Welcome back to Don’t Drink the Rice Wine, this week I will be going over a few stories of Songkran also known as the Thai New Year’s festival.
First for some background;
Songkran takes place on the 13th of April every year, this holiday is most well-known for its water festival where the young and old engage in water fights of epic proportions. Whole streets are closed to traffic and used for arena’s. During this festival parties are running day and night, so it is not unusual to spot people drunk very early on in the day. Some videos of Songkran in Chiang Mai are posted below.
As you can see from the videos above, it is truly a festival in which the whole city takes part.In the back of the numerous pick up trucks that crawl around the moat are large ice-buckets which the revelers on-board use to soak any people who wander too close.
Before I get to my stories about this festival and more specifically the 2 weeks of holiday I had at school every year during the week before and after this festival, I would like to talk about a bit of a darker aspect of this festival.
Due to the widespread drinking and water being thrown during the festival, there are a lot of traffic accidents during this period. Excerpt below;
“During the “seven dangerous days” of the Songkran festivities in 2016, from 11–17 April, 442 persons died and 3,656 were injured in road accidents, up 21.4 percent from 2015. The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) says a total of 110,909 people were arrested and 5,772 vehicles impounded at road safety checkpoints across the country between 9–16 April.”
Now for me and the students at my school, the Songkran break was always a period that was looked forward to, mostly for the parties that ran 24/7. My friends and I would rent a hotel room, and during the 2012 Songkran we actually had about 6+ people staying in the same room. The routine each day was quite simple, during the day we would drink and engage in the Songkran festivities and at night we would go out and party till the early morning.
Driving rented motorbikes we had a few accidents, I for example almost had a terrible crash when some party-goer decided to throw water on me while I was driving past, it hit my helmet and made viewing the road extremely difficult in addition to the roads being soaked in water.
One of my closer friends during this period of 2 weeks, spent most of it in a drunken stupor. Something I found out later when he couldn’t recall 3 days of the 2 weeks.
If you ever travel to Thailand, I hope you have the opportunity to experience this festival as words cannot do the experience justice.