I arrived in Thailand on April 12th, 2016, just in time for the Songkran celebrations, which commenced on the thirteenth of the month.
What an experience it was too!
Arriving from Scotland, I was thrown in at the deep end as Thailand celebrated its New Year. And I have to confess, the Thai people know how to enjoy themselves and have fun.
It was partly because of these festivities and one or two other lifestyle changes, that influenced my decision, not to take my return flight back to my homeland. It was time for me to try something new and I believed that I had discovered just the place to begin a new and exciting life.
When I arrived I was in the company of a fellow Scot and his Thai lady, Kenny and May. Five weeks later, I was on my lonesome. But I managed fine, met knew friends, and of course met a fantastic woman. We hit if off immediately.
Now one year on, It is Songkran again and I was desperate for the celebrations to get underway so that I could venture out with my camera. The first day was a huge disappointment however. There was a lack of bars participating in the event compared to last year, so the hunt for a suitable vantage point to shelter from the water games was not forthcoming.
I sat in a bar overlooking the road but alas, I failed to achieve a clear view of the activities.
Today though, I went alone, found a line of bars on the beach that were all actively immersing people with water as they passed by. I chose somewhere as close as I dared to be, for the safety of my photography equipment. It is allegedly waterproof but I don’t like to chance my luck.
I had my first beer in over a month in bar number one, took some photos and repeated my activity in two other bars close by. Thai people love to have their photo taken and will often approach me to enquire where they may see the photos later. My Facebook friends list grows constantly because of this.
Once I had enough images, I walked through the small alleys, taking the hits from the mixture of welcoming warm water and the incredibly freezing cold wetness from the bars that added copious amounts of ice to their supplies.
The look on people’s faces when they are suddenly saturated in ice cold water is truly worth seeing. It is however, a different experience when it happens to you. Remember it is 32 degrees in Pattaya when someone pours icy fluid down the back of your sweaty shirt. It certainly comes as a surprise!
Songkran is the celebration of Thialand’s New Year and is a “must see” tourist attraction. It offers not only the water sports as I call it but there are parades with people being transported around on the back of lorries dressed as anything from sailors to Thai traditional dress.
Music blares from every bar participating and massive containers are alongside the venues to hold the water, which is dispensed over walkers either by small buckets or water guns.
It is believed that the water washes away bad luck amongst other things. So when a Thai person pours water over your head, they are basically wishing you a Happy New Year and a prosperous future.
When a tourist does it, well its because they are being childish and joining in the fun. And it is highly entertaining for those who like to participate.
Many expats, flee the country at Songkran because they hate the time of year. I prefer to endorse it and engage in it as much as possible. I will offer myself for target practice to any child with a water gun or bucket, then enjoy their huge grins as they see me grimace when I discover the water is Baltic.
This, for me is Thailand. Songkran, the rural provinces with the rice fields, water buffalo and ladies adorned in traditional Thai dress, is what the country is all about.
So if you ever come to the “land of smiles” do it during Songkran. You may never go home again!