Songkran Portal 2009: Everything About Songkran!

Songkran water throwing festival in Thailand (Thai New Year)Every year I do a little collection of links about Thailand’s amazing Songkran festival marking the beginning of the traditional New Year.

This is by far the most links I’ve put together (and without any form of organization to them at all – just a mess of links) on Songkran. If you can make it for Songkran – you must – at least once in your life. It’s really the most fun I’ve ever had and probably you’ll rank it top 10 in your life as well…

Top Songkran Links over the last couple years:

What is Songkran Water throwing festival? (Thai New Years)

Songkran Festival videos >

A little history about Thailand (Songkran blip) >

5 Photos of Songkran Festival >

Another 5 Songkran celebration photos.

Thai Holidays – a list of Thai celebrate annual holidays

How to make yourself squirt… ( make a squirter by yourself)

The Thai concept of “Face” – I watched a man die during Songkran Festival.

Thailand Musing’s, Thai New Year Songkran Festival or Water Festival

My category of Songkran articles I’ve written at this blog.

6 Photos of Songkran, Thailand.

6 More Photos of Songkran Festival.

4 Songkran festival videos and TIPS.

Second Songkran for me in Thailand.

Why Songkran Water Festival (Thai New Year) is the most fun I’ve ever had

Songkran 2007 – Photos, videos, history, firsthand experience, and links

Making a BIG PVC squirter Stick for Songkran

Jason’s Songkran post at Isaanstyle’s Thailand blog

Jason’s article about Thai group wanting to ban alcohol for this 2009 Songkran.

Jason’s article about a fight during 2007 Songkran – guy a with a SWORD!

Jason’s article about traffic deaths during 2007 Songkran

Jason’s post about Thai ladyboys (Katoeys Thais’ call them) during Songkran Festival – link to video

Jason’s video as he rides through Ubon during Songkran

Songkran Pics at The World is Not Flat.

Introduction to Songkran | Thailand Musings

Some history about Songkran from Thailand Musings

Choosing hotels for Songkran – Steve at Thailand Musings

YouTube Videos of Songkran >

Over 16,000 Flickr Photos of Songkran >

How to Make Yourself Squirt!


I’m usually not laughing when I check my statistics everyday. There’s little to laugh about. I’m happy sometimes, yes. That’s where it ends. Laughing? No. Not until today.

I was looking at the phrases surfers used to arrive at this ThaiPulse blog and found something pretty funny.

Check out # 20.

Top search queries
1. songkran 2007
2. thai2english
3. perfect lady boys
4. katoey
5. katoey blog
6. perfect ladyboys
7. katoeys
8. songkran holiday
9. thaipulse
10. songkran water festival
11. water festival thailand 2007
12. perfect ladyboy
13. a bird lands on an angry tree
14. thai warin
15. youtube blocked in thailand
16. chaiya meditation center
17. iphone thailand
18. bird lands in an angry tree
19. gwat
20. how to make yourself squirt

I’ve NEVER, and I PROMISE – said anything about how to make yourself squirt. I do wish they had “gender” attached to these search queries so I could see how many men and women searched on this topic.

Funny stuff.

I promise, really…

6 More Photos of Songkran Festival in Thailand


6 more photos of Songkran Water Festival

 I have videos too  that I'll upload to my site and later to Youtube when Thailand stops blocking it..

I think I have the largest collection of articles about Songkran. If you follow the link below you will see LOTS of information about Songkran.

Many photos. Many videos.  Enjoy!.

Here is a link to all the other informational articles about Songkran on this blog:  Thailand's Songkran Water Festival >

Why Songkran Water Festival in Thailand is the Most Fun I’ve Ever Had…

Songkran is the MOST FUN I’ve ever had because…

1. I don’t have to work or do ANYTHING except have fun and eat whatever comes around on the food cart for 3 days.

2. It’s extremely hot in the sun and yet I’m never hot because I’m constantly “refreshed” with cool, sometimes ICY water spray, splashes, droplets and torrents.

3. Usually there is something illegal to drink, and nearly everyone except those with kids are drinking and in a state of uncontrolled merriment.

4. Songkran is the safest example of experiencing masses of people in near chaos.

5. Songkran is the closest thing I’ll ever come to a Roman orgy.

6. I don’t answer my cellphone or get on the computer or think about any electronic device except a camera which is for documenting the fun only.

7. I’m a celebrity in the smaller towns because only 1 out of every 30,000 people or so is a foreigner. Everyone loves me and everyone wants to smile at me, splash me, touch me and say something sweet to me.

8. Police aren’t checking motorbike riders for helmets during Songkran.

9. The most beautiful girls (and sometimes Katoeys – ladyboys) want to touch my face gently and rub powder on my cheeks and tell me “Welcome to Thailand” or “Good Luck” or “I love you…”.

