Thursday, 17 April 2014

Songkran 2014

After an amazing time in Laos I once again found myself back in Ayutthaya at Soi Farang and paid up seven nights at the "Toto Guesthouse" I was very exited as the Songkran Festival would be starting the next day and I'd heard great things about the Thai new year celebrations. I'd been asked a couple weeks earlier in Coffee Bar if I would MC for one of the stages that would be set up in the street. I was a little drunk and without thinking immediately said yes, later I was a little nervous as I knew there would thousands of people there but I knew I could do it so long as I had some dutch courage. The evening before Songkran, Fai and I went to meet the guy who had asked me, it seemed that he thought I knew more Thai than I actually did and that he wanted me to MC in Thai, whooops! He didn't really speak English so Fai translated and it was decided that I would MC in English, to a lot of people, most of whom would not be able to understand a single word I was saying. I was slightly less nervous then as if I messed it up they wouldn't even know.

So the Songkran day had come, I woke up got my waterproof bag at the ready and headed out to see what it was all about, before I even got downstairs I was attacked and soaked by a kid with his water gun, and thus it started! For those that don't know the Songkran festival sees the whole of Thailand turn into a MASSIVE water fight, actually incomprehensible to anyone who has never experienced it. I spent my time during the day soaking as many people as possible using any number of the large drums of water with buckets, guns and hoses dotted around everywhere. Another tradition is to apply a white clay type powder to peoples faces for which many people walking past would to do to me while I do it to them, I was drenched from head to toe constantly and my face physically hurt from smiling and laughing so much. In the evening I turned up to the huge outdoor stage where I was to MC, and this part didn't turn out quite as expected. The people really had no idea what I was saying at all so I didn't end up doing that much MC'in, instead I was dancing on the stage getting the crowd pumped and just took to the mic occasionally to say a few words in Thai and that went down a treat. As I wasn't getting paid for it (was offered free drinks) I was not strictly tied down to anything and could come and go as I pleased so it was a perfect set up really.

On the second day of the three day celebrations an old face from the past popped up on Facebook saying he was in Bangkok, I had worked with Ben 10 years ago at a DIY shop "Hayling Hardware" and hadn't seen him since, he asked what I was up to and I told him to come up to Ayutthaya to celebrate Songkran, when he arrived we hit the streets much like I did the previous day and we carried on the madness. We spent a good hour or two in one spot dancing in the street operating a couple of high pressure hoses spraying the cars and the people that went past, this was all in between us splashing around in a paddling pool with some of the local kids; two of them were child monks which was kinda cool. We then moved on to find street parties and different stages set up everywhere, we even jumped up onto random peoples pick up trucks to play Songkran with them. In the evening we headed to a different area to find a huge foam party where even a fire engine was getting involved in the water fights, we stayed here for a while and headed back to my stage where I did my thing for a little while and then we headed off again just drunkenly walking around stopping at the various parties, one of which we got dropped into a large drum of water and just carried on dancing, it truly was crazy and tremendously enjoyable. On the third and final day we both woke up extremely hungover but finally got up to go out and do it all again.

My first Songkran in Thailand was incredible, it was some of the three best consecutive days in my life where I was able to act like a 10 year old  not worry about a single thing. One of the best things about it was that the crowd in their thousands was almost entirely populated by local people, I think we saw at most a dozen other farang the whole time so we were celebrating it true Thai style. The reason there were no tourists in Ayutthaya is because they would have all have been in Chiang Mai as this is promoted as the best place to celebrate, It would have been nice to see how it's done in Chiang Mai, but my thing is to celebrate with the locals so I know exactly where ill be celebrating it again next year!

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