Songkran is the Thai New Year’s Festival that focuses on family, religion, and a cleansing, in preparation for a new year. But it wouldn’t be complete without the city wide water fight that Chiang Mai is famous for. And tourists are a BIG target. More on that later…
The Wats (temples) here in Chiang Mai have been preparing all week for Songkran. Thai’s and foreigners alike offer alms to the monks, visit Buddhist temples, cleanse, and give offerings to the Buddha. Within the temples are built sand pyramid images. Decorations of flowers and flags bring even more colour and beauty to this amazing city. A parade will take place for hours along the Night Walking Market Road through the heart of the Old City this Sunday.
This is a time for Thai families to come together honouring and giving thanks to their elders. Our TMC class went to a senior’s centre today to give massage to the residents and staff. Prior to the massage we watched a resident perform three traditional dances before we were a part of a ceremony. We gave and received a jasmine garland, offered the seniors holy water (which they dipped their fingers in and splashed us with as a blessing), and then as a final offering we gave them a sweet snack. Few of the seniors spoke english, and fewer of us could speak Thai, so many smiles and thumbs up were exchanged. Some massage receivers slept, some chatted amongst themselves, some chatted with us, or even on their cell phones (we are the same the world over) and we all had a wonderful day.
After lunch our group went for coffee at a local cafe that could have been a cafe at home. It was located on the Ping River right beside the famous Chiang Mai Iron Bridge. I had to give my head a shake as I could have been in Saskatoon! Just look at these photos of the bridge in Chiang Mai! This bridge is even narrower than ours and is listed on every tourist map of Chiang Mai. Artists paint this famous bridge, and post cards of monks walking across this bridge make wonderful souvenirs.
Now come on Saskatoon, we really need to save our bridge…
Songkran festival would not be complete without the water fight. Our teachers had warned us to bring our water guns to the senior centre. In the afternoon when our truck (full of foreigners) returned to the Old City, we would be a BIG target. Armed with water guns and water bottles, we turned on each other before even getting in our two trucks that would take us back to our guest houses. After a day of massaging seniors in the heat of the day (39 degrees) it was a welcome reprieve to feel cool and wet!
As our two trucks wove through the traffic slowing and sometimes stopping, we exchanged water fire between us with great bursts of laughter and shrieking! But the best was yet to come. Once we reached the walls of the Old City the streets were lined with Thais and tourists alike holding massive water guns and BUCKETS of water. We were no match for this kind of water power and soon found ourselves completely soaked. Good thing we had been given plastic bags to put our valuables in. This will be our very wet lives for the next four to five days.
You won’t find me leaving home without my water pistol and water proof pouch. I LOVE this city!
Happy Songkran everyone!
April 13- 15