We didn’t know when we booked our trip to Phuket, that it would be the week of Songkran. Songkran, according to our host, is the Thai new year. It’s also the hottest month and Thais traditionally throw water at each other for fun, to cool down and for luck.
Unfortunately, it has not rained in Phuket and the rest of Thailand for four months. Water level is low and the government is urging people not to waste water. Also, following a terror alert we read in the Singapore newspapers to avoid tourist area Patong Beach, we thought we might miss seeing Songkran altogether.
The streets were mostly quiet this morning as we drove around. We spotted some children shooting water guns at motorists, but there were not much activities around our hotel, despite what our host said, that you could see activities along the road.
We decided to drive into little villages off the main road. There were indeed more people having fun. Mike had cautiously waterproofed his camera but he needn’t had bothered, for they were considerate towards foreigners. They posed, danced and threw water at each other rather than at us, and one lady approached our car to offer a cool paste for my face.
Songkran to some are not just random throw of water at people though. Many had come prepared in full uniformed attires, large amplifier blasting music, food colourings for water guns and ice to chill their large containers of water. A group were in gaudy flower garbs, others in colour coordinated tees. They danced to the music until they spot vulnerable motorcyclists, some who steered clear while others purposely went close for a good soak.
Other targets were open vans where the passengers engaged in good nature water fights atop their vehicles with those at the roadside, jamming up the roads, but the other vehicles were rather understanding.
It was good fun both for the participants and for us.