The warnings about the dangers of the Songkran, the Buddhist New Year’s celebrations, were everywhere in Thailand. “Protect your valuables, cover your backpack, wear protective eyewear.”
While reading these warnings make it seem like you’re going to get robbed and punched in the face for a few days, what really happens during Songkran is that you get sprayed with water. Lots and lots of water.
For three days straight, you won’t be able to stay dry once you step a foot outdoors. One can try, but one will fail: there is no escaping the water guns, the huge buckets of water thrown into your face, the hosing you down from head to toe while you’re simply minding your business walking down the streets.
In the back of this Songthaew, (a very open and uncomfortable pick up truck that serve as taxi in Chiang Mai), we were riding with a Chinese family of 3 in Chiang Mai. Open pickup trucks are a favourite for this water splashing business: every stop at a red light (which happens way too often) meant an immediate bucket of cold water thrown directly into our faces. Sometimes more than once. In fact, always more than once!
This little girl got hit by the first bucket. Soaking wet, she began to cry. Why wouldn’t she cry? It was so out of her comprehension: in her mind she was probably wondering what she had done to deserve such a cruel punishment. Despite our best efforts to comfort her she just kept crying, dripping water from her face, eyes, hair. The second incoming of water hoses certainly didn’t do much to help.
But eventually something made her stop her crying. Something made her start to giggle, even! That something was me. Me, being hit in the face with two giant buckets of water followed by a hosing that almost made me blind for a few seconds. And from that moment on, the little girl simply embraced the wetness, giggling at every incoming attack.
The hardest part is getting wet in the first place. Once you accept that as a given fact, you shrug and accept it. Also, it’s fun seeing other people get wet, as this little girl so clearly demonstrated.