One of the things I had been most looking forward to during our trip was being in Thailand for Songkran. For those of you who have NO idea what I’m talking about, Songkran is the Thai New Year and it is essentially a giant water fight! The word Songkran is derived from a Sanskrit term that literally means “astrological passage’” and can now be loosely defined as a transformation or change. While Thailand officially celebrates the New Year on January 1st along with the rest of the world, Songkran is still celebrated in April as it was when Thailand still followed the Hindu/Buddhist solar calendar. Now it is more of a spiritual holiday that has become sort of a “spring cleaning” While it has turned into quite the wild and crazy water fight celebrated by Thais and visitors alike, the water still symbolizes the cleansing of any negativity from the previous year while also promising good luck and fortune for the years to come. In some cities the celebrations last for days, but on Koh Lanta it was just one action packed afternoon that left Anthony and I feeling like we were twelve and totally soaked to the bone…it was awesome. Watching videos before the actual day gave us an idea of what to expect, but the actual experience was a million times better than what I was anticipating. If you’re ever in Thailand for Songkran, make sure you buy a water gun and get out there! It’s not to be missed!
The day before the Songkran celebration we were eating lunch at Sandy’s for the millionth time and got to talking to her about the festival. We weren’t sure where on the island would see the most action, but luckily she let us in on where to go. She said to make sure to buy water guns and prepare to be very very wet! We couldn’t wait! The next morning we were moving from our beloved Muchu house to the other side of the island, and while returning our scooter Anthony got hit twice…once even by an old woman with a hose! We checked into our new home for the next week, wrapped our scooter wounds in mounds of gauze and bandages, bought water guns, and made our way to Saladan Pier for some fun! On our way we were hit by countless locals waiting on the sides of the road with buckets of water, and even got hit by a few drive by assaults! By the time we decided to pull over and join the action in front of a string of packed bars we were already totally soaked and our faces covered in a mix of baby powder and water..a mixture that is supposed to bring luck and prosperity in the new year! We parked our scooter and joined the fun in front of a Jamaican themed bar where everyone was dancing to reggae and taking breaks from the festivities to throw back a few Changs. It was like a kid’s birthday party, but with beer!
On Koh Lanta during Songkran everyone basically lines the roads and shoots water at every car, tuk tuk, and motorbike that drives by. No one is safe, and everyone is totally into it. I’m pretty sure if I sat on the side of the road in Boston and shot water at everyone that drove by I would most likely get arrested for being a crazy person, but not before at least twenty people gave me the finger. Here, people in cars were just as likely to be throwing water as the people lining the roads! There is almost no way to do the madness justice unless you actually experience it for yourself, but to put it into a little perspective for my Boston friends: picture parade day in Southie only it’s 90 degrees and everyone is armed with a water gun…that’s Songkran in Thailand.
We spent three hours in the hot sun splashing strangers with water and getting equally soaked ourselves while techno music constantly bumped from the bars or, at one point, even a pick up truck that was also covered with people dancing. I saw old women shoot water from giant water guns at tuk tuks full of laughing teenagers, and more than one little kid managed to dump a bucket of ice cold water down my back. I let strangers paint my face with colored baby powder, and even managed a few good hits from my own pathetic little water gun (pro-tip: get your water gun early…the good ones will be gone by the time the celebrations start). We even ran into Sandy at the Jamaican bar where she was hanging out with the Thai cover band we had gone to see the other night. Sandy is definitely the coolest person on Koh Lanta.
As the sun started to lower in the sky and things started to quiet down, Anthony and I decided it was time to fill up our water guns and try our hand at some drive by soakings. We hopped on the scooter and headed back to Klong Nin Beach with our guns at the ready. Every time we passed a vehicle we made sure to get in some good shots, most of which were returned with plenty of water coming our way. There is no way Anthony and I don’t have a ton of luck and prosperity coming our way this year…we were totally drenched and loving every minute of it. Thailand is country full of incredible people, food, and traditions, but Songkran was just totally unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It truly captures the spirit of the Thai people. It is a day of happiness, excitement, and where everyone’s inner child is on display for people to see. New Year’s Eve has always been my favorite holiday because I love the feeling of starting fresh while simultaneously celebrating the moments of another year past. Thailand does it even better. Songkran is a true celebration of what’s to come as well as a cleansing of all the bad and negative that has happened. It was one of the happiest and craziest days of our trip thus far. For a little peek into the madness, check out our GoPro footage from this excellent holiday!