Songkran (Thai New Year)

Phuket Travel Blog

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After the debacle in Malaysia (see prior blog for hideous details) , I took a severely long bus trip up to Phuket to meet my dear friend Denise who was making the journey to Thailand from LA for just one week's R&R. Phuket. What can I say? It was probably the least desirable place in Thailand for me, but since Denise's flight came in there, of course I needed to make the journey.

I arrived in the height of Songkran, which turned out to be amazing. The Thai New Year is celebrated by the people first going to the temple to make offerings to Buddha, but then is spent in drunken revelry which revolves around the concept that everyone in the country should get drenched with water. And when I say drenched, I am not quite sure you can comprehend the extent of what occurs.

I took a motorbike taxi from the bus station into Patong, which is the craziest and most famous place on Phuket. With all of my possessions strapped to me on this 15 minute drive, we were met by literally 100s of people of all ages in various places along the roads (intersections, bars, passing by us in other trucks and cars) with supersoaker water guns and enormous drums of water and buckets. By the time I arrived at the area of a guesthouse, I was soaked to the bone, as was my passport, camera, and everything else I had with me (fortunately, everything was fine and dried out). Some people decided the water treatment was best served, like revenge, ice cold. It was hilarious and insane.

After getting doused by a group of young English travelers, I found a guesthouse (the most expensive I stayed in anywhere in Thailand), and hit the road for the festivities. There is a main road in Patong filled at every step with tourist shops and bars, which mainly cater to the very young and drunk farong (Westerner) or the old Farong who hires young Thai prostitutes for the length of their stay here. These men and women both make me sick, and are something that you unavoidably see in Thailand, but never had I seen such a concentration of this as in Patong.

But back to Songkran! I had a couple of Chang (Thai beer) and hit the road. Other than in the sea or after a severe storm, I have truly never seen as much water or as many drenched people as I did in Patong. Locals and farong alike were taking no prisoners and drenching everyone with water guns and buckets every step along the way. The intelligent Songkran participant (which really is anyone who dares to leave their home) must protect his or her belongings (wallet, camera, etc) in plastic bags, or you can kiss your items goodbye. Sadly, I have no pictures of the event as I was scared to bring my camera out in the mayhem.

In many parts of the country, this celebration continues for at least two days, and in some places, can carry on for almost a week. While I laughed my ass off and had an amazing time, I am somewhat glad that I only experienced the one night of it. It seems that the festivities in Patong had started the night before (when I was still in Penang), so I only had the one night's drenching.
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photo by: Aclay01