Day 180: Absolutely Songkran Wet

The day had finally arrived, the day all of Thailand’s people had been waiting for, Songkran. Songkran is the name of Thailand’s new year festival. On this day, shops close down, and everyone flood the streets (quite literally) for a day long water fight. Anna, Sarah and myself were fortunate enough to be staying at a great resort, where the owners (for a small fee) took us around all the hotspots in the back of their truck. It goes without saying, we got drenched, so read on and discover the madness of Songkran.

• It was an early-ish start for us, around 10am. I was in the middle of a wonderful dream, when who should disturb me but Sarah. She led with me for a while before Anna’s alarm clock went off.

• We needed very little for this day, it wasn’t worth risking our expensive phones, so we left them behind. Only packing the essential things like money into the dry bag. We had two hours to spare before our 4X4 chariot was set to leave, so we headed upstairs for some breakfast. Anna’s gopro was the only device capable of withstanding the aquatic annihilation we’d endure soon enough, but unfortunately the battery was flat. We left it to charge while we each enjoyed a bowl of porridge. That meal alone was enough to keep us going for a while.

• As the clock neared midday, the guys at the resort began filling a large plastic box with water. This was then loaded onto the back of the truck, which Sarah and I used to fill our water guns. We began the festivities early by spraying each other, while Anna attempted to reach some of her friends on her phone. When everyone was ready, we all found a place to sit, and our driver set off, making sure she kept the windows up at all times. It was on the back of the truck we made a new friend. A German girl named Miriam.

• I don’t think we got any farther than 100 metres before we were drenched. There were people everywhere, usually outside their homes beside a large barrel of water. The kids loved it the most, as for the adults, it was an excuse to get wasted on booze and throw water around. I found it difficult to maintain my balance on the edge of the truck, and ended up joining Anna at the rear. Hanging our legs over the hatch. Suddenly, I felt like I was in a first person shooter video game. All those years shooting bad guys from a moving vehicle would finally pay off. Take that man on a scooter, take that close tailing 4X4, take that mother carrying a child! There was no mercy, nobody was safe from our water-rific vehicle of doom. Things were made a lot worse for passers by after a stop to a 7Eleven. One of the ladies returned to the truck with 2 shopping bags filled with ice. After they were added to the large plastic tub, people jumped a mile when they were shot. Little did we know, other people also thought to do the same.

• We passed through Haad Rin, shooting anyone in sight, being sure to smile and shout “happy new year” to every unfortunate victim. But it wasn’t until we reached the hotspot “Thong Sala”, that we realised just how cold ice water is. Now, usually on the day of the festival the weather is hot and sunny, which would have been nice, but today was quite the opposite. We woke up to find a tropical storm outside. Strong winds blowing, rain smashing against the windows, quite frankly it was disgusting out. But by the time we’d reached Thong Sala, it was brightening up. However, there was still a cold wind. This really didn’t help matters on the back of a truck having water thrown us. Karma soon came to pay us a visit, after shooting countless unarmed victims, it seemed every passing truck also had an army on the back. We were shot at with various forms of water: clean, smelly, dirty, warm, but the worst of all was definitely the cold. They threw buckets as we passed, and because of the speed we were travelling, it felt like an icy slap across the face whenever it hit me.

• As we drove around we passed countless drunken locals. Some offered us booze, others wanted to wipe our faces with chalk and talcum powder. These were traditional items, and were a lot nicer to receive than a frosty blast to the back. I was so cold, that at one point my lips turned blue. I persevered, and eventually we were dropped off in the thick of it. The people from our resort drove to a safe spot, and told us we had until 2:30pm, as that’s when they’d be calling it a day. Thong Sala was officially crazy. The only shop to remain open was the 7Eleven, those poor employees had to endure drunken idiots buying more and more alcohol, while the inside of the building got wetter and wetter. How nobody slipped on the wet tiles was nothing short of a miracle. Directly beside the 7Eleven was a large rave type shindig, amongst all the drunken dancers were people with water guns, including us. It was fun to target people and have a water fight with strangers, and there was always a mutual truce whenever the other party needed a refill. There was one particular group Anna and I went up against that used ice water, somehow we stood our ground and fended them off. Victory was ours. But because their guns were so much more powerful than ours, it really hurt if they caught you in the eyeball. Wether or not we were going to get sick from all this water remains to be seen. But for anyone who’d just landed and didn’t have a tolerance to it yet, they’re probably guaranteed a bug or two.

