The Surprising Splash of Songkran

Songkran in Bangkok, Thailand

“Holy Crap! That’s an elephant!”

Setting down my cutlery and contorting my body around Tony’s to gaze out onto Nong Khai’s main street, I confirmed that his assessment of the situation was indeed correct. There, amidst the trundling tuk tuks and zippy motorbikes, a mid-sized pachyderm plodded down the street while roadside vendors and diners alike stopped and stared. Its mahout (handler) strode alongside it, soliciting donations from the crowd of bystanders, comprised equally of agog and nonplussed locals.

As a testament to just how long we have been in Asia, both of us watched the beautiful creature amble through traffic for a good 10 or 15 seconds before I remarked that we should probably take a picture or two. Asia or not, urban elephants aren’t exactly a run-of-the-mill occurrence, and even though for us this wasn’t exactly new, I recognized that for most people, this would be a pretty exciting moment. After snapping a few photos and lamenting how scared and stressed the little elephant must be due to all the traffic around it, we each had a bit of a laugh at how, for those first few moments, this elephant sighting actually had not seemed all that bizarre or notable.

I share this story with you to give you a sense of how much we have adapted to life in Asia, how our new normal is, many times, anything but. I want to tell you that for the past 21 months I have woken up and gazed on the world with wonderment, dazzled by the exotic mysteries that each day brings my way, but the truth is that sometimes Tony & I get a bit blasé about how extraordinary our life currently is. I mean, when an elephant walking through a night market not 10 meters from my dinner plate is treated like just another night in Thailand, it’s hard to imagine what might shake us out of our complacency and truly startle or surprise us.

Songkran in Bangkok, Thailand

I suppose that if there is any downside to our frequent visits to Thailand, it is this: that we now feel so comfortable there that we take a lot of what used to astound us as the status quo. As perpetual wanderers, there is always some element of relief that suffuses us when we return to a place we have already been, a little patch of the familiar in the terrain of the foreign. For us, Bangkok in particular (and Thailand in general) is one of those places that certainly feels more familiar than not. I wouldn’t go so far as to say we know all of its secrets, because we have only explored a smidgen of what it has to offer, but every time we return to Bangkok I’m excited to be back in a city that I love, happy to get the chance to explore a little bit more of it, and largely confident that I know what (and just how much chaos) to expect.

But, prior to our most recent visit, we had never visited Bangkok during Songkran, the Thai New Year. Just when I thought I had the city nailed down, all it took was a national celebration to show me just how much there is to learn about Bangkok, Thailand, and even about myself.

Songkran in Bangkok, Thailand

The Thais follow a different calendar than we do, and their new year falls smack dab in the middle of April. Traditionally, Songkran is a time of purification, with families marking the occasion by washing Buddha statues and altars in a symbolic gesture of washing away the previous year’s bad luck. People are also often the recipients of this cleansing so that they can face the new year fresh and with luck on their side. With time, however, this act has evolved into a nationwide water fight and has become an event that most long-term travelers in Asia yearn to witness and participate in.

Songkran in Bangkok, Thailand

But not us. Whereas many people go out of their way to experience Songkran, we stumbled into it quite accidentally and probably would have gone out of our way to avoid it if we could have. Grumps that we sometimes are, Songkran seemed like just another national annoyance that would make travel difficult (or downright dangerous—each year, hundreds of people are injured or killed due to rowdy carelessness and, tragically, drunk driving during Songkran). Undoubtedly restaurants and shops would close, hotel prices would soar, and we just didn’t relish the idea of being doused with water whenever we wanted to explore our surroundings or forage for food. When we realized that being in Thailand for this holiday was inescapable, we decided to spend it in Bangkok, where we hoped that the festivities would be a tad less disruptive. Some cities, like Chiang Mai, celebrate Songkran for a full week; in contrast, Bangkok only observes the holiday for three days.

Songkran in Bangkok, Thailand

Just try walking down the street. We dare you.

