Songkran in Chiang Mai

Songkran, Thai new year, was this week. Aside from the typical new year’s events you’ll find anywhere in the world Thai new year has one distinctive element. Water fights. I believe this started out as a fairly sedate ritual where water would be poured over your hands symbolizing the washing away of any negativity that may have built up in the past year. These days its a nation wide water fight punctuated with food and music.

the calm before the storm

the calm before the storm

pre-waterfight energy boost

pre-waterfight energy boost

For the three days of Songkran you’ll find kids stationed by the road with water pistols and buckets patiently waiting to douse passing motorists. If you’re on a bike you’re going to get wet. If you’re in a car keep all the windows up unless you’re happy to have a bucket of water poured into your lap.

Within inner city Chiang Mai the activity is mostly centered around the moat which surrounds the old city. Traffic more or less comes to a standstill as tens of thousands of people soak one another with water drawn from the moat and sometimes chilled with ice. Outside of the center its more sedate with more people observing the religious significance of the event.

It’s a lot of fun although make sure you stock up on food and water before it starts. After your second or third cold wet trip outside you start getting reluctant to leave the house.

Oh, and if you ride a bike just slow down or even stop when you see people waiting ahead to wet you. You see some farangs speeding up and weaving erratically to try and avoid getting wet. Its not worth risking your life to avoid a few kids with water pistols. Plus a bucket of water in the face at 40 km/hr is surprisingly painful. Stop, let them bless you, say thankyou, smile then be on your way.

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About Andrew

Andrew is a computer programmer and one time TEFL teacher. He is part of the Moodle development team producing course management software for schools and universities all over the world. He checks Tanya’s spelling and produces youtube videos of variable quality.