Saturday, April 12, 2008

Songkran Festival - Water Festival - Thai New Years

Nels getting splashed
Photo by Wihn

The biggest event of the year kicks off this Saturday and will continue until the Thai New Year, Wednesday April 16th, bringing in 2552 B.E. (2008 A.D. + 543 years = 2552 Buddhist Era). The Water Festival could also go by such other names as "Throw Ice Water at the Foreigner Week" or "Street Splash Party" or "National Wet T-Shirt Contest".

As I rolled down Mae Sot's main drag on the Minsk, I succeeded in outwitting and avoiding the first several attackers on the sides of the road as well as the mobile attack groups in the backs of pickup trucks. The most popular delivery vehicle is a bowl of water, though squirt guns and hoses are also widely used. Vicious volleys between roadside and pickup truck crews are spectacular to behold; gallons of water arcing through the air in the harsh midday sun and dozens of young and old together getting in on the act. My slippery and sneaky behavior kept me partial dry for a hundred yards, but then the traffic bottlenecked and all motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians alike are forced though a watery gauntlet. On such a hot day, the water is actually quite refreshing, too refreshing, it seems, for those with devious intentions, who up the ante by using ice water.

Upcoming events may include a Thai boxing match, parades, a trip to a hot spring, and public drunkenness, but it is hard to say because nobody is distributing a calendar.