We went into Songkran resigned and expecting the worst, only to have it completely surprise us. Not only did it turn out to be exceedingly fun, but it actually revealed a side of Thailand to us that we had never before observed. One thing that we’ve noticed during our travels is that although Thai people are unfailingly polite to foreigners, in many places they are so used to travelers that it can be difficult to move beyond a superficial friendliness with the locals. Everyone is nice and helpful, but rarely do they initiate contact or express any real curiosity about us. We’ve never had a Thai person strike up a conversation with us (unless you count the scammers outside the grand palace), and unlike in neighboring countries, even when traveling through the less visited areas, Thai kids have never chased us down the street wildly waving at us while bellowing hello at the top of their lungs. Thais know that foreigners fuel their economy and that it makes good sense for them to make sure we feel welcome and happy, but we’ve always secretly felt that they’re happiest being left to their own devices. One traveler we recently met astutely compared the Thais to the Japanese, in that they will always be unimpeachably cordial to you, but there is a real barrier to overcome if you want to reach the inner sanctum of true friendship.

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During Songkran, all the barriers came crashing down and I think it was this, more so even than the many buckets of water that we had tossed on us, that made the celebration so refreshing. For the first time ever, locals were approaching us, eyes alight with excitement and happiness painted broadly across their faces as they called out Sawasdee Pee Mai (Happy New Year) and then proceeded to smear talcum powder paste across our cheeks and foreheads and then soak us with a hose or a pour a bucket of water down the backs of our shirts. There was such a hum of happiness in the air, and you could tell that as much fun as the Thais were having drenching one another, their glee soared to new heights when they got to pounce upon a foreigner. One guy who drenched us outside of our hotel, followed up by offering us a glass of whiskey so that we could drink to the new year together. He was a little tipsy to be sure, but for the most part, people in Bangkok seemed to be drunk on happiness for the three days of Songkran.

Songkran in Bangkok, Thailand
Songkran in Bangkok, Thailand

Shrieks of laughter and pure euphoria echoed down the streets as the normally reserved Thais cut well and truly loose. The entire city was transformed, and I wondered if the restaurant, hotel and transport staff hated their lives while people walked around the city smeared with paste and dripping wet. But when we returned to our hotel on the first day, utterly bedraggled, the only response we received at reception was muffled giggles as they took in our sorry appearance as we trudged off to our room. To my eternal surprise, shoppers would enter malls and commuters would jump onto the metro toting mini super soakers, sopping wet, and no one batted an eye. A reminder of my western sensibilities, I kept thinking about how his kind of chaos would NEVER fly back home; even security guards took to dancing in the streets, music blaring, water whipping about wildly. It was a real sight to behold and exhilarating to be a part of.

Songkran, Bangkok, Thailand Songkran in Bangkok, Thailand

Despite our doubts, it was actually amazingly fun to channel our inner 10-year-olds and run amok with a water gun in hand. Given Thailand’s blistering temperatures, the spritzes and spraying (and sometimes outright buckets of water), were actually a keen relief from the heat. In the days following Songkran, we found ourselves a bit disappointed that it was no longer appropriate to walk about completely drenched. True story: On the first day of Songkran, I was feeling grouchy and cross because all of the places I wanted to eat were closed (story of our life when we’re in Bangkok, actually…) and it was impossibly hot out. And then we turned a corner and I got slammed with a bucketful of cold water. Normally this would be the icing on a horrible cake (Does such a cake exist? Fruit cake? Black forest cake?), but instead, I immediately felt better. In fact, I actually began to laugh! Hopefully Tony doesn’t take this to mean that from now on whenever I start to get snippy that he should take to spraying me with a squirt bottle as one does when trying to train cats…

Songkran in Bangkok, Thailand

For the most part I felt that the emotions behind Songkran were benevolent, respectful, and all in good fun. Unfortunately, not everyone is pure of heart and approaches these things with the right spirit—I initially believed that one could be a “conscientious objector” to Songkran, and that if you made it clear that you did not wish to participate, that the locals would respect that. However, although I think many people were happiest when tourists were clearly into the experience and willing to engage, we certainly encountered people who seemed to take extra glee in targeting people who might rather have been bypassed. Although it’s excessively dangerous, we saw more than a few motorcyclists get absolutely pummeled with buckets of water to the face as they rode by, and certain people definitely got the most satisfaction in pursuing targets who tried to hide or avoid them. I want to say that if you were dressed up or obviously had an expensive camera or electronics on your person that people would respect your space, but I’m not sure that’s true. On some level, if you’re out on the street, you’re fair game.

