Monday, April 25, 2011

Day 16 - Waterlogged

Songkran has well and truly started early. I was rather close to drowning today, and I didn't, by any definition, go swimming.  Thinking this might be the case, we got prepared this morning with super soakers, headbands and war paint. Yep, once again the make-up proved useful; who told me not to pack it?!   Tom, Anders and I made a fantastic team and were definitely a sight to be seen.  Walking through the streets with big super soakers and war paints was always interpreted in one of two ways, either; 'whoa, we do not want to mess with them!', or 'hell yeah they are up for a water fight!'. In one word: Fun. In many words; all the fun you always wanted to have when you were a kid, but never got to take it to its full potential.  Being one for guerrilla tactics, I too often smiled at people as they passed (especially if they were dry), then squirted them full on from behind.  Our killer instincts came out, and no-one was spared.  We were determined to get everyone wet!

Around 2pm we ran into Lynn and Joe, so we decided to hunt down some grub.  It actually wasn't such an easy feat given most of the street stalls and some of the restaurants had all closed for Songkran.  Dripping wet we stumbled into a noodle soup place and were absolutely delighted they were open.  Once we had filled out tummies, and left what would have usually been embarrassingly large puddles under each of our chairs, it was time to reload our guns and rejoin the battlefield.

After arriving back at the main square, Tom and Anders rallied a team on one side of the road and their 'us vs them' mentality shone perhaps a little too brightly when they subsequently declared war on the group that had established itself in front of the THC Rooftop Bar on the opposite side of the road.  Around the time that Anders and Tom picked up a barrel full of water and hurled it at the THC team, the water was starting to get to me.  I was so waterlogged that my fingers and toes were wrinkly like I'd fallen asleep in the bath.  If I had have consumed even half the amount of water that was thrown at me I'm sure I would have suffered from water on the brain.

Songkran was nothing like I expected it to be.  I didn't really know much about it, but then Tom told me he'd discovered that the Thai tradition is for the young to bathe the old as a New Year celebration, according to Wikipedia, Songkran started as a way to pay respect to people, and to give good fortune to elders and family by gently pouring water on their shoulders.  Somehow it has morphed into a water fight that spans the entire week of the Thai New Year.  At such festivals I aways enjoy seeing large brands spending valuable marketing and advertising dollars on stages, promo trucks and monster sound speakers. AirAsia went all out, and for the entire week they provided the main stage and music.  They also had promo dancers dressed in almost space like costumes, who were a very easy, but also very entertaining, target.  Coke and Pepsi were also amongst the brands that joined in on the fun, as well as a handful of Thai brands I'd never heard or seen before.  The westernisation and corporate involvement in the Songkran festival also made me wonder what the locals think of their traditions being bastardised into an alcohol fuelled, week long, water fight. On one hand, the young Thais, especially the children, took absolute delight in slapping us in the face with water, gunning us down and pouring buckets on our heads.  But on the other hand, I'm sure that wasn't the initial interpretation of the Thai tradition. But we definitely had a blast, bring on more water and war tactics tomorrow!

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