Thursday, March 29, 2012

Water world

Photo credit: Takeaway

One of the most important Thai festivals of the year is coming up, and I have to buy a squirt gun.

The Songkran holiday is in April, the month when, by all accounts, the sun will bake Bangkok to a crisp, without even the monsoon rains to cool things off. "Hot now?" Thais ask me with a smile. "Next month is the worst." This is in a city where I see women in cardigans when the temperature is in the low 80s. When a Thai fears heat, that means farangs like me had better stay within steps of air-conditioning at all times.

But Songkran, the Thai New Year, is when Thais laugh in the face of it all. After some serious Buddhist ritual that includes giving alms to monks and bathing statues of the Buddha, they let loose with the world's largest water fight. And no one is safe -- especially foreigners.

For three days, people fill buckets of water to toss on others. They spray each other with hoses. They attack with water guns from the backs of pickup trucks. Even elephants are called to take part, spraying passers-by with their trunks (although not without a tuberculosis risk, as an elephant vet told the Bangkok Post this week).

This happens in a country that revolves around rain: Too little, and crops will dry up. Too much, and rising rivers put houses and factories under water (see Leon's video of last year's flooding below).

But the Songkran holiday seems to say: To heck with it. Let's just have a good time.

At Joe's school, the ritual next Friday will include almsgiving and pouring water over the hands of respected elders. Then, the kids get to throw water at each other.

We don't want to be unprepared here at Baan Morakot. So in the next few days, I'm going to walk over the klong up to Thanon Nakhon Chai Si and pick up a squirt gun. Hope they're not all sold out.


  1. That sounds like a great kid holiday for sure! So glad you are having fun. stacey

  2. It's a dry heat though, right? - Lukas

  3. Put away your white shorts and enjoy, girl!