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Enjoy Songkran without getting soaked

Enjoy Songkran without getting soaked

Songkran is the Buddhist new year festival that is celebrated for three days in mid April in Thailand. It is the time of giving and forgiving. Thais visit their family and relatives, give flower and food offerings to Buddha and monks to receive their blessings in return, which you can observe at any Wat temple in Bangkok. They also ritually pour water over Buddha images, thereby symbolically coming clean with old vices and making new year’s resolutions. A chalk like paste is smeared to protect the skin against the harsh rays of the sun.

However this peaceful and gentle tradition has somehow transformed over the years – into an event of boisterous water and white powder throwing on every street of the city. Getting throughly doused on the first day, only a few steps away from our hotel, we decided to spent the remaining two days dry and watch from a distance. We managed!

Here goes the trick: We took a (metered!) taxi to the nearest BTS station, where water splashing is forbidden, got of at Siam station, from where you can walk directly into the Siam Paragon or Siam Central World malls. The BTS stations also make a great viewing platform. Arriving still dry we had an unobstructed view of Songkran ongoings from above, watching youngsters in pick up trucks engaging in water fights, children waiting around the corner giving pedestrians the wet blessing.

The taxi ride was adventurous, getting hit by muddy chalk paste and jets of water from all sides, I was so glad to be able to enjoy all that action from inside! We have seen buses, motorcyclists and tuktuk drivers being splashed with water while driving, which luckily never lead to dangerous maneuvers. The next day we were shocked to read in the papers that 210 people have died during Songkran, while most accidents involved motorbikes and were related to alcohol overdose, the lack of wearing helmets and limited control when being splashed on the road.

Alas, I highly recommend the Siam Central World mall as a lookout, water guns are not allowed inside (piles of abandoned plastic equipment at the entrance) and it has a massive glass front going up several floors.

If you are still planning to walk through town, this is wholeheartedly recommended:

  • have a plastic bag for your camera, phone and wallet (sold on the streets by business smart Thais)
  • buy a cheap plastic raincoat you can get at family mart or seven eleven
  • put on clothes you don’t care much about
  • wear good waterproof shoes (slippers are a good choice)
  • have a water gun ready and maybe even snorkeling glasses in case of severe sensitive eyes
  • other than that it’s just: run and have fun – Happy Songkran to you all!

 

Convenient ritual corner at the hotel and mall: Water and cup to pour water over Buddha statue, talcum powder.

   

 

Blue water containers, waiting Thais. Taxi window perspective.

 

Blessed taxis.                                                              Sharing a blessing with armed hotel staff.

    

 

No one gets spared. Man hoses bus (with open windows – that you can’t see on picture).

 

Safe lookout from the BTS station. Notice photographer’s neat camera wrapping ;)

 

No water fun inside mall.

 

Songkran miracle – two tourists didn’t get wet :)

 

Wishing you all: สวัสดีปีใหม่ ! Wai.

 

 

 

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