Songkran, There’s no escape!
All expats who live here are all fully aware that Thailand has entered a New Year! Songkran is the highlight of the Thai calendar, for religious reasons; conversely it is also the time for the world’s greatest water fight!!! Songkran is like marmite, you either love it or you hate it, there’s no in between!!
I know the majority of expats who live in Pattaya severely dislike Songkran and to a certain extent I do also. This city drags out the celebration longer than anywhere else. I usually make sure I leave Patts and experience Songkran elsewhere and this year was no exception.
This was my 4th consecutive Songkran and it certainly did not disappoint. A group of friends and I made an epic northbound journey totaling 934km (all by bus) Pattaya, Bangkok, Sukhothai, Pai, Chiang Mai. Luckily we all opted to fly back home, with the flight duration of 1 hour 15 minutes, quite a difference!!!
Traditionally, the ‘flinging’ of the water is a more tame and spiritual process. Historically it was a holiday celebrated amongst spiritual communities, elders and family. Water is passed on for good fortune and wishes to others via a gentle pouring over the head, hands and feet.
One of the Songkran celebrations last year, I actually got down with the village people up North, somewhere near Kurat and opted for a spiritual ceremony. It was definitely a diverse way of Songkran, but I enjoyed it. Also it made me appreciate this Thai ceremony on a new level, its original purpose. Nowadays, super soakers and buckets replace the Wats and spiritual side of this holiday, and in most built up areas Songkran certainly caters towards the foreigners.
Unfortunately, in the midst of all the Songkran celebrations the number of road accident victims continues to rise on a yearly basis, according to the Bangkok Post, ‘A total of 320 people were killed in road accidents during the seven-day road safety campaign from April 11 to 17, 2012, 49 more than 2011’. I hope these ‘sobriety checkpoints’ that Thai authorities enforced over this Songkran period, has helped decrease the amount of accident victims.
On a lighter note, I truly believe that Songkran is one of the best times to be in Thailand, there really is nowhere else in the world that celebrates their new year in this kind of style. In fact Songkran might just be the best festival I have ever attended and that’s saying something!
I hope you all had a pleasant and accident free Songkran!!!
Sawadee pee mai, T :)