10. The motorbike gets washed for free.

11. It’s outrageous fun to splash people that you’ve never seen before and have them laugh and smile at it instead of rip your head off like they would in the USA.

12. The music is loud and there are people dancing all over the streets in their comfortable Songkran clothes and also in the pickup trucks that are driving by full of people in the back.

13. I’ve never seen the entire age range from babies to geezers having more fun at the same time. I’ve never seen more smiles in one day than any day of Songkran.

14. Groups of people offer me lots of FREE alcohol.

15. I completely wear myself out having fun. After 10 hours of squirting and throwing water in the hot sun it’s exhausting and I sleep like a baby by 9pm during Songkran.

16. I can dance with and flirt with all the beautiful girls and women and my girlfriend doesn’t care and neither do the girls’ boyfriends!

17. The look on a little kid’s face who is only about 5 years old who finally gets the nerve up to pour ice cold water down my back is… PRICELESS.

Those are some of my personal reasons for calling Songkran Water Festival the most fun I’ve ever had.

What are some of yours?

Songkran 2007 Water Festival in Thailand: Photos, Videos, History and Links

Songkran Links: Photos, Videos, History,
Tradition, and Articles of Firsthand Experience…

There are a few good web sites to see Songkran Water Festival photos and information. I finally found some Songkran videos and some of them are so good that I don’t know if I want to shoot some myself this year! Afterall, risking the video equipment is not always an idea I get revved up about. We’ll see what happens. Guess I should record some just to make myself remember it some day when I’m old laying on the couch with my left hand down my pants and the right hand wrapped around the remote…

Here are some links to photos and a tip page about enjoying Songkran… I’ll probably shoot some video this year and have it at Thaipulse.com a few days after this years Songkran.

great Songkran photos at Khao Sarn Road, Bangkok Songkran 2006 – don’t miss page 2 link at bottom

– many good Songkran photos
more good Songkran photos
– and MORE crazy Songkran photos!

A video search engine that found a lot of Songkran videos >

Richard Barrow’s tips on Songkran Water Festival

A history of Songkran and its’ origin…

Another review of the history and traditions of Songkran with accompanying photos

Links to other Songkran articles I’ve written on this blog:

If you can swing it – you should really visit Thailand for this holiday. Don’t stay in Bangkok as most people have left Bangkok to go to their home cities where they grew up or where their parents are. Bangkok is deserted except for Khao Sarn Road which is very nutty with foam parties – farang style Songkran.

Come and See Songkran!

Songkran Water Festival in Thailand, a 3, 4, or 5 Day Holiday this Year?

Songkran 2007 Water Festival: 5 Days Long!

Last night on the Thai news there was mention of Songkran 2007 going for a total of 5 days this year! I heard it on the TV and couldn’t believe what I heard. Then I saw it on the internet – the NATION online which also said the same thing.

Usually Songkran is 3 days. IF it falls on a weekend the Songkran rulebook (Thai law) says that it can be extended for another day. This year it’s being extended another day after that extension!

So, Friday, Sat, Sun, Mon, and Tuesday you will have a good chance of getting drenched. In places like Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Khao San road it would be a given that they’ll max out the 5 days with water throwing. Other places – it will likely be sporadic with mostly kids still throwing water on days 4 and 5.

Songkran is fun, but man, 4 or 5 days of it would just be too much I think…

Songkran Water Festival: Big Squirter Stick Instructions

Songkran Water Festival in Thailand 2007:
Making a Big Squirter Stick (squirt gun)

Songkran Water Festival PVC tubesPVC endcaps for Songkran Water Festival squirter tube

Ok, here it is – how to make a Songkran squirter stick out of PVC plastic tubing for Thailand’s Songkran Water Festival. First you’ll have to find a store that sells this stuff. I’ve seen them around the city – they are almost always open-aired stores – the front is open to the street. These PVC pipes are visible as you drive by. Really, it’s that easy for some reason. I’ve seen 3 of these stores and stopped at one and got the materials you see here. I still need to go to one of the other stores to see if I can find the perfect rubber o-ring seal. Yep, I’ll do that today, nothing else to do!

2 PVC blue tubes for water gun for Songkran Water Festival

A Songkran squirter stick is essentially a smaller plunger (inner tube) going in and out of the water reservoir (bigger tube) to suck in and push out water forcefully through a nozzle in the front. Really a simple concept that would be much better explained with a video, but the video will follow this instruction post since my squirter stick is not assembled yet.

Parts:

* 2 PVC TUBES: The outer and thicker tube is one meter long. The inner tube is one meter plus about 5 or 6 inches. Yes, these are BIG tubes.

The diameter of the hole in the inner tube is EXACTLY the same size as a Thai 10 baht coin, so take one to the store with you. The outer tube’s diameter is larger than the smaller tube’s diameter by enough that the smaller diameter tube fits inside the bigger tube EASILY. It’s NOT a snug fit. It definitely shouldn’t be.