Songkran in Bangkok, Thailand

Which is why, when we decided to actively enter the fray on days two and three (now armed with our own water gun!), we did so with our camera safely ensconced in the underwater housing we normally use when diving and our cellphone & money placed in a waterproof neck pouch that vendors on every corner were selling for 20B (~60¢); everything else was left safe and dry in our hotel room. We made our way down to Silom road, which had pretty much been completely closed off to all but foot traffic. What we found was the wettest, wildest street party we’ve ever experienced.

Songkran in Bangkok, Thailand

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Songkran, Bangkok, Thailand

Songkran, Bangkok, Thailand Songkran, Bangkok, Thailand

Songkran, Bangkok, Thailand
Songkran, Bangkok, Thailand

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Songkran, Bangkok, Thailand

Songkran, Bangkok, Thailand
Songkran, Bangkok, Thailand

Songkran, Bangkok, Thailand

It was utter insanity. It was also so much fun. Everywhere you looked, people were smiling and having the times of their lives.

Songkran, Bangkok, Thailand
Songkran, Bangkok, Thailand

(With the exception of this one little kid, who shot Tony with his water gun and when Tony retaliated, shrieked with such indignation and outrage he may has well have been trying to summon the ghosts of his ancestors to his defense. He then focused a death glare to end all death glares on Tony and sprayed water at him unrelentingly, despite his mother’s best efforts to get him to lighten up or focus on someone else. He was pissed and I think his mom had better keep an eye on him in the years to come…)

Songkran, Bangkok, Thailand

Songkran, Bangkok, Thailand
Songkran, Bangkok, Thailand

This wasn’t officially our celebration, and yet we never felt like we were merely being tolerated; anyone taking part was an honorary Thai. I’m not sure that Tony has ever been groped so much as he was during our time on Silom that day, as the Thais seemed to delight in having an excuse to touch someone who was so tall and so white. In our own way, we reveled in having such candid, unreserved access to the locals. We had intended to observe the proceedings from the relative safety of the skytrain overpass that runs above the road, but there’s no doubt that we had way more fun in the midst of the madness. For someone who hates teeming crowds as much as I do, that says a lot, and it was a good lesson that I should continue to push myself to try new things—even when I suspect I might hate them—because I’ll never know for sure unless I give them a shot.

Songkran, Bangkok, Thailand

In the past two years, I think we have celebrated the new year approximately six times, and without a doubt, Songkran was the best of the bunch. The final day of festivities also happened to fall on the seventh anniversary of our first date. As a couple, we’ve engaged in many battles over the years, but this one we faced as a team, and was certainly the most fun. Pushing ourselves out of the crowd at Silom, gasping for breath amidst our laughter and the icy rivulets that rained down on us, we took a moment to acknowledge just how far we had come, from those first uncertain cups of coffee (only to find that neither of us even likes coffee!) to having survived a great water fight in the middle of Bangkok. Seven years ago, it was impossible to envision where our lives would take us, separately or together, but I’m confident neither of us ever anticipated we would find ourselves here. I’ve often said that things somehow have a way of working out exactly as they should, often better than you ever dreamed and this was certainly proof of that. Even though four days prior, we both would have done anything we could have in order to avoid Songkran, it turned out to be not just one of our best travel memories to date, but a fabulous way to celebrate our anniversary as well, certainly better than any fancy dinner enjoyed in years past. Life on the road and life together certainly keeps us on our toes, but our time celebrating Songkran was a great reminder to never be complacent about what we have built together. It isn’t always elephants or water wars, but it’s always when we least expect it that we have the greatest potential to be surprised.

