Readers' Submissions

Songkran 2009


“I was dreamin' when I wrote this
Forgive me if it goes astray
But when I woke up this mornin'
Could have sworn it was judgment day

The sky was all purple
There were people runnin' everywhere
Tryin' to run from the destruction
You know I didn't even care

They say two thousand zero, zero, party over,
Oops, out of time!
So tonight I'm gonna’ party like its 1999!”

Prince

It's 7:00 in the morning and I’m already sweating buckets. Temperatures are expected to be in the mid 30’s. (That’s mid to upper 90’s to my fellow Americans who find Celsius incomprehensible.) Thank goodness that Songkran is finally here. I for one am definitely ready for a bucket or two of water to be dumped over my head. You see, I’ve found out a wonderful secret which I will share with. If you are in a continual state of being soaking wet, you’re not hot any more! Profound eh? Seriously though, I actually enjoy going out to lem-nam “play with water” during Songkran. I admit that it’s not easy to feel neutral about Songkran. You either loave it or loathe it. I’ve often heard that many farangs who live in Bangkok prefer to simply to leave town during these few days. Apparently much of the soaking is done in a friendly manner. Not so in my adopted home of Lampang! A small ocean of water is tossed about, but always with a warm smile, even if that smile is a drunken one! Oh yes, water is not the only thing flowing during Songkran. It seems as though everyone is blitzed from morning to evening, and I do mean everyone. The streets are filled with 13 and 14 year old girls zonked on Spy! I suppose, given the fact “The Crack of Doom” has opened and seems ready to swallow Thailand, getting stinkin’ drunk doesn’t sound like a bad idea. Everyone does seem to be partying harder this year. Tomorrow may be civil war, but today it's time to “get down”!

On a more innocent note, Songkran came two days early to my school, and it was wonderful! Right now we are in the middle of Summer School, and what better way to have some fun than to have a good old-fashioned water fight! So, for the last two hours of the day, we did just that. Our school thoughtfully provided barrels of water all over campus to refill water guns. Oh did we get wet! Actually most of the Pratom and Mathayom teachers went and hid like sniveling cowards in their offices, but I “The Farang”, along with the Anuban teachers went out to get soaked. As far as I’m concerned, those who stayed dry missed out on a lot of fun. In the spirit of sanuk, the school actually brought in a fire engine to spray us all. Now that was something a little different!

That evening there was a special drum ceremony in the center of town. One hundred and eight enormous drums! Wow! You could feel those bass notes!

The next day my family and I went for a day trip to Doi Saket to visit a botanical garden/resort. That and how we got caught up in the red Tide are related in an earlier submission, Deja Deja-Vous.

Moving on to Songkran itself, I have established a little tradition that I enjoy. I put on a pair of shorts, a neon colored flowered shirt and my sandals and head off into town on my bicycle. On the way I inevitably stop for a small child to give me my first soaking of the day. Okay, I’m done, I’m wet, and I’m ready to party. Let the water fly! And fly it does, from every direction. While I don’t mind getting a full bucket flung at me, it is a bit disconcerting when you get hit in the head from behind, especially if I’m actually pedaling along…and especially of the bucket of water is of the ice cold variety. Dowsing someone with water from a barrel with a large block of ice floating in it fits the Thai sense of humor. Oh well, I may yelp, but I take it like a man. Fortunately most of the water I encounter is warm.

One nice thing about iced water, at least when it’s been flung upon a pretty girl, is that, well, some delightful anatomical parts suddenly stand out and stand up at attention. Okay I admit it! One of the most delightful things about Songkran is a plethora of soaking wet young, pretty girls wearing very little except a smile. Sometimes it’s nice being the only farang around. You do get a lot of heart-melting smiles from the girls.

This is not to say that the guys are any less friendly. No they are all only too happy to wish me Sawadee Phi Mai…and of course dowse me, smear me with talcum powder paste, or best…hand me a cold drink. “Chai-yo!” I am not much of a drinker. Songkran is the one time of year when I “indulge” in more than a drink or two. In point of fact I never refuse a drink handed to me. It’s no surprise then that soon I’m definitely feeling in a festive mood. The locals do appreciate that a farang has come out to party with them, Thai style. I certainly appreciate being welcomed in a warm and friendly manner.

While this particular party will be going on well into the night, it’s time for me to start for home. Ah, if only I were a decade or two younger! Oh well, I’m thankful that I’m well enough these days to enjoy things as well as I do.

That evening, as my wife and I watched events unfold in Bangkok, I had to count my blessings that we were far, far away from the chaos. Here in Lampang everyone was having some mostly innocent fun. Somehow I don’t think anyone was doing much partying in the City of Angels this Songkran.

Stickman's thoughts:

Great report and photos!