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Songkran - Choose Your Weapons

songkran-water-pistols.jpg

Songkran is coming, the festival that celebrates the Thai New Year runs from the 13th to the 15th April each year. The New Year was moved to 1st January to be in line with the rest of the world, but we still keep the celebration in April. It's famous for the water fights. In the old days we'd throw water from metal cups, but technology has advanced, and with it the water soaking weaponry has far advanced beyond primitive cups of water!

So step 1 in enjoying Songkran is to choose your weapon. I recommend a smaller water pistol, something light, that can be carried in crowds and used for close arms soakings. The larger soakers can intimidate, but aren't much use in crowds*

Step 2, Where to celebrate: everywhere! All across Thailand people will be playing Songkran, if you walk down the side of a street, expect water pistols to shoot you from passing cars. Wherever people gather, Songkran will be celebrated and you will get wet. Many tourists celebrate in Khaosan Road in Bangkok, the backpackers hangout, but it's very crowded.

If you can't carry a water pistol, talcum powder mixed with water is a favorite of the boys. They wet the powder in the palm of their hands and dab it onto the faces of passing girls.

For women, a sturdy bra is recommended, or you'll be showing more than you want through the wet clothes. But also some of the boys get carried away and don't stop at touching just the faces of girls, by accident of course! This is where a close-arm water pistol will come in handy, to cool down a few over friendly boys.

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Step 3, don't forget the religious side. On the first day, the 15th in the morning we do a Tambone, a gift given to the temple to celebrate loved ones lost and thank Buddha for good things in our lives. So I'll be saying farewell to an honored Princess and saying thanks for my brother life.

All across Thailand in shopping malls and supermarkets, you'll see statues of Buddha with little water cups in a bowl of scented water with flowers in it. The tradition is to anoint Buddhas, arms and shoulders with the water and pray.

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Scented bottles of water: you'll see these sold next to the talcum powder pellets. They add a flower perfume to water used to anoint Buddha with. It's not for scenting the water in your water pistols with! A bottle this size will perfume at least a gallon of water, add some flowers and its ready to anoint a Buddha statue of your choice. This is typically done in the afternoon on the 15th, after the Tambone, around 2-3pm.

Sand Castles
(Source blog.th.88db.com)

Third day onwards, Sand castles, or rather Sand Pagodas are made. Some temples will be doing this, but the best places to see them are the beaches where competitions to make the best Sand Pagoda are common. I hope to get to the Chonburi Bang-Sen beach this 16-17th April to see the Sand Pagodas there. Map to location.

During the evenings there will be music and dancing, if you click the 88db.com link they have a list of many of the festivals on at this time, I'll be working, but most people will be out enjoying themselves.

*Updated

It's a little quiet in Bangkok this year, but I still managed to find a place to play in the streets around Siam Square. However I take back my comment about a smaller gun.

gonna-need-a-bigger-gun.jpg


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