Thursday, June 30, 2011

Songkran 2

Oh man. I’ve really let this blog collect some dust. I wanna get you all up to speed on my life and Thai life in general but it’s gonna take a little time. I should start with a recount of the World’s Greatest Holiday: Songkran. I traveled to Chiang Mai just as I did last time around and ended up staying in the same radical guesthouse. This was the guesthouse that organized the group trips and activities throughout the 3-day holiday. I was bummed when I got there early morning on the 13th and found out I had missed the excursion into the quiet near-by village for some stories and authentic Thai desserts. I quickly got over that as I stashed my things in the room and went out into the city to find Ryan who had gone up a day earlier and was staying somewhere within the walled city. (Side note: the traffic flows pretty freely during Songkran except for the streets surrounding the wall where it’s a standstill. To cross this war zone into the old town requires incredible bravery. There’s no bigger bulls-eye than a solitary farang sitting in a convertible tuk-tuk that’s inching its way down a crowded street.) Our group was considerably smaller than last time. It was Ryan, a couple cool folks he had met traveling, and me. We also kept running into these two Dutch guys everywhere which was always fun. The three days were great. Day one was spent preparing for battle and trying to connect with the others. Cell phones are the first tragedy of water war so there was a lot of running and retreating to dry areas to try to answer a call before a hang up. We eventually got together and made the most of it. We were able to safely maneuver our way back to Ryan’s hotel which became our base of operations. There was a Thai tourism agency open across the way and they were delighted to host four wet farangs as they themselves were big fans of the Songkran festivities. Days two and three are pretty similar. Not a whole lot of riding in trucks this year although we did make it down to the main gate where all the concerts and events were going on. Once we got there we would set up at a good water station (hose, 50 gal. drum, large ice block) and proceed to soak all comers until it was time to move on to the next one. You never know what else is out there!

What was nice about Songkran this year was that after the holiday I still had 4 more days off. We decided to spend an extra day up in Chiang Mai and see some of the sights. We took a trip Wat Doy Suthep (I think that’s the name) which is a large temple on the top of a mountain with a beautiful view of the city. We spent a good portion of our afternoon there just walking around and taking pictures. Then we made our way to the Chiang Mai zoo. There was a lot to see there but we made sure we got to see the main attraction, Lin-Ping the panda. This panda cub was all the rage when it was born even getting it's own 24 hour panda channel (basically a live feed of the panda pen). By the time we left the zoo, it was just about time to get down to the bus station and head back to BKK. What really surprised me, as we went back to town, was how suddenly the Songkran holiday had ended. I expected some residual water fighting or at least a clue or two as to the bedlam of the days before but there was nothing. Not a soul was standing on the corner of the moat where hundreds had taken place in a water melee just 24 hours prior. Weird.

That’s just about all to report on this Songkran. We made it back to Bangkok just fine and had plenty of time to readjust to normal, dry life. Sorry for the major gap between posts. I really wanna get this post up so I can get to what’s going on in Thailand right now: Elections! It’s time for the special elections that were promised after the disastrous protests in April/May ’10. Election day is on Sunday and I’m sure no matter what happens, there’s gonna be somebody who is upset with the outcome. Stay tuned!

Much love