Songkran in Chang-Mai/Koh Tao (again)

Trip Start Jan 06, 2007
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Trip End May 19, 2010


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Where I stayed
Five Stars Hostel

Flag of Thailand  ,
Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Songkran is a blend between Mardi-Gras and the Fourth of July with the excitement and preparation of Christmas with water on top. It is by far the most intensely celebrated festival I have ever experience and probably ever will. I couldn't walk down the street without a bucket being turned over my head and while overwhelming at times, the feeling of being part of something so huge made any doubts and frustrations just slip away.
Unfortunately there are few pictures of the water fights, the first day I took my camera with me I tripled wrapped and waterproofed it and water still got to it. After that I decided to only take it out at night.
My days began around 8 or 9am when it got to hot to sleep any more, the hostel was without a/c and I've never been more thankful for a cold shower. A few of us would head out for breakfast and by time we had eaten and heading back to the hostel to pick up our guns and buckets the party had already began. I was in a swimsuit for basically a week and wore the same stinky tank top and shorts to avoid having to do laundry.
The second day we stumbled onto an Ad Carabau concert, which is more or less like walking into a U2 concert in Ireland. For some reason nobody was dancing so after being prompted by a stage hand I willingly joined a Thai woman who had on a pair of colorful fish print shorts and a bucket on her head. A few of my friends joined in and then a few more locals did as well. It was absolutely amazing; his music is a bluesy/rock/Thai fusion. He's sold millions of records and heads a number of welfare programs and has his face on more than a few billboards sponsoring the most popular energy drinks in Thailand. I still don't understand why nobody was close to the stage, everyone just stood back and listened, which for the people like me who just want to dance; it was a nice change from the mosh pits of the states.
Chang-Mai eventually came to a damp end; a few friends and I made it to the train and sat around to dry off. It was a 12-hour ride and we decided to stay in Bangkok for a night before heading back to Hua-Hin. Josh and I then decided to meet up with our friends Lauren and Jonathan in Koh Tao. It was my second and Josh's first trip to the islands and by time I got home I was relieved to sleep in 'my own' bed and take a warm shower. I have a decent sunburn though and didn't really indulge in the hot shower for very long. The island was cloudy about half the time, but it was a nice change from the constant heat. We just hung around the beaches and bungalow by day and spent both evenings at a Rasta bar up the road. I was given the Thai name pronounced similar to "Noon" and played tic-tac-toe with one of the Rastas.
Overall it was a successful week. I am more than worn out and am ready for a few nights of solid sleep. I wish I could somehow capture the glory that is Songkran in Chang-Mai and put it in my pocket, but unfortunately I don't see that happening. It was wonderful to feel such a sense of belonging and community in a foreign land. It was honestly the first time I didn't feel like a tourist in Thailand, except for when I'd hear someone yell 'farang!' and feel a rush of water catapulting towards me. It was all in good fun and I could always return the shower.
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