Last April 13th, I celebrated the Thai New Year at my friends’ (Keefe and Hiroko) Bangkok apartment. The year here now is 2547, that is 2,547 years since the enlightenment of the Lord Buddha when He reached the state of nirvana.
Songkran is the term for the Thai New Year even in which the sun moves from one zodiac sign into the other. When the sun leaves Pisces to be in Aries the occasion is described as Maha Songkran, or the Grand Songkran. Traditionally, the Thais use this heavenly phenomena to mark the beginning of the New Year. Anyway, what this means now is a big fuss and a one-week holiday for the Thais. For most of them, they use this opportunity to travel to be with their families in the provinces, as many people work in Bangkok but come from the other provinces in Thailand.
While my travel buddy, Bernadette, a friend of mine who is a VSO Volunteer, decided to go up north, to Chiang Mai, I stayed in Bangkok where the New Year is celebrated with a three-day water-fight. As early as 6am to midnight or later, everyone throws water on everyone. I did my best to avoid the dirty canal water as I didn’t fancy dead rats (or the ‘essence’ of dead rats!) thrown on me — a big eeeeeeeeew! It was lots of fun and with it being a big tourist attraction, turns out to be a water-throwing competition between tourists and Thais. People spend all day for three days driving around with a pick-up truck/tuktuk- loads of people with big rubbish bins full of iced water. Thankfully it was very, very hot that day (it averages 40C for three days straight0 that being drenched with water is a big relief.
Everyone is a target during Songkran — you cannot simply stay dry if you are not QUICK enough to escape. You soon learn that if you can’t beat them, might as well join them. But it’s so much fun so why wouldn’t you want to?
All in all, it was a lovely week of water, sun and Songkran… I am now back in Cambodia, shuffling papers in the office.