After my travel companions left for the airport and I stayed as long as I could in our luxury digs, I packed up my things and headed for my much more austere lodgings, closer to the fun that was to ensue the next day. Songkran, a Thai New Year celebration and country-wide water festival is also known as the world's biggest water fight. The water is supposed to wash away all sins and bad luck and absolutely no one is safe from it for the duration of the festival. There are parts of the city dedicated to all out soak-fests where the beer flows almost as freely as the water, but even just walking down the sidewalk a joyous kid can run right up to you screaming "Songkran!" as he throws a bucket of water on you or shoots you with a water gun. The temperature is about as hot as it can get so it actually feels amazingly refreshing to get drenched and you can't help but laugh at the enthusiasm. I actually preferred to wander the streets and see how the locals celebrate rather then stay in the tourist packed water mobs (though I made sure to spend a good few hours there to "soak it in" before I bailed).
There were several parades with floats almost as perplexing as this one.
Nothing like an ice cold Chang or two and a water gun on a lovely afternoon
No one is safe! The streets are a battlefield!
In a few corners around the city people still tried to maintain traditions
and you could see worshipers pouring water over Buddha statues.
Traditional music and talent shows took place in the middle of the fest each day
Never mind the Subway/KFC signs, this is still Thailand
The kids take the battles even more seriously than the adults
Wat Suthat and the iconic Giant Swing
Temples were almost the only things open during the festival and
people lined up everywhere to pour water over the icons and pay respects
This beef soup street vendor was one of the few places open during the festival
so I pulled up a plastic chair, sidled up to the table and dug in. Yum!
Climbing up the steps up and around Wat Saket are some rather atmospheric nooks
People couldn't help but ring every bell on this small stop along the ascent.
Once you're at the top of Wat Saket, the view is gorgeous!
Entire families made the climb up the Golden Mount to pay respects
and pray for luck and fortune in the upcoming year
Near the base of the temple was a vendor selling coconut ice cream,
served inside an ice cold young coconut, drizzled with condensed
milk and topped with crushed peanuts. The climb was worth this!
If you were unfortunate enough to find yourself unprepared for the water festival
there were plenty of vendors on every street corner willing to arm you or
refill your weapons with water for a fee.