Songkran, New Years Eve with water

We are in Chiang Mai, Thailand and I am finally starting to settle into the swing of things, it only took about 2 weeks and I am now comfortable with going to bed late, sleeping in and doing whatever it is I feel like doing. And then Songkran came along.

Songkran Thailand Weapons
Weapon of choice

Songkran is a celebration of the Thai New Year which works according to the solar year (or used to until they standardized the date to the 13th-15th April, I would guess for consistencies sake). Thought to originate from India it traditionally involved pouring a little water over someones back, and bathing the Buddha statues strewn around the place, now however Songkran involves cheesy multi-colored water pistols, buckets and barrels of water with giant ice blocks for added “uuurgh!”.

Songkran Thailand streets
Chang Lor Road
Songkran Chiang Mai
That’s a lot of water

We are staying close to Chiang Mai gate, and the old moat running along Chang Lor Road is the source of refills for the assorted weaponry. As you can imagine, it isn’t exactly crystal clear, but somehow you overlook that for fun sake. Over the few days of Songkran we watched and joined in with thousands of people as they crowded along the moats edge, filling their buckets and barrels to throw at the utes, tuk tuks, and walkers as they passed by. After a few minutes in the general vicinity, water pistols become somewhat redundant as everyone is so wet as to not even feel the measly squirt of a squirt gun. This is where the buckets come in, sold everywhere, they come with string attached for dredging the murky moat to supply the rapid succession of throwing.

Songkran Techniques

There are a number of techniques employed in drenching. One is to softly pour a little over the backs of people walking past, another is to throw as hard as possible so that a veritable deluge of mucky water pounds the unwary passer by into a feeling of “what the hell just happened!”. I, of course, more frequently employed the second strategy and knocked off many a hat and sunglasses. At first the sensation of throwing water at people feels somewhat rude, but after being tumbled a few times yourself, you realize that it is just the done thing, and if you’re outside, you’re fare game.

Songkran is very wet
Lots of wet people
Thai New Year
Yeah, it’s ice water
Young and old for Songkran
This kids about to get soaked

We walked along until we found our own barrel for rent, and for a measly 50 baht had a huge block of ice dumped there-in, and that is where the fun really begins. How do you add to someones surprise soaking when they are already soaked? You throw a large bucket of freezing water, that’s how. The surprised shouts and shocked looks are so entertaining that we managed to maintain this course for hours before deciding to throw in the towel (ha). In that time it was fantastic to witness the utes with their own icy barrels driving past, open sided tuk tuks and pedestrians alike drenching and being drenched. The various styles of music pounding out along the streets for the dancing giggling participants (there was even a live heavy metal band playing on one section of the roadside) only served to improve the festive feel .

It brings out a freeing childish enjoyment in locals and farang alike. Never have I seen so much happiness, and so many smiles, all of it genuine, from young and old. As a farang myself it was great to be included, and at times singled out for a good drenching, the Thai people are incredibly welcoming and friendly.

Bowls at the ready, Thai New Year
Post throw
Thai New Year young and old
Go on old boy
Thai New Year Songkran Festival
What’s that Australia? Water restrictions…pfff

Some love the day and some profess to hate it, but one thing is for certain, there is no escape. If you leave the confines of home, you will get soaked… Fantastic.


Aside from Songkran I have finally bought a guitar (from Green Music, they are going to put my photo on their Facebook page!), seemingly the only left handed one in Chiang Mai, and have started my journey towards fame and fortune, or at least being able to play “house of the Rising sun”. My fingertips hurt and I am cursing a lot, but it is great to be learning something new. I have also started learning a game engine, not with any particular end result in mind, just because I have always wanted to, and now I can.

Also our wayward child Marty has returned from his travels, and is thoroughly enjoying my company and the many life lessons I have to teach him. Of course his return also means the jokes have become more crude, it’s a guy thing.

So 2 1/2 months in, and things are good, really good. My old life is already becoming a distant memory, and with every passing day my belief in what we are doing is affirmed. Sarah is loving Thailand and her blog reflects this

There is more to life than one place to call home (no matter how posh that home is),

More than the drudgery of 9-5 (or “half day” as I called it),

More than possessions (although I still have an affinity for these),

More than the contracts and bills, my God the contracts and bills.

And it is attainable for most, you just have to want it enough.

The Terrible Trio at Songkran
This is how we do it

0 thoughts on “Songkran, New Years Eve with water”

  1. Barbara Crawford

    I remember a little boy who would have revelled in throwing water at anybody passing by … guess the big boy really enjoyed it too… it sounds / looks as though you had a truly wonderful time. One of the best things in life is being able to let the inner child out (I envy you even this old duck still has an inner child who would love to come out and play)

  2. Barbara Crawford

    Hey Tyke, its now Tom speaking and borrowing Barbara’s lap top.
    The most important thing I want to say is well done to you and Sarah for having the courage to do what most people only dream about. Even at my advancing age I am so tempted to do it anyway and after reading your sites or whatever you call them even more so. This life which I live (or fight) is kind of difficult and getting more so by the day.
    I have been following Sarah on her site and I must say she seems a really nice person. Hi Sarah..! hope to meet you one of these days. Keep up your story, it is really interesting to read.
    Love to you both

  3. Hi Tykes, oh my goodness, this does bring back happy memories,you always caught Taunee,it’s so good to see you back on form, and I’m enjoying my ‘holiday’ with your’s and Sarah’s stories, and to see Marty joining you again. love mum x

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