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About Stephenie Harrison

In another life, I moved from Toronto, Canada to Nashville, TN to pursue my doctoral degree in Psychology. That chapter of my life is now finished, but I did earn the right to demand you call me Dr. Steph (though I respond just as well to plain old Steph). I am an avid reader whose book collection is rivaled only by my many pairs of cute shoes. I also like to knit, hold impromptu karaoke parties, and try new and unusual foods. Generally not all at the same time. I also really love to learn languages, which may explain why I took 3 years of Latin in highschool. I'm turning over a new leaf, so instead of looking forward, I'm going to work on enjoying the present, so the country I'm most looking forward to is whichever one we're in right now!

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36 Responses to “The Surprising Splash of Songkran”

  1. Gillian May 9, 2014 at 1:47 am # Reply

    I, too, was dubious of Songkran and ended up loving it, thinking it to be the worlds greatest water fight! I can’t imagine what this would degrade to in N.America but I never saw any salacious activity, no scantily clad women (other than tourists), no out of control drinking, and no fighting. Just good old fashioned fun being had no matter where we turned. My favourites were the small sois where families set up their water stations and ever so respectfully splashed those coming by. I’m glad you found it to be fun too!
    Gillian recently posted..Eating Well in the East End of London

    • Stephenie Harrison May 14, 2014 at 7:06 am # Reply

      I know that Songkran could never fly back home–someone would find some horrifying way to ruin it, I just know it–so I’m really glad we were able to experience it untainted in Thailand. As I said, for the most part it really did seem to be all in good fun and there were smiles everywhere we looked (save for that one pouting little monster!). It was really fun getting to watch the families and see how people celebrated even away from the main drag. Glad you’ve experienced the exhilarating thrill of Songkran too… I want to celebrate every year now!

  2. Corinne May 9, 2014 at 3:05 am # Reply

    Steph, It sounds like a blast…but yeah, that and Holi, and a few other messy festivals. I’d love to go, but I’ve got figure out a good camera covering. I agree, it’s a much better way to celebrate your anniversary….experience!

    • Stephenie Harrison May 14, 2014 at 7:07 am # Reply

      I had always said that Holi was something I would never be interested in doing, but clearly I need to rethink that. At least we know that we’ve got camera protection covered!

  3. Karyn @ Not Done Travelling May 9, 2014 at 8:00 am # Reply

    Ahhh, Songkran. I remember we used to have to go out and run all our errands in the morning, as it was too dangerous to even be out riding our motorbikes after about 1pm. And those flippin’ utes with the kids in the back with huge tubs of water, lol. I remember the Thais used to adore the prospect of splashing a falang, but I found that the objection rate was about 50-50 – they would either get offended if you begged no, or they would be respectful and not splash you.

    Because we had so many kids in our orphanage it was impossible to take them off the property to the street waterfights, so we just ran around the orphanage yard every afternoon with super soakers. But I remember that by the last day of my first Songkran (it’s a week long in Chiang Rai too), I was over it – while everyone else was outside screaming and getting wet, I was in my office grumpily typing away because I had work to do, and because our multi-nation aid organisation didn’t stop ticking just because it was Thai New Year. (Thailand might be having a waterfight but people in Mozambique are still starving! Don’t you know that Thailand???? God! :p)

    With so many years of hindsight on me, if I could go back to that first Songkran I would turn off the damn computer and run around splashing everybody in sight, then go do my essential work at night, lol. So I actually can’t wait to be back in Thailand during Songkran again so I can really enjoy it properly without my stick-in-the-mud attitude getting in the way. And those photos are incredible – the ones from the high angle in particular, where you see the size of the crowd. What a beautiful moment. :D Great post guys.
    Karyn @ Not Done Travelling recently posted..Has Tourism Ruined Tanah Lot?

    • Stephenie Harrison May 14, 2014 at 7:10 am # Reply

      You know, as much fun as we had with Songkran, by the end of the third day, we both felt that was a satisfying amount of water fun and that one week would probably feel a bit too long. I mean, in Bangkok if you REALLY wanted to, there would be areas/ways where you could avoid getting splashed, but it would get old figuring out how to dodge the chaos for longer than 3 days. It sounds like there’s no real way to do this in Chiang Mai, and while I agree that it’s probably better in such cases to just surrender, I wouldn’t blame you for being over it on Day 7!