* There is an ENDCAP for the outer tube. It’s a solid cap that fits OVER the end of one side of the tube. See photo left. I’ve put a black circle on the spot that a hole will be drilled for the water to exit the Songkran tube. This cap becomes the nozzle that the water squirts out of. This outer tube endcap can be glued on the outer tube anytime.

* From the photo at the top you can see I’m using “Thai Pipe” PVC cement. This one was 30 baht and smaller than the other can they had for sale which was only 15 baht, but the woman said this 30 baht can was “dee gwah”, much better. I think “much better” is better because this thing will get some heavy duty use during the 3 days of Songkran. MORE if you’re in Chiang Mai where I heard a rumor they were starting Songkran on April 1st to combat the heat and the bad smell of smoke in the air. No joke. Don’t know if that happened or not, but, knowing how crazy they get in Chiang Mai over this Songkran Festival they will have Songkran TWICE if they make the decision to start it on April 1st! You KNOW they’ll do it again on the 13th like the rest of the nation too and probably for a week each time, not the customary 3 days!

* There is another ENDCAP for the other end of the outer tube. This end cap is open – and fits OVER the outer tube end. It fits snugly. It has an open end where the inner tube will slide back and forth. It will be a little bit more snug on the inner tube because as you’re squirting you don’t want the water to be dripping all over you, only going out the front of the tube.

* The funny cap with the screw threads is just that – a funny cap. You can use this or something else. The point is you need something that screws INTO one of the inner tube ends and can sandwich a piece of rubber or a rubber ring (o-ring) between the cap and the end of the inner tube. This rubber seal and end, once assembled should fit inside the outer tube a little bit snugly, but still be able to be moved in and out as the inner tube slides into the outer tube. It needs to be somewhat snug to push the water out the front of the tube without it squirting backwards much – at you.

* The rubber inner tube from the motorbike tire was the woman’s idea who was selling this stuff. I will go back out and try to find an o-ring seal of rubber to put between the cap and inner tube – but, this rubber might actually work. If I used the rubber shown here I would cut a circle with a hole in the middle – like a donut and put one end of the screw cap into the rubber and then push the cap INTO the smaller tube, and sandwich it all together. It might work, might not. I’m thinking a rubber o-ring would be a whole lot better though.

If you do get a rubber o-ring – make sure it’s thick and strong. Plastic might even work OK if it’s flexible a bit. The key is to create a snug plunger that will move inside the outer tube to push the water out of the small hole in the front to great distances.

STEPS to ASSEMBLY:

PVC parts and glue for Songkran Water Festival squirt gun1. If you haven’t already, glue the big outer cap to the good end (the end not cut with a saw) of the outer tube with a lot of glue. I dont’ know how well this stuff sticks. It looks like regular rubber cement to me until it dries on my finger, then I can’t peel it off. Hopefully it bonds PVC together well!

2. Put the smaller end cap on the bad end (the irregular end cut with a saw at the store) of the inner tube with a lot of glue. This is the end you’ll be pushing against with the palm of your hand to shoot the water.

3. Configure the inner tube with the open end with some configuration that acts as a plunger to push the water out of the squirting end of the outer tube. This may require some jerry-rigging (hocus pokus) but you’ll come up with something. Work your farang magic and come up with something. The Songkran tube I used last year had this nice cap that fit on the end of the inner tube – that sandwiched a round rubber o-ring seal between it and the inner tube. It made the diameter of the inner tube bigger and fit well within the outer tube – a nice fit that gave a lot of power as I was pushing it hard and shooting the water over 30 feet with the wind.

Whatever you do, don’t put the final cap on the end of the outer tube that blocks water from coming back out until you are sure your plunger works very well and will work for many times squirting it. The last cap acts more as a piece that keeps the whole thing together and you don’t need to worry about pulling the inner tube out of the outer tube. It’s optional though I guess. It does help to align the tubes for when you’re sucking in or squirting out water – so I think it helps a bit. Up to you I think.

4. Drill a small hole – about the size of a pencil diameter into the big cap – the squirting end of the long stick – as shown in the photo with the black dot. You’ll want to get your Songkran squirter together and try it out. If your stick is thick like mine (not bragging, just stating the facts) your hole might need to be a bit bigger to make it easier to push out the water and easier to hold in your hand. Women, you might want a smaller diameter stick, easier to push out the water. My arms and shoulders were pretty tired after a few days of this activity, but I never stopped – I just popped some Paracet (tylenol) and kept going!

