has not even been commercialized unlike St.Valentine’s Day or even Christmas and the western New Year which are money spinners for the shopping malls here !
What we do have here though is Songkran, the old traditional New Year and the biggest, baddest, wettest festival in South East Asia.
Officially the Songkran holiday is 13-15 April, but with Saturday preceding and an extra public holiday on the Wednesday many businesses have closed for the whole week so there is a mass exodus out of Bangkok starting today, Friday. Already the roads out of town are filling up, buses, trains and planes are fully booked as many people go home upcountry, leaving a very quiet Bangkok behind.
Traditionally this was a time of making merit by pouring water over Buddha images and (gently) over your parents to wash away all the evils of the past year, offering alms to monks, building stupas from sand, and a thorough house cleaning. Nowadays after performing the traditional stuff in the morning, Songkran turns into the world’s biggest water fight at midday. In the afternoon it is on for young and old, if you are out and about you are almost certain to get wet, and if you venture into the free fire zones of Khao San Road, Silom road or Sukhumvit soi 4 here in Bangkok you will get drenched.
I have previously been here for Songkran as a tourist, this is my first as a resident expat. Some (many?) expats whinge and moan about Songkran, they stock up with food and hide at home but I say “when in
Rome Bangkok do as the locals do”. Hey, it’s the hottest part of the year, so what if you get wet ? It’s not as if you are likely to catch pneumonia, is it ? Although if I was in Chiang Mai I would n’t want to swallow any water out of the moat up there during their water fights.
I’ve got my cheap and tacky Hawaiian shirt, board shorts, waterproof pouch for phone and money, waterproof camera …all I need is a water
pistol cannon, plenty for sale down near the battlefields !
Suk san wan songkran …. Happy Songkran สุขสันต์วันสงกรานต์
(yes, I C&P-ed that, I have n’t learnt to write Thai yet !)
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