  4. Franca May 9, 2014 at 1:21 pm # Reply

    I cannot think of a better and more original way to celebrate your first date anniversary. It sounds like you really had a great time and enjoyed yourselves a lot. We never got to enjoy Songkran at the same level because last year we were in the Thai jungle volunteering, we did take part to some local water fights with the other volunteers and the people from the village close by, but nothing compared to your experience.
    Franca recently posted..The 7 Things We DON’T Miss From Asia

    • Stephenie Harrison May 14, 2014 at 7:14 am # Reply

      It’s funny to think that we purposefully went to Bangkok because we thought it would be one of the tamer places to experience the holiday… compared to the Thai jungle, it was definitely a bit more intense!

  5. Afton May 9, 2014 at 1:26 pm # Reply

    Haha! That’s awesome! Good thing you were wearing black!

    • Stephenie Harrison May 14, 2014 at 7:14 am # Reply

      I can’t even imagine if I had been wearing white. Total nightmare!

  6. Calli May 9, 2014 at 2:10 pm # Reply

    Wow, great pictures – it looks like you had a great time! I’d love to say I’d try to align our travel plans with Songkran but we also tend to avoid large festivals and events for the same reasons you mentioned – prices skyrocket, it’s tough to get around, etc… Sometimes it’s best when you simply can’t get out of the way and are forced to embrace an event like this that you’d normally try to avoid. There’s definitely something to be said for just jumping in with both feet like you did. At first I was horrified for your camera – the waterproof casing has now eased my mind. I definitely need to get one of those if we plan on visiting an event like this :)
    Calli recently posted..Reflecting on the A to Z Challenge – Lessons Learned

    • Stephenie Harrison May 14, 2014 at 7:15 am # Reply

      We have ruined enough cameras on this trip that even though Tony assured me that the OMD could take anything Songkran threw at it, I figured better safe than sorry. Plus, it makes it a little easier to justify carrying our rather bulky & heavy UW housing with us even when we’re not diving! :D Given the pictures we got (and without any tears or stress), I’m glad we made the choice we did!

  7. Tim | UrbanDuniya May 10, 2014 at 1:17 am # Reply

    Despite the inherent dangers of it, that does look like a lot of fun for those who are prepared. It reminds me a lot of the Holi festival in India! (Only without the colours, of course)

    • Stephenie Harrison May 14, 2014 at 7:17 am # Reply

      It really was a lot of fun, and from what we personally witnessed, 99.9% of it was done in the correct spirit. I had never thought of the comparison with Holi before this, but once we started to get smeared with paste, I definitely saw the resemblance. Perhaps we’ll have to check that holiday out next!

  8. Emily May 10, 2014 at 5:59 pm # Reply

    I love the start of your post talking about being unfazed by the elephant in the street. I feel we have sort of gotten into the zen of travel where constant change has become our new normal. It’s only when someone reminds us from back home that we are having these amazing life experiences!

    I had no idea about what they did for Songkran and it looks intense but if you are vouching for it then I won’t turn up my nose if I find myself there for the celebration in years to come! Happy anniversary you two!
    Emily recently posted..Pretty City with Lots of Kitties

    • Stephenie Harrison May 14, 2014 at 7:18 am # Reply

      It’s the human way to adapt to your surroundings, no matter how bizarre and surreal they once were… long-term travel is no different. Do it long enough and eventually you’ll hit a point where even a big ol’ elephant only elicits a shoulder shrug. BUT that’s the kind of mindset we want to avoid as much as we can and thankfully Songkran gave us the wake-up call we needed! And so refreshing, too! ;)

  9. Rachel of Hippie in Heels May 10, 2014 at 7:08 pm # Reply

    So fun! We take water guns into the villages and play with the kids in Goa too! Not for holiday but just to help in the heat.
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted..Easy Guide to Jaipur’s Pink City

    • Stephenie Harrison May 14, 2014 at 7:18 am # Reply

      Ha! Love that you do an unofficial Songkran in Goa… I’m sure the kids love it!

