Sunday, 29 December 2013

Letters from Thailand, part six

Part one here.
Part two here.
Part three here.
Part four here.
Part five here.

Songkran in Chiang Mai

19 April 2013 at 03:04
When I booked this trip I had no idea that Thai new year fell into when I was going so this was a lovely surprise! Thai new year is called songkran and it is just one huge, ridiculous water fight. For days leading up to the weekend even in the remote villages, locals had been chucking buckets of water over us as we drove by, bearing in mind we were all sat in the back of a pickup truck and so got absolutely drenched. Once we were in Chiang Mai the festivities had really begun. Little stalls open up all along the canal selling water guns, little waterproof bags and buckets with strings attached so that you can chuck them in the canal to fill them up. Friday after getting our eyelashes done me and Georgie realised we really needed to defend ourselves and so bought two massive water guns. Down in the town square big stages had been set up with sponsors from cocacola and Asia Airways and there were huge speakers blasting out music. A lot of the people here were tourists and backpackers so the music was very western so it really felt like being in some crazy party. Not a drop of rain had fallen yet the streets were 2 inches deep in dirty water that everyone was jumping around in whilst spraying water. Everyone was dancing out in the middle of the road, you'd completely forget it was a road until suddenly a motorbike very slowly drives into you. Some people wear crazy masks or fancy dress and it is the one time in your life you can spray water directly in someones face and they're not allowed to get mad at you. Some of the Thai women come round and gently pour rose water over you, which is probably more traditional than spraying water out of an Angry Birds backpack water gun. It's also part of the tradition to spread this weird clay stuff over peoples faces but of course it all goes in your mouth and tasted really weird. I made the mistake of trying to take my camera and of course it got wet so I went into Mcdonalds to dry it off and the whole place was drenched, with soggy people shoving soggy chips in their mouths. We walked back to the hotel at around 5 when it started to feel a bit chilly and even walking back everyone chucks water all over you.

The next day a bigger group of us ventured out and Meaw told us about something going on near the shopping mall where there was like a concert so we piled in a tuktuk and set off. The traffic was crazy and everything throws water at you in the tuktuk. We had noticed the night before people driving round with huge blocks of ice in their trucks and sure enough on the Saturday everyone took it up a notch by using ice water. Once we got to the concert this seemed to be where the Thai people went more than the tourists and was absolutely packed. Once again there was crazy music and water everywhere. A few of us decided to walk back and got completely lost and so we just followed the canal round the city which meant we got to see how all the different people were celebrating, some were even swimming in the canal. We could feel the weather turning and the skies looked greyer than usual so it was a relief to finally find the hotel as not long after out of nowhere a massive storm arrived. It was like the sky was trying to compete with the people as huge, heavy drops of rain drummed down relentlessly. There was thunder and lightening and such strong wind. Seeing rain again felt peculiar. As quick as it started it was over and the sun appeared again and so we all went out again to the bars and clubs. The drinks here are insanely strong as they don't measure the quantities of alcohol and by the end of the night I was determined it would be hilarious to jump in the canal. Luckily my friends wouldn't let me but a flipflop was sacrificed in the process so I walked home in one flip and no flop.

Sunday we chilled by the pool and finally got a bit of a tan before getting another horrific night bus back down south. I prepared well this time and brought a blanket and jumper and arrived feeling fresh as a daisy, sort of.

That's all for Chiang Mai, but I would definitely go back again for Songkran. Now to write about the orphange, which of course completely contrasted with this mad weekend.


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