Songkran: You’ll Never Be Dry Again!

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.

Sarah and Megan making sand stupas. Originally the idea was that you would bring the dirt back into the wat that you'd brought out during the year. For me, the idea was, 'SWEET! Sand castle!'

Thai dancing. And Thais dancing. Thais dancing Thai dance!

Sarah bathing a Buddha statue to make merit and bring good luck.

Buddha, nice and clean.

2. Crazy insane water party fight ridiculousness. Including buckets of ice cold water and ginormous water guns. And booze.

Part of Silom Road in Bangkok at Songkran.*

Songkran on Patpong. Still full of lady bars and creepy white men, only now they were all armed with water guns.*

*Photo by Melanie.

This guy REALLY wanted me to take his picture. Seriously, he stepped in front of my camera like this and wouldn't move. So I took his picture. I am nothing if not generous!

This was right after four guys surrounded me and dumped huge buckets of ice water on my head and wouldn't let me leave until the buckets were empty. Also, yes, turns out that shirt is transparent when wet. Valuable information I wish I had known before. All the important parts were covered, though, don't worry!

*Photo by Melanie.

Melanie, Eric, and me. Good times.

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…


Filed under Awesome, Special Challenge, Thailand

8 responses to “Songkran: You’ll Never Be Dry Again!

  1. Jess

    What a cool post! This sounds amazing! Meanwhile, we’ll be eating unleavened bread for the next week… so, seems a little unfair :)

  2. Yeah, this holiday wasn’t so much about deprivation…

  3. Marlee

    Crazy holiday, for sure! At least you couldn’t see through your pants…or could you?!

    Just attempted to make khoa soi. Doesn’t taste anything like we had, but it’s hot as balls! I used red curry; maybe if I used yellow if would taste different and the fact that there’s no chicken in it probably didn’t help either. I’ll try a different recipe next time. Love and miss you!

  4. Hahaha. This sounds like an experience my friend has when he went to Bangkok. Him and his friend got there just in time for the Full Moon party. They came out of their hostel and a gang of Thais started pointing (apparently very realistic looking) guns straight at them. They ran around for about 15 minutes before being cornered in an alley.

    The next thing they know, they were covered in water, paint and flour. Apparently it’s tradition to zone in on all the foreigners. Hahahaha.

  5. Megan it was my first Songkran and what an experience :) A celebration of two extremes, the religious serene side and the all water guns blazing side. Great photos, you’ve captured both perfectly.

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