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New Year in Bangkok and wet traditions

New Year in Bangkok and wet traditions

Happy new year everyone! It is now the year 2555 and time to celebrate Songkran in Thailand.

Having just arrived from the Hanami cherry blossom viewing in Japan, receiving easter wishes from our family in Europe, we were soon about to unexpectedly engage in Thai new years traditions. Call it the fascinating life of perpetual traveling!

Songkran means getting wet and white, as new years wishes are expressed while pouring water and spreading chalk powder over the body, preferably someone elses body, of course. Not just a symbolic sprinkle like the easter blessings from catholic priests with holy water over baskets with food at Polish churches. This event is different and yet somehow familiar.

Trying to make it to the BTS sky train in Bangkok today, we received the unmerciful soak, reminding us very much of the so called lany poniedzialek (wet Monday) from Poland, where we throw water at each other as well. In our home country, people lock their car doors while waiting at red lights to avoid getting wet. At least that’s how bad it used to be. My parents had to take out the seats of their tiny fiat to dry after some blokes opened the car door and threw in two buckets of water. That was in the late seventies. In the nineties my poor cousin was dipped in an old bathtub filled with water at the basement of their communist block.

In Thailand that tradition has evolved further. It has been brought to soaking perfection. Nowadays, common use are buckets and barrels of water, water pistols the size of machine guns and garden hoses, pick up trucks of water splashing, very well equipped youngsters that won’t spare anyone passing nor driving by. Thai people dancing on the street, standing in groups at their water supply stand, waiting to spread the Songkran blessing. After dusk hip water blast (foam) parties and elevated DJs engage the frantic crowd. 

Songkran starts at the 13th and ends on the 15th of April. You have full three days to develop your skills to become an experienced  Songkran water warrior. After our first Songkran day, being a prime target as tourists and getting completely doused, we knew that we wouldn’t want to go out unprepared again the coming days. At least, with April being the hottest month of the year in Thailand it also means that you dry pretty fast and it is more amusing to get involved into water throwing than in freezing Poland :)

That’s not all the fun, though. The tradition also involves talcum powder which is spread over your face or head or arms or just everywhere. If you meet nice moderate Thais you will get only a soft streak of chalk on the cheeks and a blessing. If you move into officially declared Songkran war zones, like Khao San or Silom road, you are most definitely going to look like fresh out of the shower and dragged through white mud.


You cross the road first! Taken from a safe distance to the man with a hose and a group with water buckets waiting for passers by. The road is not wet from pouring rain.

Songkran water fights on the road.


Security man joins the fun.


Wet surprise waiting around the corner.


Songkran gang on pick up.


Feel the tank power. Luckily we are shooting from a taxi.


Armed Songkran forces.


Returning to the hotel soaked through.


Little was left of the chalk powder treatment after making it back.


Songkran celebrations after dusk. In front of Siam Central World mall.


The party must go on. Next to Siam Paragon mall.


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