Songkran Festival (Part 2)

As I mentioned in my previous post “the word Songkran means to pass or to move into. In this context, the meaning implies to the passing and the moving of the sun, the moon and the other planets into one of the zodiacal orbits. And the Grand Songkran Festival indicates the new era of the Thai New Year.”

The usual greeting is “Sa Wa Dee Pi Mai”. Sa Wa Di is used to say ‘hello’ or ‘good-bye’……Pi means Year……and Mai means New. You can also say: “Chok Di” which means good luck.

Dave had said to me long time ago: “Songkran festival is a blast”…. When I listened to this, I thought…. OK. Well, after spending Songkran in Thailand, better yet, in Northern Thailand, I have to agree: “Songkran IS a blast!!….. a WATER blast!…..Nothing like it anywhere in the world, now I am sure!

The tradition of pouring a little water on the shoulder to wish good luck has evolved into a big fun family good natured water fight. For 3 consecutive days, everyone in Thailand plays with water. It is an original and practical way to stay cool in these super hot days. Everyone knows that it will be almost impossible not to get wet during those days.

Dave had suggested I spent a night or two in Chiang Mai but running rather low in cash I decided to just go and spend the day. I was a bit scared to go all by myself because I had heard there were lots of people on the street and loads of water fights going on all day. Natch called me a day or two before to warn me about NOT taking my bike into the city because there would be people splashing water and I wasn’t strong enough to balance on the bike. So, I decided to get a songthaew from Doi Saket to Chiang Mai and then a taxi to Nid’s shop where we were going to be celebrating Songkran. I almost did not go, neuropathy and multitudes do not go well, I have to keep looking at the floor to see where I am walking, uneven surfaces can make me lose balance and if there were so many people on the streets it scared me; what if they threw water a bit to hard and I fell, getting up from the floor is tough with the pain in my knees on hard surfaces…ah!!!… so many things that normally sounded fun, now kind of scared me. But I decided this was going to be one of a kind experience and I couldn’t not be part of it. So, I struggled but gather courage and got on the Songthaew.

I got to Wararot market safe and sound. I managed to get a Tuk-tuk and head over to Nid’s shop. I couldn’t remember quite well how to get there and we got a bit lost; called Dave and he came to show us the way. I did get splashed on the way but not too bad. It was early so things were a bit slow and that was a great thing for me.

When I got there, I could see many people with big water containers throwing water to passersby. I spent most of the day just watching everyone throw water. I participated and had lots of fun; since I couldn’t be on my feet too long I did this in sessions. I wanted to get a picture of me before things got a bit wild and I asked Dave and Stuart to stand by me with their water buckets….I was taken by surprise…Happy Songkran to Marcia!

It is such a big festival that everyone goes out for a ride. Many people get on the back of pick up trucks where they have water containers, ice-coolers, and are armed with water guns to splash everyone. As the day goes by, ice is placed in the water containers to make the water ‘ice-cold’…..a chill goes through your body. Everyone is laughing and having fun, wishing each other good luck. Spirits are high and everyone is in a good mood. Respect is foremost and if older people go by, they only get a sprinkle or no water at all, and if someones signs ‘no’ they usually don’t get splashed, depending….. and police officers do not get splashed either.

I got home much more tired and exhausted than I could have imagined. The third and last day, Yao went with me to Chiang Mai for a few hours. It was a bigger blast, because now I knew what it was about, my brain had adjusted to the situation and I was able to enjoy it more.

These are some of the funny things I saw throughout the festival:

* Kids playing in an inflatable pool right on the sidewalk.
* Special plastic pouches for mobile phones and personal belongings.
* A kid with a water container and a water gun, standing in an attached ‘basket-like’ to a motorbike.
* A kid covered with a plastic container on the back of the truck.
* Roofless ‘tuk-tuks’ to make the water experience more fun.
* Babies and adults covered with plastic bags.
* Water-back-pack guns with Disney characters.
* Scented Talc-powder put on cars, mini-vans, face and body for decoration.

I can go on telling you what fun that was….but I much rather share the photos!! Enjoy!!

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