Travelling is as much about the people you meet as it is about the places you go. So when one of my best travelling buddies from last year, Tim declared he would be in Thailand at the same time as me and we should meet in Chiang Mai for Songkran, I jumped at the chance !
Songkran is the Thai New year celebration. A three day Epic street party water fight, Chiang Mai being the epi centre. The festival is the celebration of the Buddhist/Hindu solar calendar and celebrates the start of the new farming season.
The traditional water pouring is meant as a symbol for washing away all of your sins. Traditionally people would pour water over a small Buddha and each other to be cleansed. Now it has turned into a crazy street party with locals and tourists throwing buckets of water over each other and running around town with huge water guns. It gets pretty crazy!
So on day one I filled up my water gun ready to head into town. Well I did not get very far. I could not even leave the hostel without getting soaked. After a hose fuelled batted with some locals, the backpackers coming off worse, we made it to the main street. Carnage is an understatement. The cars are at a standstill. Locals are in the back of their pick up trucks with bins full of ice water. No mercy is given.
We find a tap and start to refill our guns. BAMM Injury number one. Shot in the eye with a super soaker 5000, by my FRIEND! Man down, man down. I cannot open my eye for an hour.
Once I am back in the game and can see, we move back into the street. Chiang Mai was built in 1296 as a walled city surrounded by a moat. The wall is now in ruins but the moat still remains. The water is not the cleanest and yes, some people fill their buckets and guns with it during Songkran. BAMM Injury number two. Someone throws a bucket of moat water over me and a creature that lives in the moat bites me. This leads to a lovely infected insect bite the whole size of my upper arm.
Four hours a day in the heat and getting soaked constantly lead to my suncream washing off. BAMM Injury number three. Sunburn. Yes us pale English love to burn.
Oh and I chose to wear denim shorts the first day. School girl error. BAMM Injury number four. Chubb rub. Yep my little fat, white legs rubbed on the denim and gave me a burn like line around my inner thigh. SEXY! Yay for Sudocrem.
Add in a few bruises from walking into things and my drunken adventures, by body was glad when the three days were over. I was also happy to be able to go for breakfast without getting soaked.
It was however, an epic three days. Being a semi grown up, you forget how much fun throwing buckets of water over each other can be. Songkran I love you. You could be my favourite festival so far!
A few tips for you though:
Reapply suncream often
Do not wear denim
Try and avoid the dirty water (nearly impossible!!!)
If you get a chance to visit Chiang Mai make sure you stay at Potaes House. Potae is the friendliest, most fun, kindest hostel owner ever. The hostel is so clean, cheap and in a great location. Plus she has the cutest cat, Latte.