The wet season has arrived in Thailand....well, not really - its not Monsoon season yet... its Songkran. Songkran is a wet season in itself as its the water festival. Initially it was a religious festival - the Buddhist New Year. During the new year, novice monks are ordained, everything is cleaned, Buddhist statues are lustrated (yes, this is a word!), and people would bless each other with a sprinkling of jasmine infused holy water. Well times have changed. Don't get me wrong...monks are still ordained, lustrating buddhas are abbundant, its just that the sprinklings and the sprinklers have become a bit more serious. You still find the traditional silver bowls filled with holy water, but you also find people lurking around corners with buckets of ice-water or super-soakers. Songkram is now the largest water fight in the world - offically its 3 days of water-flights, and parades, and parties, but my first splashing occurred on Day -2 (pre-cleansing before Songkran??)
I have never seen so much water in my life. Everyone, gets into the act from the young Thai children to the elder Thai men and women. During Songkram everyone is considered an equal. It is said that if you were to meet the King of Thailand (and he was in ChiangMai for the festival), you could splash him. Well, I didn't see the king, but there was this policeman. He looked way too dry, soI walked up behind him, and innocently squired him on the shoulder. He turned around not looking happy, and then shot me.....with his super-soaker!
Without a doubt, on the practical side, Songkran is a refreshing solution to "beating the heat" in the hottest season of the year. During this week,the average temperature in ChiangMai has been 45 C (it ranged from 38 to 48). Even the evenings were hot as the temperature only went down to a cool 30 C. There is one interesting side-effect of Songkran - the rain. It always rains at the end of the festival. I have never seen a downpour like this in my life. Does Songkran start the monsoon or perhaps God just sees everyone else having fun with the sprinkling, and decides to join in herself!