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The Monthly Top 10

The Songkran that we know today may have the purists shaking their heads in dismay, but it has certainly evolved into one of the most unique and fun festivals in the world. Find out our top 10 tips for a happy Songkran here...

Where else in the world would people of all ages take to the streets armed with water guns to embark on a massive, fun-filled day of water-soaked revelry? With the amount of alcohol that is consumed, if Songkran happened in England, it would soon deteriorate into one big fight. In Thailand, it’s fun, fun and more fun.

It’s not hard to find Songkran, but some places are better than others. Khao San Road and Silom Road in Bangkok are popular places. Outside of Bangkok, people tend to gather at natural water sources or along busy streets. The back of a pick-up truck’s always a good bet - wherever you are.

Here are our tips for a Happy Songkran:

Number 10: The first thing to understand about Songkran is that you are going to get wet – very wet. Add this to the fact that Songkran takes place during the hottest part of the year – when temperatures can hover close to 40C – and the most sensible attire is t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops.

Number 9: In the midst of all that water madness, you need to protect your valuables. I’m not sure whether it’s as a result of Songkran, but Thai money is waterproof. Nevertheless, take a good plastic bag to keep your wallet, camera and phone dry (good for cigarettes too if you smoke).

Number 8: Considering all the talcum powder and water that ends up in your eyes, surprisingly few people have cottoned on to the wisdom of wearing swimming goggles. They make something of a fashion statement too for those who like to accessorise.

Number 7: Songkran is water war and everyone is a combatant. So just because you are unarmed or don’t plan on joining in the fun, it doesn’t mean you will be spared a soaking. The options are simple – stay at home or prepare for war and arm yourself with a water gun and a sense of fun.

Number 6: So just what is the weapon of choice for the modern-day Songkran warrior? Forget water pistols – even the kids don’t bother with these. There is a wide assortment of powerful two-handed water guns available, from pump-actions to automatics. The bigger it is, the better.

Number 5: Prepare for close quarter combat. Expect strangers to throw buckets of water at you and as the day wears on, an increasing number of people (primarily drunk Thai males) will appear armed with small plastic bowls containing a gooey mixture of water and talcum powder (at least I think it’s talcum powder), which they smear on people’s faces. Weird but harmless – go with the flow.

Number 4: Once you have your weapon, you need some ammunition. Wherever Songkran revellers gather, there’s usually a steady supply of water: a tap, a large drum or even a stream, irrigation canal or reservoir. Avoid using overly dirty or iced water – it’s just good manners.

Number 3: Now you are fully locked and loaded, it’s time to let fly. When you shoot, bear in mind these two rules of etiquette: don’t aim for the eyes, and don’t shoot at a group of people as they speed past on a motorcycle.

Number 2: Learn these four phrases:

  • kor tote (sorry / excuse me)
  • mai pen rai (don’t worry about it / it’s ok)
  • sanuk mai? – sanuk (are you having fun? – Yes, by golly)
  • suksan pee mai (Happy New Year).

Number 1: But the most important tip for a happy Songkran: “play nice and have fun!”

Follow these tips and you will have a happy Songkran.

Whether you are red or yellow: suksan pee mai.

Paul Snowdon – April 10, 2010

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