#17 Get soaked at the Songkran Festival in Thailand

The Songkran Festival announced itself to us with an 8am commotion. Car horns beeping, music blaring and people screaming is exactly the wake up call you want the morning after a wedding. But, as the saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them. So we got changed into our oldest clothes and headed out, prepared to be soaked.

In terms of Songkrans I think we must have set some kind of record because we managed to leave our bungalow, catch a cab to the next village, walk to a restaurant and eat lunch, all without having a single drop of water thrown at us. Our lunch spot was the perfect place to people watch as the locals welcomed in their New Year by throwing water at one another.

Crowds lined the pavements, throwing buckets of water on passersby from huge butts which were repeatedly filled by massive tankers – I guess water shortages go out of the window for the day – and pickup trucks rammed with people drove by soaking those on the streets.

As with many traditions in Asia, I’m not quite sure how much health and safety played a part in the proceedings as no one was safe from a soaking – drivers on mopeds, people heading to work in shirt and tie and even old grannies were showered with water as the Thais washed away the old year and welcomed in the new one.

Drive-by showers.
If you’re going to go out during Songkran, prepare to be soaked.
All ages get involved in the celebrations.

After lunch we set off down the road, feeling slightly conspicuous as we were the only people in dry clothes. It didn’t last long though as one guy spotted us and ran over the road, dodging two lanes of traffic, in order to be the person to chuck the first bucket of water over us.

It was quickly followed by a soaking from a hose pipe and by then we were fully inducted into the Songkran Festival.

First soaking completed.

The thing I loved most about the day was how good natured it all was. Every time someone threw water at us it was followed by a smile and a shake of the hand or a pat on the back and “Happy New Year”, “Happy New Year”.

I also loved that despite the fact that we were essentially doing the same thing over and over again, it never got old. The Thai people, knowing that this is just a once a year celebration, kept up a level of enthusiasm which was exhausting just to watch. Their laughing, singing, dancing and screaming never stopped.

We felt very lucky to share their special day.

#17 done, with a little help from my new friends.