Dip your Songkran stick into a tub or wastebasket (or sink) full of water and get squirting to see if it’s going to work for that all important Songkran 1st day. You need to be sure you’ve got something that’ll work all day for 3 days. You could make a back up or make some smaller stealthy ones if you were so inclined… Mine is a bit hard to hide. last year mine was a peach color. I don’t know WHERE my student found that color, it didn’t appear to be painted.

That’s pretty much it. I’ll have some video of me demonstrating the whole setup when I get mine together.

Songkran Water Festival starts on April 13 and goes for 3 days through April 15th. If you’re lucky enough to live in Chiang Mai where they get the craziest over this holiday you’ll be enjoying it for a week long at a minimum. They are off the hook in CM for Songkran usually. If you prefer an all out ORGY of water throwing madness – point yourself up there for the holiday. You’ll find out how nuts it can get.

In other parts of the country – especially the Northeast it starts out slowly and gets going good each of the Songkran festival days at about 1pm or so. By 4pm all the young guys are drunk and things appear to be CHAOS, even in small towns like Ubon Ratchathani especially in the small main streets – if that makes sense. Some streets are just naturally more packed with nutty folks. The highway between towns is also lined with some crazies throwing water at motorbike riders (like me during Songkran last year). One idiot steps out into the street and throws a bowl of water that hit me hard and it felt like being hit by a brick. I was going about 80 km per hour since I was able to slow down some before he got me – but, yes, I understand how people die during this water festival with a lot of people drunk and some doing stupid things.

You’ll have to come and experience it though – JUST for the experience. You’ll see some really nice people that sprinkle water on others (my girlfriend). You’ll see Thai guys that are drunk and patting other men – especially farang (westerners/foreigners) with cooling powder in the face, neck, chest and eyeballs and kissing us, hugging us, taking photos with us, making us drink their Lao Kow (Thai whiskey) and more…

You’ll probably see some idiot farang that think it’s time to take their personal grudges against the Thai people by throwing dishes of water VERY hard into the faces of people riding the streets in the back of pickup trucks. Farangs seem to be really bad at this as a whole. Most of us just don’t “get it”.

Anyway, so it’s supposed to be a fun festival – and for me, it’s been the greatest time. This will be my third, and from the looks of things my final. I’m going to “play Songkran” as the Thais’ say it, in Pattaya this year!

Songkran Water Festival in Thailand, 2007 – GO!

Songkran Water Festival (Thailand Holiday)… Squirter Sticks

SongKran is Coming… Get your Squirter Stick Made and Tested.

I rode by a PVC store a couple times recently. Everytime I do I'm on the way to eat and so I don't have time to stop and take a look. I'm on a quest to create the ultimate SongKran Holiday (water festival) water squirter.

Last year I had a student that gave me hers.  It was well made, and when some degenerate kid borrowed it for 10 minutes and broke it, I had a chance to examine the insides.  I think I've got it in my mind exactly how to make one like that, but I want mine to be a bit bigger – hold more water. I want to squirt twice (doesn't everyone) without having to refill the stick.

I'll try to explain the SongKran water tube (gun) and what it's good for.

Primarily it's a stealth weapon.  One doesn't need to run up to a truck, water bucket (dish) in hand and throw the water on someone who is fully aware that the water is coming. The stealth stick has the ability to launch anywhere from 3-10 meters (with wind) a large stream of water that retains it's cold temperature if one had the inclination to fill the tube with the iciest water available before firing it off.

I like the tube over the dish for many reasons…

1. I can stay in the shade over the overhang at the store I'm in front of while everyone else is out running into the sun's HARSH radiation rays every few minutes. I am able to retain my white glowing and luminescent skin while others are nung si dum (black skinned) and obviously lower classed than my white self.
2. My weapon is almost unique. Nobody really takes the care to make one of these the right way. There are cheap imitations that kids can be seen using, but they are weak compared to my manly stick.
3. It's a perfect example of mai pen rai. These squirters are illegal and yet nobody will say anything about them – police included because, it's SongKran… almost anything goes – and does.
4. I can usually stay away from the boys and katoeys that want to powder my already white god-like face with smelly powder that invariably goes in my eyes and in my mouth.
5. If someone is obnoxious by pouring ICE cold water down my back when I happen to be engaging some other opponent I can hit them with a strong jet stream straight to their eyeballs and smiling face that renders them temporarily blind and unable and unwilling to further their stupidity.
6. I can stealthily attack from a distance so great that the object of my stream cannot fathom who might be hitting them. This is very effective in short spurts. If I spurt the object (person) from a great distance and turn my head sideways and look sideways at their confusion it brings a secret smile and some satisfaction of a SCORE.
7. The dish can be turned back on one's self in the midst of an attack. Not so easy for the stick to be turned around to squirt me in the eye.
8. I made it. There is some pride in my stick. It's mine. Someone might borrow it for a few strokes of the plunger, but factually it's mine and it's a part of me after I use it the whole day.
9. If a fight ever broke out I could use my stick to beat asunder the 912 Thais' that are attempting to whoop me.  Try THAT with a squirt gun or a dish.
10. Soi dogs too – become victims instead of attackers.