  10. Victoria May 10, 2014 at 7:55 pm # Reply

    I love! Love!! Your photographs Stephenie. They are amazing! I especially like the indepth faces and photos of the crowd from various distances. Very clever!
    Oh, and congratulations on your anniversary. :)
    Victoria recently posted..Death and Destruction in Berlin: How to get a piece of Shakespeare in King Lear.

    • Stephenie Harrison May 14, 2014 at 7:20 am # Reply

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Victoria! Though I wish I could take full credit for all the shots, Tony & I traded off the camera and the watergun throughout Songkran, so he needs to take some of the credit too!

  11. Amanda @ Farsickness May 11, 2014 at 10:43 am # Reply

    I kind of stumbled upon Songkran in southern Thailand last year and it ended up being one of the highlights of my time in Asia. So. Much. Fun.

    You all got such lovely photos! I was too scared to take out anything valuable since I don’t have underwater housing.
    Amanda @ Farsickness recently posted..Berlin Bites: Where to Eat in the German Capital

    • Stephenie Harrison May 14, 2014 at 7:22 am # Reply

      In some ways, I think maybe the accidental approach to Songkran is the best because then you have no idea what to expect and no expectations for things to live up to. It seems that no matter where you are in the country, Songkran is a blast!

      Our underwater housing was definitely an investment, but given how much we’ve used it while diving and now at Songkran, I can’t help but thing it’s been one of the best bits of gear we’ve purchased on our trip! I would never have risked a camera at Songkran otherwise.

  12. Amy May 12, 2014 at 1:58 am # Reply

    Songkran had been on our list of festivals to experience for a long time so we had high hopes for this year’s festival in Chiang Mai and it actually exceeded our expectations, we loved every minute of it! However, like you guys, we also witnessed some more aggressive water-throwing from a few people and were particularly alarmed to see motorcyclists being targeted – it’s no wonder there are so many accidents. In Chiang Mai nowhere in the city was safe so it was complete mayhem; we also found the kids in particular were keen to get us. You’re right, it really seems like Songkran breaks down the barriers between tourists and locals, it was a great end to our time in Thailand. I love your pics by the way, you both look so happy in the top pic, that’s definitely one to look back on and smile at in the future :)
    Amy recently posted..After the Storm – Volunteering in the Philippines

    • Stephenie Harrison May 14, 2014 at 7:26 am # Reply

      I’ve heard that during Songkran people in Chiang Mai sometimes toss water from the moat at each other, which I would definitely not want to experience. It’s really a shame that something so fun and good-natured still has a few people who are not really embracing the spirit of it all and seem bent on hurting others and acting irresponsibly. We didn’t see a ton of that going on in Bangkok, but certainly a few instances and obviously we did not patrol the entire city. I think it would be cool to be in the place that seems to celebrate Songkran to the max as Chiang Mai does, that’s for sure. Bangkok was a good venue for us to experience our first Songkran, I think, but I wouldn’t be averse to trying it up in CM one day!

  13. jenn aka the picky girl May 12, 2014 at 10:22 am # Reply

    These photos are just awesome! Especially the ones from the high angle and the one of that pouty little guy…too cute! What an experience. I’m so glad you guys really got to enjoy it and mix into the fray.
    jenn aka the picky girl recently posted..An Afternoon in My Town, or, Why We Don’t Suck

    • Stephenie Harrison May 14, 2014 at 7:29 am # Reply

      Thanks, Jenn! It was such a blast and we’re both so happy with the photos we were able to snap to commemorate it all. I have no idea when we’ll be able to return for another go around, but I’m confident this was way too fun to be our last Songkran!

