The Glottal Stop

Thailand’s Songkran Festival. Or, How I lost my Thai Smile. (Part 2)

Posted in Travel by admin on June 20, 2010

All Day I Hear the Noise of Waters

We travelled from the station to the hotel in a roofed pick-up truck. The passengers sit alongside the back of the truck on two benches, running along either side is an open window and the only way in is through an opening at the back. For Thailand, the new year is a big thing, it’s a three day festival of water fights, processions, dancing, singing, and face painting; however, I was not prepared for just how seriously the water-fighting was taken. As I sat looking out of the taxi, admiring the surrounding cityscape, I noticed a convoy of pick-up trucks behind us. And in the back of each one was a large bucket of water with a block of ice for added effect. Around this tub sat a number of people with water pistols and receptacles for dispensing the icy cold water over those unfortunate enough to come within their sights and range. We stopped at a traffic light and a one of these pick-up trucks pulled up beside us. They began chucking water over us. My God it was good. There’s a quick scramble to waterproof valuables, i.e. money, passport, phone (but, this really can be avoided with a little prudence), but really, you enjoy the feeling. When it’s so hot, to be splashed with ice cold water is refreshing, you know that as soon as you step out the taxi your clothes will dry in the sun, and there’s a certain connection you feel with the locals in the fact that they have chosen to include you (though perhaps ‘sacrifice’ would be a better word) in their traditions. They soak you a few times and it’s funny. But then you realise the traffic lights still haven’t changed and the soaking you are getting begins to looses all its humour, fun, effect, or in fact, reason (why sprays someone who is already wet?) because of the repetitiveness of it. Eventually the taxi pulls away from the lights and it dawns on you that a precedent has been set.

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