For three days in April, Thailand celebrates the New Year, or Songkran. Businesses are largely closed. Kids are out of school. Half of the people in Bangkok leave town, returning to their homes and families all over Thailand to celebrate and make merit.
The other half don their tropical shirts, grab a water gun (or buckets of ice cold water) and take to the streets to celebrate by drenching each other and the thousands of tourists who have come here for the shenanigans.
Craziness like this takes place all over the country, but Bangkok is home to one of the biggest celebrations. They close main streets around town, and they warn people not to throw water on motorcyclists, or at least to just throw the water on their feet. Safety first!
This is our fourth time in Bangkok and the third time we will celebrate a New Year in Thailand since we arrived almost six months ago. And it was THE BEST! Who needs Western New Year’s fireworks or the gift giving of Chinese New Year when you can have an all out joy-filled water war with total strangers on the streets of Bangkok?
The Thai New Year is largely about letting go of the troubles of the past year and moving forth with a renewed energy and clean slate. It’s a cleansing if you will. So I suppose that a water festival is the perfect way to celebrate. Yes, yes it is. Especially when it’s 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside. I’ve never been so happy to be soaking wet. And for the equivalent of 15 cents, you can refill your water gun with icy cold water over and over.
It’s quite brilliant to watch an entire city let their guard down and just have a good time. Everyone is smiling. Everyone is having fun and partaking in the communal cleansing. There should be more of this unrelenting happiness in our world.
I don’t have a whole lot more to say except that any holiday marked by Hawaiian shirts and water guns is a winner in my book. Yet another reason to love the Thais and their country.
Next stop: Vientiane, Laos via overnight bus. And, yes, they celebrate New Year with water fights too! Let the fun continue!