So here's a description of how to go about making one. I hope I can make it make sense. 

The PVC tube should be about 3-4 feet long – a bit longer than a meter I think. Mine last year was about the diameter around of a little less than a cardboard toilet paper roll. I'll tell you about mine last year and then later show you a photo process of making mine for this year.
So, that is the outside tube. It must be hard and pretty inflexible. I'm guessing the diameter of the walls in that tube were 1/4" thick.   When I filled it up with water it didn't flex at all. It shouldn't flex easily, it should take a lot of effort to bend it at all.

Now, the inside tube should fit inside the the first tube.  The inside tube can be of thinner diameter plastic – maybe as thin as 1/16" thickness to the walls.  This tube should be 4-5" longer than the first tube because you'll need a handle to grip and to push out the water with.

Make sure the inside tube will slide easily in and out of the first tube since, if you're "playing songkran" correctly you'll be pulling that thing in and out about 400 times each day… x 3 days = a lot of pushing and pulling, and probably the most fun you've ever had.

Squirting strangers with your big stick for 30 hours over 3 days is a most exhilarating experience, I can assure you.

Now you'll need a handle for the 2nd tube. This handle can be whatever you want – but a plastic end cap works OK. Make sure it will be comfortable in your hand because you'll be using the palm of your hand to push the water out when you get tired of gripping the handle.

For the other end of the 2nd tube (inner tube is 2nd tube) you'll need a cap AND a round hard rubber loop to squeeze between the cap and the end.  What that means is -the cap must have a smaller diameter end that fits INTO the 2nd tube and you put the rubber ring around that inner piece first before squeezing on the cap and making the cap and rubber ring go almost flush with, but still a little larger than the 2nd tube.

The cap for the 2nd tube must be small enough to fit completely into the 1st tube just a little snugly. You'll be dipping the front end of the big stick into the water and pulling out the handle to suck up the water, so the seal between the rubber ring and the outer tube must be just right.

Once you have all those things – just buy a hard plastic cap for the front end of the 1st tube – that fits OVER the end and is flat at the end.  You'll need to drill a hole in that cap – or multiple holes if you wish to squirt multiple streams. I think one stream about as big as a pencil diameter is good. That's what I had last year. Maybe even a bit thicker would be better, but I think I'll drill a small one first and make it larger to experiment with the optimum stream size.

All of these pieces and a can of glue should run you about 200 baht I'm guessing. That's $5 usd.  Add to that the cost of buying a couple 30 lb blocks of ice each day and you'll probably spend $12.50 usd in 3 days.

If none of this makes ANY sense to you at all – just wait until I get my supplies together and I'll give you a proper how-to post for making your SongKran Stick Squirter.

Songkran squirter stick pic I found in someone else's blog >  This blog has a lot of great photos – you should have a look. 

I'm  jaded about the best places to go to celebrate SongKran – I think the northeast is the best.  Isaan.  The people have a great attitude and there are few bad incidents or negative incidents (fights or groping). I spent the first 2 years there and I had more fun than a farang should be allowed to.

Unfortunately this year it looks like I'll be in Pattaya because I've not seen a good reason to leave yet. I'm doing social research so to speak.  LOL.  God I've eaten some good farang food lately.  Add to that the Beer Laos I can get here and things are looking pretty comfortable. Pattaya isn't ALL bad… the dance clubs are great and the food is great. I've met some good people and there even appear to be decent Thai girls here as well. Not everyone's a bargirl…

Ok, I'll go out today and find some PVC parts to get assembled and take lots of photos for a good blog post.  Assuming I don't get loopy on the glue, I'll post it ASAP.

Until then…

SONGKRAN: What is Songkran Water Throwing Holiday?

Songkran 2007 Water Festival!

Time to make a Songkran PVC water tube!

I know a lot of expats don’t seem to like Songkran holiday, but for me it’s the most fun I have every year. This will be my 3rd one. We’ll be in Ubon Ratchathani or Sisaket for it.

I thought that the entire country takes part to the extreme in every city, but recently I was told by co-workers that here in Surat there is not a large group that takes part… In the northeast – which is all I know, it is a huge bash – that nearly everyone takes part in. The city area is jammed with traffic by 2pm bumper to bumper on the main roads as trucks full of revelers drive up and down the streets until sundown.

In Chiang Mai I’ve heard it’s quite crazy. In Phuket – Patong – same. I just figured everywhere is nuts. But here in Surat it’s rather tame. Come here if you don’t want to get into it much. I’m not sure about Samui, I would think it’s quite crazy. Anybody been to Koh Samui for Songkran?

