Thailand

Drunk on Songkran: A Wet,Thai Adventure


Songkran is full on.

You don’t want to leave the hotel lest you get soaking wet. And I mean soaking wet. Today is the first day of the “official” three days of Songkran and we grab breakfast and decide to hightail it out of town. We have seen pretty well all we want to in Chiang Mai and so we call the airport and organize an earlier flight and head out to the airport. The car is pelted with water all the way out. It seems the Thais are almost drunk on Songkran. Some of the younger ones literally are.

We arrive in Bangkok to the same drunkenness. We check into our hotel and feel that we are almost prisoners here. John does a quick errand to the 7/11 that is 10 metres from our hotel’s front door, and comes back completely soaked and literally dripping wet; covered also in wet, white powder. We are afraid to take any electronic equipment out into the shrieking, laughing street. They tell us that it stops after 6 pm and in fact this is what happened in Chiang Mai. We have a feeling that Bangkok is probably different.

We plan to meet our friend Graeme from Australia (see Patong Beach, Phuket) who is in stopover mode through Bangkok, and head out for dinner and a beer. The street is aggressively spraying water at everyone and truckloads of kids are driving by with oil drums full of water; their water cannons and dripping buckets ready to hit you twice if they can. Farang (we ‘foreigners’) are the targets of choice, but we fare pretty well on our short walk to the restaurant. We choose to sit inside.

This is the first night of Songkran in Bangkok, although it started earlier up north. Everyone here is partying. Even the security guards and desk staff at our hotel are caught up in the fun. It is the start of a 3 day holiday here and one only needs to think of New Years Eve in North America to understand what is going on.

Some Brief Songkran Statistics:

Total road deaths so far during Songkran: 353 April 9 – 13
Total people injured so far during Songkran: 20,293 April 9 – 13

These are mostly motorcycle accidents attributed to drunkenness and not wearing helmets and the highest demographic is young males. It is turning into quite the political scandal here because the government had pledged to lower the road deaths from last year and in fact the totals exceed last years with two days still to go.

We wonder what the next three days will be like. In Chiang Mai, Nokia came up with a clever marketing ploy: they were handing out re-seal-able plastic bags that hang around your neck for your mobile or wallet; anything that might potentially get wet. John got four of them.

We thought Songkran was sweet in Chiang Mai – it is downright dangerous in Bangkok.

 

Tuesday, April 13th, 2004: Chiang Mai to Bangkok, Thailand

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