Posts Tagged With: party

SONGKRAN.

In case you’re unfamiliar with THE BEST HOLIDAY EVER, let me fill you in.  Every April, Thailand basically shuts down for three days (in some less urban areas, it’s only celebrated for one day, but the cities go hard for three whole days.)  This beautiful holiday, Songkran, celebrates the Thai new year.  Coincidentally, this occurs in mid-April during the height of the hot season. This is key because the holiday is essentially the world’s biggest water fight.  When temperatures are soaring right around 100 for days on end, and when your apartment lacks a/c, any way to cool off is a welcome change.  Especially one that involves water guns.

I’m lucky that my four months here in Chiang Mai coincided with Songkran.  Last weekend, I spent three days throwing water on friends, neighbors, strangers, police men, little kids, and little old ladies.  It was the best thing ever.  Home base was a Thai friend’s house, right in the heart of a busy little neighborhood. We ventured out to the main roads and down around the moat, but the highlight of the weekend for me was seeing how Thai people celebrated just as much as falang. We went down to Thae Pae gate, basically backpacker central, to see the festivities, which were NUTS. There was a foam machine (a la HMC), multiple dance stages, six inches worth of water flooding the streets, and countless people dancing amid the chaos. It was a sight to see, but personally I preferred the time at the house where fresh cooked french fries and endless buckets of water were available. We had quite the battle going with the Thai family who owns the restaurant across the street. Unfortunately, they were more consistent than we were with the purchase of ice blocks to chill their water… Brr.

Anyways, I must say… Songkran is something that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Young, old, Thai, falang… everyone celebrates together and it is a BLAST! I mean, when else is it socially acceptable to shoot a police officer in the head with a water gun?? Come onnnn.

I’ll leave you with a few favorite photos, courtesy of Katherine’s waterproof camera…

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Me, Katherine and Lindsay playing down on Huay Kaew!

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Along the north side of the moat around the old city of Chiang Mai. NOT my favorite water to be splashed with, but “no” really isn’t an acceptable option.

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Nid’s costume shop located in Santitam, our Home Base. We’re so ready!

Needless to say, it was a little hard to get back into the swing of work after a 3.5 day celebration like this. After a day of recovery, we’ve managed to have a pretty productive week with a lot of good things on the horizon for ATMA SEVA.  We’ll be heading back to the Lawa Village this weekend to pick up a volunteer who has been teaching there for the past few weeks, and then next week we head off to another district for a three day English camp! I can’t believe I only have five weeks left… man time flies.

Until next time,

J

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ah, civilization. I missed you so.

Well, I made it back to Chiang Mai! As promised, English speaking company, delicious food and a beautiful apartment were all waiting.  We arrived back in the city Saturday afternoon and by bedtime I had moved into my apartment (upstairs from the new ATMA SEVA office!), gotten a much needed massage, eaten a delicious plate of pad see ew gai, and spent several hours spewing as much English as I could to Katherine over said delicious dinner.  All in all, a great first night back in the city.

I have to say that the highlight of being back, other than the food and being able to communicate, was a spontaneous trip to a nearby district last night to celebrate Sangha Day,  a relatively important Buddhist holiday that occurs on the full moon of the third lunar month (thanks, google!), which coincided with the dedication of the district’s new wat.  We were invited to go out to this wat for a “ceremony,” which I took to mean a relatively quiet evening at the temple with the monks performing some sort of ritual.  I couldn’t have been more wrong. Instead, this is what we encountered:

Dancing our way to the wat!

Dance party… or ceremony at the wat? … or BOTH!

Yes, that is at the wat. And yes, that is a dance party. We arrived around 5:30pm and went straight to a party at a friend of Natch’s, one of the teachers at Wat Doi Saket.  The best comparison I can give for my American readers is that it felt like a 4th of July party.  There were about 30 people already there, food lined up on long tables (including a “make your own noodle soup” station) and beer aplenty.  There was even a DJ with massive speakers, not a sight unique to our party.  As we drove down the street, we must have passed at least ten houses with the exact same set up.  There may or may not been hours of Thai karaoke involved.  It was quite the event.  After stuffing ourselves, and I mean stuffing- the hosts kept bringing over more and more food, including a plate of recognizably barbequed pork… SO GOOD- we finally made our way to the wat. And by “made our way” I mean literally danced our way down the street to the wat followed by a truck loaded up with speakers and disco lights. There were people stopping to light off firecrackers, Thai ladies dancing with us, and plenty of singing and revelry.

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Needless to say, this was completely unexpected and, I think, a wonderful way to celebrate the dedication of a new wat and holiday that celebrates the Buddhist community.  No quiet, subdued ceremony, but a full on dance party that lasted well into the night with delicious food and fun new friends.

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Dancing their way down the road! Katherine, Michael (right) and I were the only farang I saw at the event, which made the experience even more awesome and authentic.

It was a wonderful first full day back in civilization!  I’m looking forward to many more random adventures like this now that I’m back in Chiang Mai.  On the horizon is Songkran, arguably the biggest holiday in Thailand, which is held during the hottest part of the year and involves everyone going outside and throwing water on each other.  Yup, this is a national holiday.  One I’d like to bring back to America.

Until next time,

❤ J

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