  14. Rob May 12, 2014 at 12:36 pm # Reply

    Ha! I’m glad we are not the only OAPs of travel :-)

    This does look amazing fun though! I can’t believe how many people seemed to be crammed into the streets. New Year is usually so lame, I think we may have to experience this at some point!
    Rob recently posted..A Feast in Oaxaca – Mexican cooking course

    • Stephenie Harrison May 14, 2014 at 7:30 am # Reply

      Dude, there were so many people on Silom Road, it was mind-blowing. Our photos capture the scale, but rest assured, the streets went on farther than we could capture with our widest lens. Absolutely bananas, but so, so fun!

  15. Ali May 14, 2014 at 10:26 am # Reply

    I hate crowds, and something where people are throwing water on me sounds awful! But you also make it sound really fun, and it’s awesome that the locals opened up and relaxed around you more than they normally do. I’m still not sure I’d ever intentionally go to Thailand during Songkran, but I’m glad you had a great time. And happy anniversary!
    (Also, I don’t know how much your hair has grown out since the hair cut incident you wrote about awhile back, but you look so cute in these photos!)
    Ali recently posted..Packing Made Simple: A Simple Guide to Packing Light e-book

    • Stephenie Harrison May 16, 2014 at 10:58 pm # Reply

      I similarly hate crowds and thought this sounded awful, but I guess this is one of those things that you just have to be there to really get. The fact that it was SO HOT AND MISERABLE in Thailand certainly made the cold water a lot more appealing… I don’t think you can appreciate that unless you’re currently sweating your face off!

      (Also, thanks for the compliment about my hair. It honestly hasn’t grown too much since I got it cut, though it’s been about 2 months, so I suppose it has grown some!)

  16. The Guy May 15, 2014 at 7:47 am # Reply

    I’ve heard about this festival many times and it does look crazy. For it to go on for days is also very intense.

    I agree that you have to be in the mood to take part. I’d be very worried otherwise if I was smartly dressed and had somewhere important to go. Also without underwater casing I’d be very worried about my camera.

    Those pictures of the people on the street are just crazy, so many of them!

    As for elephants on the street, I’ve seen that before. I particularly remember coming out of a nightclub in Bangkok and there being an elephant there as a big attraction. (For drunks and non-drunks.)
    The Guy recently posted..KLM Crown Lounge Schipol Airport Review

    • Stephenie Harrison May 16, 2014 at 11:22 pm # Reply

      In the end, I think 3 days was exactly the right amount of time for this festival—1 day would have been too short, but I think a week would have been way too much. I want to say that if you were really dressed up and clearly headed to a meeting or something that you would avoid getting splashed, but maybe that is just wishful thinking. All I know is that I’m really glad that we had a waterproof housing for our camera!

  17. Lauren May 18, 2014 at 5:29 pm # Reply

    This looks like a LOT of fun. Normally, I would be totally skeptical of attending something like that, and prefer to avoid places that are going to be crazy busy with that type of celebration. But…I think I would love it, too! I think it would be a great way to partake in an event with the locals! I also would feel like a kid again playing with super soakers :) I’m glad you took the underwater housing for your camera, haha!
    Lauren recently posted..Liebster Award Nomination

    • Stephenie Harrison May 19, 2014 at 2:03 am # Reply

      This is pretty much the only celebration of its kind that we have experienced on this trip and actually enjoyed, so I would suggest that even the skeptics out there give it a shot. Bangkok is a great place to do so because even if you for some reason hated it, it’s only 3 days and then it’s back to business as usual.

  18. Carmel May 21, 2014 at 9:21 am # Reply

    Those photos are amazing. I was wondering how you kept your camera safe. Thanks for answering that!

    I think I would be hesitant to be there during a New Year as we haven’t had the best luck on that front, but it does look like a lot of fun….
    Carmel recently posted..AND SO, THE TIME HAS COME

    • Stephenie Harrison May 24, 2014 at 3:30 am # Reply

      We were totally hesitant too since Asian national holidays have generally been awful to us travel-wise, but this was absolutely different. Especially in Bangkok where the celebrations are a lot tamer than somewhere like Chiang Mai and there was still plenty of accommodation, I’d say Songkran was not really disruptive at all. There were a few restaurants that were closed and that was annoying, but it was not nearly as bad as I had expected.