Last year I told one of my English students during conversation class that I wanted to find one of those PVC pipe tubes that shoot the water really far. She brought one for me the next week – her own. I used it and was planning to return it – when, on the third day some kids that borrowed it destroyed it… man, what is it about Thai kids errr, Thai people and borrowing things – there is no special care taken for things that they borrow. Half the time I lend something out – it comes back broken or in worse condition than when I lent it to them. Has everyone noticed this? Even Thai people notice this! The man and his wife that rent us the house here told us that they’d rather rent the house to “farang” because we take care of things in the house better than than Thai people! They wouldn’t rent to Thais!

That’s another post though – I’ll list the things that have come back to me destroyed – or that just haven’t come back at all!

So, last year was great. I had a PVC tube that was able to push a heavy stream of water over 20 feet. 30 feet with the wind favorable. It’s the coolest Songkran squirter because you can hit people covertly. AND, it’s a decent quantity of water. AND it’s good to shoot only ICE cold water so they really are surprised when it hits.

If you haven’t enjoyed Songkran water holiday in Thailand yet here is a short description what happens. Well, here is what the first day is typically like.

********************************************

The night before Songkran I spend some time making sure that everything works. I’m staying in a hotel in Sisaket and I’ve got my things in thick waterproof plastic bags – my cellphone, money, ATM, passport copy, drivers license, camera. This year I’ll have a video camera that I attempt to keep mostly dry. It half works anyway -so no worries if it finally succumbs to someone’s well placed PVC squirt from a covert location.

I have a towel, 2 changes of clothes and sunglasses under the seat of the motorbike. I have 5 or so squirt guns – to give to the kids whose photo shop we stand in front of every year. I have 2 water scoopers with handles – that I use if I don’t have a PVC tube to squirt with.

We (g/f and I) go to bed early so we can get up early and get some breakfast somewhere before people start throwing water. We’re never totally dry when we arrive to eat because invariably there’s some kids already throwing water at 7 am. If they are tiny kids – babies really, we swerve the motorbike over and let them hit us and act surprised… let them laugh at the farang. Ha! This is half the fun – letting them GET the farang.

So, we eat as much as possible and drive around the city on the motorbike. It’s probably not too hot at this point, and hopefully we’re not hit by really ice cold water so early – but, it happens… Eventually we tire of driving the motorbike around and people are a little aggressive with the water throwing – I’ve had buckets thrown under my helmet in my face which temporarily blinded me… so – I don’t enjoy the motorbike rides all that much.

I prefer to stay on the side of the road and throw water from there at all the trucks going past. It’s safer – I know the surroundings – and people are nicer to me – because they’re a bit surprised to see me. If on the motorbike or in a truck a group of guys can be more aggressive about throwing water on the farang. I’ve even been dragged off my motorbike and thrown into a large red plastic soda container – ice chest – FULL of ice and icewater – and dunked. This was a Vietnamese group in Ubon Ratchathani. I thought I’d show off my Thai and so I called them “Chow Yoo-Un” and from that point on – after the dunking – they didn’t really talk to me much. They were a bit shocked.

In hindsight I think “chow yoo-un” must be a racial epithet that Thais’ call Vietnamese – and it might not be the fondest of terms. But, they weren’t mean to me – guessing it was due to my ignorance, but there was a slight mistrust toward me from then on – I only stayed about 40 minutes before moving on, feeling totally unwelcome after my slip of the tongue! ANYONE know – is Chow Yoo-Un a BAD phrase to call them?

So – we usually camp out in front of this photo place where there are 14 kids around 5 garbage cans full of water. The kids are very fun and they remember us from years prior. We give them the squirt guns and they love to pour the iciest of water down farang’s back. Sometimes I chase them down and return the favor – othertimes I just let it go – giving them the shocked reaction they’re looking for.

Things get going about 9 or 10ish am. There is LOUD music across the street a few doors down – I think it’s a speaker STORE so they have extremely loud music. It’s great to watch trucks of people stop, get off the truck and dance to “Baby’s got Back” or some other hip hop music while the rest of everyone is throwing truckloads of water on them as they pass – and from the streets and windows above them.

Things REALLY get going about noonish when those drunk from the night before wake up and want to get in on the action. I usually forget to eat lunch until about 2 pm as the fun is so intense that I forget about it. From 2pm on though it’s ROTI for me – and lots of them. Roti with bananas is a great snack that substitutes for lunch during songkran. The guy that makes the roti in Sisaket at this certain area we are at – is a real trooper! he is dodging bucketloads of water, some of which ends up sizzling on the burner in my roti – but he keeps going, ducking and smiling and keeping to the task. He must make about 9000 baht a day making these things. I can’t remember how much they are – maybe 15 baht each – maybe 10. I really can’t remember. They’re too little for what he’s going through to make them. He’s gotta make 1000 of them in a day. He pushes his cart along and stops wherever he gets customers. That is everywhere he goes. In fact he usually sits in front of our place for over an hour making them – until the demand dies down. I eat 4 of them or more myself everytime I see him, and my g/f has 2-3. The kids just attack him and order 10 at a time.

