My mother is a wonderful human being. She is the kind of mom you hope you have and the kind of mom you hope you will be. She is kind, generous, loving, intelligent, responsible, and thoughtful.
Except for on the 4th of July.
Every year for the 4th of July, my mother is the leader on the path that takes my extended family straight to insanity.
She starts water fights, mainly with the kids.
She throws firecrackers at people, including her own mother, who is in her 80s.
She leads a bottle rocket and Roman candle fight, where two teams stand on either side of the lawn and just shoot things that are on fire at each other.
She instigated a “game” wherein my uncle rode his riding lawn mower across the yard and everybody shot bottle rockets at him.
She encouraged the same uncle last year to put a big ol’ firecracker of some kind in a watermelon and set it off. (That was actually pretty cool, and my uncle truly didn’t need much encouragement.)
She routinely gets body slammed or thrown into kiddie pools by a family member who has just had too much.
What I’m saying is, my mother would fit in perfectly with the Thai new year, Songkran.
The Thais grab onto any excuse to have a party. Western new year party? Check! Chinese new year party? Check! Thai new year 5-day-entire-country-on-holiday-crazy-ass-party? Double check!
Since everybody in Bangkok had the week off for Songkran and had left for their provincial homes, being in the city for the last week was amazing. The traffic was light, the streets were empty, and the BTS wasn’t packed. You could actually get across town in less than 12 hours and walk down the sidewalks without tripping over people and things. There were no ladies pressuring me to get a massage on my walk to the train station (“Massaaaaage, lady?”), and only the most dedicated street vendors were out. Even the stray dogs and cats were taking it easy. It was great.
For ease of explaining it, I’ll just say that the Songkran festivities are divided up into two parts:
1. Lovely religious activities at the wats (temples), including bathing Buddha statues, building sand castles, and being blessed by monks.
2. Crazy insane water party fight ridiculousness. Including buckets of ice cold water and ginormous water guns. And booze.
*Photo by Melanie.
*Photo by Melanie.
That paste on our faces is clay or chalk or something. It’s all part of the good times. You’d get a big “Sorry!” and then somebody would plaster your face, back, or neck with that stuff.
By the time I got home from the water fight, my clothes were still dripping water and the clay was drying on my face, so I looked beyond ridiculous. Thai people were literally stopping in the streets, pointing, and laughing at me. WHATEVER. I fully participated in your holiday, Thai people!
Overall, I have to say this week of Songkran was one of the best I’ve had in Bangkok in a really long time. I did some crazy water fighting and I did some cultural things, but most importantly, I got to hang out with some amazing friends (cue vomiting because of the cheesiness).
Now if everybody would only stay out of Bangkok…