By Heather Allen
So many of my friends complain about Songkran, and I confess that
after a few years it does get tiresome this water throwing, the traffic, the
tourists. But, I choose to live in Chiang Mai and the Songkran Festival has
been mad long before my humble arrival in town. It would be a bit much to
then expect it to somehow change simply because I have had my fill of the
I learned some time ago that there really is no point in complaining about
things over which one has no power, such as the huge influx of tourists at
Songkran, or the uncanny ability of red truck drivers to disappear as soon
as I need one. So, this is not a Songkran complaint. I survived Songkran’s
past, I have survived this one but each year I assemble a survival kit.
Number one on the list is of course that wonderfully ingenious water proof
phone bag on a string. This way if I venture out after the time the water
throwing is supposed to stop but some tourist didn’t get the memo that after
dark there is NO WATER then my phone is not ruined.
Second to the Songkran survival kit is to hit the stores and stock up before
the holiday. This year I laid in a goodly supply of food, beer, spirits and
mixers. I sat on my rooftop and watched the mayhem below drinking gin and
tonics. One day a few friends braved the traffic and water to join me. In
the evening, we strolled out and found an open restaurant for dinner.
Finally, key to my Songkran survival kit is to make sure I have plenty of
movies and television series to watch in case the rooftop watching gets
boring. Or as is the case this year, just too hot. One day, I even donned my
swimming suit, an old shirt and shorts and ventured out into the mayhem to
squirt a few people and get my own back. It was actually rather fun once I
stopped feeling grumpy about it.
Now that Songkran has passed, the hordes of tourists are gone, the streets
are clear and the low season is upon us, we can all enjoy Chiang Mai without
millions of tourists getting in our way. Except the Chinese who seem to
delight in doing so.