SO, as we’re standing there on the side of the road – and trucks full of people, motorbikes with all kinds of people, pedestrians walking next to trucks… everyone is throwing water and smiling and laughing and having the best time. There are motorbikes with a sidecar loaded with huge blocks of ice – 50 pound blocks maybe – and they sell them for 50-100 baht. I think they were 100 baht per block if I’m not mistaken. There are hoses running from every house into the street to fill up 100 gallon trash cans full of water. There are water and ice fillup stations where trucks can stop and fill up with these HUGE diameter hoses – about 8 inches in diameter! I don’t know how much they charge… I’ve ridden in a truck once and that is great fun also – but a little cramped and definitely uncomfortable. Seem to get more ice water poured down the back too – which, after 7 hours or so, can get a bit annoying.

Young people are drinking Kao Kao (Thai whiskey in coconuts or dirty bottles), between 12 and 4 everyone that’s drinking is feeling good – everyone is in a good mood… after 4 there are some getting TOO drunk and there are some temper problems sometimes after 4 pm. It is complete MAYHEM in the streets from 2pm until sunset. Picture everyone in the entire city coming out to jam the streets full. There are trucks mostly – inching down the street, most of the time stopped. There is loud party music always – playing from speakers that line the streets. Within my earshot I can hear 3 different songs playing at all times, though 1 place is the loudest and almost drowns the other two out. Everyone is soaked to the bone wet.

Occasionally you’ll see an older person that is relatively dry – riding a tuk tuk or sam lor and waving their one hand like, please spare me – I don’t want to get soaked. And if someone sees that they don’t want to get wet – they won’t usually soak them. Occasionally though the water thrower doesn’t see the person waving and they get it anyway. Others soak them on purpose – figuring nobody is getting out into the streets and staying dry – everyone on the street is fair game. Police can get water thrown on them at this time – and cannot do anything about it… well, “won’t do anything”.

The whole idea of Songkran is that it’s a celebration to cool everyone off with water during the hottest time of the year. It really can get HOT during this time. Isaan is on fire during this time – temperatures around 40 C. Even at night it’s hard to sleep, my skin seems to always be damp even with the fan directly on me. I sleep on the floor at the house or in A/C at a hotel. I hate using A/C but during this time of year it’s nice sometimes.

The other idea of Songkran is that it’s a time that young people can “court”. It started off years ago as a polite festival… people that didn’t know each other would throw or sprinkle water on another person and rub some powder on their face to make them fresh… It was (and still can be) a very nice, affectionate gesture.

What it has become though is something quite different as most people are practicing it nowadays. People throwing water can be quite rude or aggressive when they throw it. Their demeanor is still one of fun and games – and they are always smiling – I’ve NEVER seen someone do it angrily or in an obvious attempt to really piss someone off by drowning them in water. But, I think that people are too rough and that for some people – it’s a reason why they don’t enjoy Songkran much. Some will lock themselves indoors for 3 days or longer in Chiang Mai – just to avoid the insanity. It’s understandable maybe, it can get to be a bit much. If you’re someone that doesn’t enjoy cold water on them – and can’t laugh it off repeatedly and you’ll get upset after 5 times, 10 times, 300 times – then you should dry-dock yourself and don’t come out until night time when most people have stopped throwing water. Keep in mind that there are water throwing splinter cells that are all over the place – that are STILL throwing water at 10 pm at night. I’ve been hit on the highway on the motorbike – going 90 km per hour (57 mph) and had a bucket of water thrown at me and hoses squirted at me.

Boys are especially rough with young girls, not so much with the water in the face, but with the powder that they are supposed to place gently on the face – it becomes a slap in the face or a rough rub of the hand across the forehead and cheek, the powder going in the girls’ eyes, nose and mouth.
Sometimes the guys – when drunk will try to grab a girls breasts or put powder on her chest and squeeze her breast at the same time or brush the girls breast with a hand. There are news reports every year of girls being molested by groups of guys that stop them on the motorbike and grope them for a while… I don’t think any have been raped during this time – but I wouldn’t be too surprised to hear that is has happened.

Being a foreigner here and being wide open because I’m fully involved in the game – I also get quite a few guys that aggressively put powder on my face too! Most guys will ask before doing it – because they don’t really know if a farang guy will like it or not – but, I go along with it – and usually it’s funny. The guy putting powder on my face gets some “face” since he has the balls to approach me to do it – and everyone laughs and has a good time. At any time during Songkran a foreigner will have to drink with 5-20 different groups of Thais that are offering drinks. If you get offered a drink – and even if you don’t drink – you’d be wise to take some and make them all happy… they’ll lose face if you refuse -and sometimes they’ll blow it off – but when they’re drunk you never know what will happen.

