Welcome to the year 2553


April 13th marks the beginning of the new year in Thailand and to celebrate they take to the streets with guns……..WATER GUNS!  Three days of non stop soggy urban warfare welcomes in the new year!

Buddha died 543 years before Jesus,  so Buddhist countries start counting years from there making this the year 2553.  The celebration of the new year is called Songkran and it takes place from April 13th through the 15th every year.  There is a serious and spiritual side to the holiday, where people visit temples and wash the Buddha, but the most visible part of the celebration is a massive city wide water fight!  What better way to celebrate during the hottest month of the year when temperatures are hovering around 100 degrees (39 Celsius) every day?  Here is how it works:

In the week or so leading up to Songkran, street markets and stores begin selling all sorts of flowery Songkran shirts.  These shirts look like what we would call “Hawaiian shirts” and basically label anyone wearing one as a target.  We eagerly bought shirts and several air powered water cannons to participate in the festivities.  We jumped into a Tuk Tuk (little open air motorcycle taxi) and headed for Khao San road.  Within minutes we were soaked from head to toe.  Every street corner we passed had people throwing buckets of water at us to wish us a good new year.  Pick up trucks with 5 to 15 people in the back and garbage cans filled with water were driving around throwing water at anyone with a squirt gun or Songkran shirt.

Khao San road itself was filled to capacity with smiling faces and dripping bodies!  A few tourists, who did not read up before arriving, tried in vain to reach their hotels without being doused with icy water.  A few were angry, but most just smiled and went with the moment.  I am amazed at how much fun it was to shoot water at people who could not be more wet if they were in a swimming pool, but somehow this kept us entertained for hours!  We took a bus ride home and continued to do battle from the windows of the bus.  Water was flying in and out of the bus windows as the driver laughed and encouraged the antics!  What a great few days!

Raise your hand if you think this is an activity you would like to have in your country!  I for one would vote to hold city wide water fights in the US every year in July or August.  Maybe we could tie it in with our 4th of July?

If you want more information on the religious or historical aspects of Songkran or want to see some videos here are a few links.  Enjoy!

Wikipedia Information

This video has some good images of what I described above. It is from Chiang Mai in the north where the moat that runs around the city fuels the water supply and fun but it shows the tuk tuks and the pick ups and other crazy scenes!

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