Justin and I inadvertently joined the world’s biggest water fight last year.
After my extended visit to Taiwan, I flew to Phuket, Thailand to meet up with Justin and to visit a friend. My arrival just so happened to coincide with Songkran, the festival that kicks off the Thai New Year. Little did I know what was in store for us that day, but I don’t think I could have chosen a more entertaining welcome to Thailand.
The Songkran festival of Thailand has its roots in Indian culture, which greatly influenced this region of Southeast Asia. The New Year was formerly aligned with the celestial calendar, but now the date is set to April 13. The most notable form of celebrating Songkran is water throwing; a sprinkling of water symbolizes cleansing and starting anew. Practically speaking, Songkran has become one giant water fight.
All across Thailand, locals and travelers are getting soaked this week, because people don’t just carry water guns around town. Oh no… they bring out large bowls, buckets and hoses for these streetside skirmishes. And from what I saw on Phuket Island’s southern end, friends and family gather around massive water tanks and overflowing barrels that are stationed along the street to make for easy, accessible, and never-ending ammo. Also, water barrels and piles of people are carted around in truck beds for mobilized Songkran parties.
It’s nearly impossible to be in Thailand during Songkran and NOT get wet. At least a good dousing of water provides relief from the intense heat. After all, April is the hottest month of the year. But for all the fun and festivities, accidents – mostly traffic related – are tragically common, as people get carried away with throwing water here, there, and everywhere. Thus, it’s critical for travelers to be mindful of their surroundings during this epic water war.
For our part, Justin and I loved our sopping-wet introduction to Thailand and its people. We had a blast walking and scooting down the road. As you can see in this video, if you are moving slow enough, someone may lovingly slap chalk all over your face. Mmmm… delightful.
After passing through the water-logged gauntlet, Justin and I were happy to find a plate of Pad Thai at our favorite Phuket beach, Nain Harn Beach, waiting for us at the end of the Songkran road.
สวัสดี Sawatdee ka! What do you think about Songkran? Can you imagine running errands on Songkran day? Have you ever accidentally stumbled upon a special holiday while traveling? What crazy festivals do you celebrate in your part of the world? I’d love to know, so share YOUR story in the comment section below!