Songkran Begins

by Andrew Stein

Songkran, as celebrated in Thailand, is the traditional New Year’s Day and includes a celebration that lasts almost a week. In each of my last two days in Chiang Mai, this festival began, the music got louder and more abundant, and the water wars were beginning in full force. Tradition is that people cover each other in water to celebrate the clean slate given to all at the beginning of a new year. All weapons are allowed from water guns to buckets to garden hoses, and every street I walk down, I try to spot any potential threats. I don’t mind the water guns, but it’s the buckets of water that can really do damage. Unfortunately (or fortunately because of the 95 degree weather), I was hit by a bucket right next door to my guest house while my guard was down.  From a safe distance, here she is smiling while holding her weapon of choice.

Ready for Songkran

I am dripping in water and many faces from around the street are smiling and some are laughing. I look at the culprit, and she is probably a little over 10 years old and has the biggest grin of anyone. I smile back, and continue walking down the street missing my guest house because I am understandably flustered. A little farther down, a couple, who witnessed the whole bucket-drenching event shot me benignly with their water guns and ask if I want to borrow one to get a little revenge. I take the biggest one I can find, the one where you stick the end in water and fill the gun like a giant syringe. I hide my weapon behind my back, approach the girl who is still smiling, wait for her to dump her water on the next unsuspecting passerby, and I get a clean hit on her back. My dignity is saved and I now feel I had a chance to play a role in the water wars of Songkran.