Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Water Festival, I'm over it

On the 4th day of Water Festival I joined my friends and some other their friends and some randoms and crammed into the back of a pickup truck then drove around the greater Mae Sot area from 10am to 6pm, finally finishing the tour in downtown Mae Sot (think, Mogadishu but with water) where the party was still raging and the streets still a river. I was totally wiped out from a continual state of drenchedness, not so bad by itself, by at 50mph even Thailand in direct sun becomes intolerably cold.

The first stop of the caravan was of particular interest. We traveled 30km to a rose plantation to pick up some friends and picnic. The fields were exceptionally beautiful even though the roses had not all bloomed. A network of dirt roads navigated through the vast area to small pockets of thatched and corrugated steel shanties. 500 Burmese migrant workers were distributed through the plantation living permanently. They rose at 6:30 to begin picking as to squeeze in a half day of work before festivities, grossing $1 instead of their typical $2 for a day's work. One Karen worker had a university degree from Rangoon and spoke good English, so we talked about life in the fields. He was proud of a small side garden that the landlord allowed where he grew some vegetables to eat and sell at market to bolster his income. The biggest problem facing the 500 workers, he told me, was total lack of education for their children. An NGO is attempting to start a school, but first must make terms with the landlords.

Here is a quick run-down of my Water Festival Experience:
  • Day 1: Exciting, new, fun!
  • Day 2: Still digging it, more people throwing water than Day 1.
  • Day 3: Little tired of getting wet, the Thai boxing was great though.
  • Day 4: Totally over spending all day wet, ended the day worn out and with a headache.
  • Day 5: Unwilling to have water thrown at me, placed myself under house arrest until sunset. Some foreigners plan vacations away from Thailand at this time of year, I don't blame them.
During Water Festival in Thailand alone:

324 dead
4884 injured
3955 traffic accidents

of course these are only the documented incidents, 2008