• We remained around that area for sometime, and in homage to our friend Officer Hughes, I shouted “**** the police”, and shot an already wet policeman. I also sprayed their cars as they passed. I was a real hoodlum. As we patrolled the streets it was funny to watch the looks on people’s faces. You could sense an unspoken agreement between everyone that went like this: “if you don’t shoot me, I won’t shoot you”. Of course we ignored that agreement, and all hell broke loose. We fired at anyone and everyone. More often than not, the opposition would twist and twirl away, pumping their guns and firing from a hunched over position anytime the water hit their faces. Eventually we stopped and grabbed some beers from the shop. It was then we met a little **** of a child.

• He couldn’t have been any older than 13 or 14, but as we stood outside the shop, sipping on the golden nectar, he ran up to us and threw a bucket of water as hard as he could at our faces. In an instant, we all looked at each other and fired our guns right in his stupid little face. Have some of that you nerd!!!! As time went on he continued to annoy us, pushing to the front of the queue every time he needed a refill. At one point he was scolded by his mother (not literally) when he ruined Sarah’s beer. He continued to throw bucket after bucket, and unfortunately the water got in her bottle. We kept shooting him on the sly until we eventually got bored. We called a halftime on the partying when we were too cold and hungry. Then a search for an open restaurant began.

• Ureka, there was one man brave enough to keep his business running as the world destroyed itself outside. We used that time to dry off and warm up. I ordered a simple but effective meal, the pad thai, and had a coffee in the hopes it would warm me up. By the end, my lips had returned to the fleshy pink colour I was used to, and the four of us set off into the wild once again.

• I almost made it to the 7Eleven without getting a drop of water on me. That was until a local man singled me out, and sprayed me all the way to the front door. It was a real state inside now, the floor was a watery brown mess, as tens of people stood dripping wet in the queue. The a/c was on full blast, which didn’t help matters, and the pushing and shoving to get a beer was ridiculous. I was happy to get out of there. We spent the rest of our time in rave central, and welcomed any warm water people shot at us. It was funny to people watch that afternoon. You could spot the loose women from the respectable ones, the drug takers from the drinkers, and obviously, the locals from the tourists. There were a few girls using the water party as an excuse to wear very little, and push their chests up for maximum attention, half of them didn’t even have a bra on. Not that I was looking… Obviously. All I’m saying is it must have been cold out, as everyone was smuggling peanuts.

• Sarah and I grew bored after a while, so we left Anna to carry on dancing. She’d met up with her friends, so we didn’t feel bad for leaving early. About an hour earlier we had told the guys from our resort to go on, and we’d catch a taxi back. Miriam had been with us all day and chose to join us. She also had enough by that point, and I think ultimately, we just wanted a nice warm shower. There was a taxi parked up nearby, and for 150 baht each they took us back to the resort.

• We told Miriam we’d be eating at our restaurant later on, and she should knock for us when she was ready. That way we could all eat together, as no one likes eating alone. We then returned to our rooms. I think we each spent 40 minutes in the shower in an attempt to warm ourselves up. Never did I think I’d need a warm shower in Thailand. Usually we only take cold showers because of the extreme temperatures outside. When we were dry, we remained in the room watching tv shows until Anna returned.

• Anna explained that shortly after we left a fight ensued between locals. They had been drinking, and glass bottles were involved. She said the whole dance floor dispersed, and it was then she decided to call it a day. Anna was also in need of a hot shower, and shortly after she was ready, there was a knock at the door. It was Miriam. The four of us then went to our restaurant to enjoy an evening meal.

• I felt rude, as for the most part I was trying to connect my device to the Internet. We were leaving the island the next day, and were in for a long day of travelling. The girls wanted certain movies, and to download them we’d need a good connection. Unfortunately I couldn’t get one, so we had to enjoy each others company instead.

• I challenged Anna to a few more games of pool (digitally on the tablet). She was getting better, but I still bested her. The owners of the resort decided to close an hour earlier than usual, meaning we had to leave at 9pm. That would be the last we saw of Miriam, as she was staying on the island to do some diving. We wished her well, before returning to our room.

• The next few hours were spent looking at photos from the days activities, and watching tv shows. I tried to get to sleep earlier than usual, as I had to be up early in the morning for my third and final jab at the hospital. But as usual, my blog kept me up, meaning it was gone midnight by the time I was finished. The hardest part for me was yet to come. Much like a soldier scarred from the things he or she had seen at war, I would have to try and sleep, plagued by flashbacks of the day. All the shots I’d received, all the carnage I had to witness, and most importantly, all those good men who died on the battlefield of Thong Sala. It’s only fair that I finish today’s post with this classic line…

“YOU DON’T KNOW, CAUSE YOU WEREN’T THERE MAN!!!!!!” 20130421-022029.jpg

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