Even if you really don’t want to drink – take SOME. Even if there is a group of 15 guys drinking from the same coconut and one straw – you SHOULD drink it too! To avoid any problems, do it. It won’t kill you! Keep everyone in a good mood, especially when they’re drunk – that’s my style.

My girlfriend said that I have more girlfriends each Songkran than she can count. And it’s true, sort of. There are girls that I lock eyes with – and it’s like we’re in a dream. We’re looking at each other like – if it wasn’t for this madness we’d be in a hotel room shortly and having the most fun two people could have. And this happens about 40 times during one afternoon. The girl might be bold, or I might be the one that is bold and go and put some powder on her face gently and let her do the same to me if she wants. Usually her friends are all teasing her and she’s blushing… and when the truck she’s in the back of pulls away she can’t stop looking back and smiling…

I’ve had girls say they loved me more times than I could count – screaming from the back of trucks… as they’re pulling away though… My students, strangers, friends, everyone is in such a good mood and their usual inhibitions are put the side a bit.

This is really the greatest party in the world… as far as I can see. To me – a great party is one that doesn’t have the threat of violence to me. Carnival parties all over the world don’t appeal to me at all. There’s little violence at Songkran and I never really felt threatened at all. I did see some young Thai guys fighting that ended up with someone dying from cuts to the stomach from a broken bottle. That too is another story. There are rival gangs in Ubon that enjoy cruising past each other and taunting and they usually fight each Songkran. There are so many ladyboys all over Ubon they seem to come out of the woodwork… During Songkran the Thais’ like to return to their home city to celebrate it. Bangkok is about empty and the northeast is rocking. They say that many bargirls and ladyboys come from the northeast. There are quite a few in Sisaket and Ubon for Songkran.

So – give it a try if this sounds like any fun to you. I’ll post some videos on my www.thaipulse.com site of this year’s Songkran festival in Isaan.

I’m going to go to the home store and see if I can find all the supplies I’ll need for my PVC squirter. They are supposed to be illegal – because they shoot a powerful stream of water that could hurt the eyes, AND piss people off, but if you don’t use it full force on someone standing close by – nobody is upset by it. Police have seen me use it and nobody took it.

You know, I’ve seen some incidents that kind of tarnished the Songkran image for me – and for others that were there – usually it’s farangs that I was with – that didn’t seem to “get it” – and saw Songkran as a way to attack people that were helpless or to get them back if they were doused with cold water or surprised with a bucket over the head. Some farang think Songkran is a free-for-all where anything goes… but it isn’t. If you watch the Thais’ during Songkran- as free for all as it gets – there is never anyone seeking revenge or being mean with throwing water into the eyes very hard or squirting with the PVC tubes very hard at anyone. At least not in Isaan. In Chiang Mai, Kao San road, and Patong I’ve heard differently and it’s a shame that foreigners take it to another level than what it’s intended as.

Nobody enjoys getting water sprayed into their eyes. Nobody enjoys piss in the water poured on them. Nobody enjoys dirty water dumped on them. Nobody enjoys being the subject of revenge because you get angry and want to make sure you show everyone that the person that got the best of you is going to pay for it. Mai Pen Rai. Just let it go and move on. Thai people will have more respect for foreigners and everyone will have more fun.

If you want to make it really fun – you have to let the kids get you good. Especially little kids. I like to go up to the little kids in the trucks and they think i’m going to throw a pail of water on them – but instead I give it TO them and let them pour it on my head. I then take a little powder and put it on their cheeks gently and wai them – they have the best time and don’t forget it for a long time. It’s much more fun than throwing water on the little kids…

We throw water from 8 am until 6 pm everyday for 3 days, rarely taking a break. My arm and shoulder are wrecked by day 3, but I just take some tylenol (paracetamol) and keep throwing it! By 6 pm we go have some warm soup – gwit diao or gwat jeab at a place with outdoor seating because we’re soaking wet and usually cold by this time. We head back to the hotel – getting re-soaked the whole way… and take a warm shower. Later, about 9:30pm we go out to eat again. Usually we can avoid the people throwing water – but sometimes – we get wet again. We eat and then back to hotel. Sleep early and wake up early for breakfast and day 2.

Repeat.
Repeat once more.

3 days is enough for me – perfect really. Chiang Mai seems to go for a WEEK of this craziness!

Ok, so that’s my take on Songkran… if you haven’t experienced it – you MUST do it at least once. Maybe it will be the most fun you have all year… it is for me!

Start buying your squirt guns and getting your PVC tube ready… it’s coming in April.

:)