SONGKRAN (NEW YEAR), THAILAND


Friday April 13

The Thai's are always having holidays. But Songkram, the Thai New Year, better known as Water Festival is the biggest holiday of the year, far surpassing Christmas or the 1st of July in Canada.  Everything is closed for an entire week. That's not so good for us trying to finish all the work that needs to be done on the boat. There are no tradesmen in sight. Parts we have ordered from North America sit on hold in whatever warehouse they ended up in.

Becky, Bob, Tony and ourselves met for lunch but everywhere we went around the Boat Lagoon was closed for the holiday. So we decided to drive to Ao Chalong to see if there were any restaurants open there.

Mayhem in the Streets

Almost the instant we hit the highway we were in for a once in a lifetime experience. The biggest water fight in the world! The tradition is to sprinkle your neighbors with water to cleanse away the past year, then apply white powder for good luck. Well the Thais have taken the ritual to the extreme.

The participation factor was amazing. The streets were in major gridlock as every UV,  pickups and motor bike in Thailand was patrolling the streets, trucks armed with a barrel or two of water and at least 10 people jammed in the back bearing dousing artillery.

Lining the roads were fun loving waterlogged groups of people with a water source; a hose, or tubs, or a filled pickup truck, one group was even getting their water from a pool! They waited to ambush any passers-by, and nobody escaped a soaking!
Even the cops and security guards in uniform were drenched. They all had their radios wrapped in plastic bags!

If you leave the House,
you will get Wet!

Despite some wearing raincoats and even an umbrella perched in the back of the truck (right), everyone was wet. The streets looked like it had been raining for days, water even running down the gutters everywhere, not only in the major centers, but highways and sideroads too!



A huge inventory of hoses, water pistols, water guns, and super soakers, complete with backpacks.

Some of the water contained ice, some red or blue dye.

The kids were especially enjoying themselves and the armies were a family affair.

Vendors doing a roaring business selling water guns.

And there was no danger of running out of water. Firetrucks and water tankers were making the rounds refueling the militia.

Some of the water attackers even dressed up for the occasion. Others stopped traffic by dancing in the middle of the road.

Then of course, came the white powder. Great smoky clouds descended on the crowds and most people looked like they were well floured and ready for he oven!

The girls in this open jeep traveling in front of us got more than their fare share. Here  talcum is thrown on them for good luck!

We were protected from assault in our closed vehicle although we constantly had our windows hosed and powdered.

No Escape

When we arrived in Ao Chalong we had to get out of the car to get to a restaurant. It took about 2 seconds before we were initiated.

Gord had ice water poured down his back to Tony's amusement

He who laughs last

Oh oH!

Then the Powder!

We were all smeared but the white stuff had a nice eucalyptus smell

We made a friend at the restaurant who was well into the New Year's celebrations.

After lunch we took a tour to Patong to watch more festivities. The traffic into Kata Beach and Patong was not to be believed! The 2 lane highway turned into a 5 lane highway, all the traffic trying to go the same direction. Anyone coming the other way was out of luck! It took us hours crawling at a snail's pace to reach Patong, certainly the main battlefield in Phuket. It is easy to understand why there are more traffic accidents and fatalities during this week than any other in Thailand!

The streets were packed and it was sheer pandemonium! Farangs and Thais alike, the wetter people were, the more fun they seemed to be having.

The buses transporting groups of people home form work were especially popular targets!




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