kogatravel

Katja and Arne's travel stories

13.04.15 Songkran – Thai new year and water festival

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We put the alarm at 6:30 today as we’re not really sure what’s happening today. Happy New Year, my friends! 

Songkran is Thai new year and a water festival combined into one.
Wikipedia states the following regarding Songkran:
The Songkran festival (Thaiสงกรานต์pronounced [sǒŋ.krāːn],  from the Sanskrit word saṃkrānti, or literally “astrological passage”) is celebrated in Thailand as the traditional New Year’s Day from 13 to 15 April. It coincides with the New Year of many calendars of South and Southeast Asia. The festive occasion is in keeping with the Buddhist/Hindu solar calendar.
We walked down Fit street, as we call it, and looked at all the shops and businesses preparing for donations to the monks. It looks like it’s a treat day for the monks as it’s chocolate milk, chips, nuts, chocolate bars and juice boxes in addition to the more traditional water and rice.
And everybody is wearing these hideous shirts of bright colors with flowers. I mean, really really hideous. Not that I’m a fashion expert of any kind, but I could easily see the eighties calling wanting it’s shirts back. Katja wants me to point out that this is my personal meaning, and that she classifies these shirts as “colorful and vibrant”.
Mental note to self: When in Thailand for Songkran next time wear a colorful flowery shirt, dress or shorts. 
As this is written we’re sitting at the hotel restaurant facing the street and waiting for the monks. It’s 7:50 and they should be just around the corner. We hear what we assume are prayers from down the street, but the monks take their time. I guess it takes it’s toll to carry all that snacks around. I don’t know how big bowls they walk around with, but Katja estimates there must be a procession of a thousand monks today, or there must be a lorry driving around to pick up the offerings that they’re not able to take away on their lead trough.
It’s now 8:20 and the monks have passed us. We have now understood the logistics and yes, there is a lorry involved. After each “station” where there are handed out offerings the monks empty their offerings into a big plastic bag that’s picked up and put on the back of a big lorry. I think there must be tons of offerings in that truck.
We have always greeted the older guy who seems to run the hotel we live at. He’s an older gentleman and is always smiling and talking to us when we meet. Our hotel has lined up a couple of tables and made ready to give offering to the monks. We are invited over to the table by the manager to participate in the offerings. It’s nice to be a part of it and not just look at it from a distance. We do take pictures of course, we’re tourists after all. And a few short videos as well.
When the monks have been given the offerings all the hotel staff kneel and the monks give a prayer to them. I hesitate to fumble with the camera and film then as I perceive it as a holy experience. It’s at the very end of the prayer I notice that the monk at the end is taking pictures of us with his mobile phone. Guess it’s not that strict a regulation on it after all.
We did breakfast, relaxed and watched more and more people walking in the streets with water guns. We went back to the room and got ready for action.
And action we got. We hadn’t stepped out of the hotel door before we were in a shootout with the hotel kids. From there it just got worse…
It’s hard to describe Songkran guess you had to be there. People are laughing, screaming, throwing water at each other and having a blast.
We walked around shooting water at people and getting soaked in return. Some had ice in their water and you felt those better than the rest. We had phones in water proof bags and the Gopro. The following pictures and videos are ment to describe Songkran.
We did two tours out in the mayhem. We got enough and went beck to relax by the pool and seek sanctuary there for a while. We dried our clothes in the sun, Then after a while we went at it again. This time there was a band playing, and the people that wanted to party had found bottles and bongs. The fire truck hosed people down, there were finger paint all over and a crazy atmosphere. We met a lot of people we know from Tiger, some more intoxicated than others.
If I don’t get sick from being sprayed with non-drinkable water I’m a lucky guy. You talk, you get your mouth sprayed. You look, you get your eyes sprayed. You stand with the side to anyone, you get your ear sprayed. You get the picture. How much water I ended up swallowing, I do not know, but it was more than I should. Fingers crossed for feeling good in the morning also.
When we went out for dinner it had calmed down. A few drunken souls in the street, but no more water throwing. We suspect the most party infective have left for the beaches or Phuket town.
Water is the driving force of all nature.

– Leonardo da Vinci

Author: arnber

Humongen! The big guy! The man, the myth, the legend! And then theres' me. The nice guy in the house. The man without cooking skills, but with five stars on the Playstation. Boss at work, relaxed at home. What you see is what you get. Life is good. I choose it to be.

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