Songkran is the Thai New Year. Nowadays, the year begins on the 1st of January, like everywhere else. Today is a traditional Buddhist/Hindu festival, which is also celebrated in China, India and of course, er....... Poland. It's to do with the Vernal Equinox. April fools day also derives from the same event, which started in France in the 16th century, so I'm told, and was to do with mocking the diehards who didn't like the New Fangled Year starting in January, instead of April. Sort of temporal UKIP types, but without the racism. (Probably a naive assumption on my part).
I went out this morning at about ten, to find that nearly everything was shut, which was a bit of a problem as I was starving. I was walking along looking for a café, when I was annointed on both cheeks with what turns out to be white chalk. Instant Buddhist look, especially for a baldy like me.
Finally found a café open, where I had a strange breakfast of coffee and garlic bread. As I was sitting there, things started to swing into action. Everyone puts large dustbins full of water in front of their shops and houses, so that you can fill up your water pistol, or whatever receptacle comes to hand, in order to project water over passers by. There's a wonderful, smily carnival atmosphere, with pickup trucks constantly passing and throwing water at you. I stayed in the café to minimize the soaking, as I wanted to photograph the event.
After about an hour it started to rain, which didn't bother anyone very much as it was still warm, and we were all soaking anyway. People were very considerate. When they saw I had a camera, they just squirted me with water pistols. When I took my camera back to the hotel for a recharge, things changed and I had buckets of water tipped over my head, which in fact was extremely refreshing.
Only went a few hundred metres from the hotel all day, as this ritual soaking gave me the opportunity to change shirts several times and at least give them a quick rinse before the laundries open again tomorrow.
By about four this afternoon, it was just about all over. Quite a few people, mainly locals, were starting to get pretty wobbly, I noticed lots of half bottles of spirits being passed around. This would explain why more people are killed in road accidents on this day than any other time of the year.
Just got back from a very good meal, Nasi Goreng, followed by fruit salad and a large beer. As usual, there was music in the restaurant, on a large amplified TV, featuring a blonde woman doing a blatent rip off of Madonna. Give her her due, she didn't stop running about on a massive stage in front of a mega audience somewhere in Argentina. Whoever she was she had both stamina and thighs capable of squeezing the life out of a robust rhinoceros. Turned out it was Madonna.
Have to say, that was a really great day. Felt like a kid, only wetter.