Saturday, April 9, 2011

Aloha Chiang Mai

For the last week or so Hawaiian shirts, sarongs, psychedelic moo moo dresses and large tops made from material similar to that of a table cloth, have been appearing on mass in the department stores. Not only for sale, but worn by the store staff. Blue Hawaii, except I haven't spotted Elvis...yet!

This is great, because we're going to Phuket soon and Chiang Mai isn't usually a flood with beach going gear. Understandably, considering there's isn't a beach within cooee. I'm still not quite sure how I feel about those one piece swimsuits with the skirts attached, which seem to be in the majority...but, then again, this is Thailand!

Presuming, but not sure, this was all in preparation for Songkraan, I asked my favourite checkout chick...she just loves my dumb questions...I mean, she really does!
I motion to her colourful hibiscus print shirt "Your shirt, is it for Songkraan?" She gives me a puppy like tilted head.

OK! I motion to the other checkout chicks one by one..."dawk maai, dawk maai, dawk mai..." (flower, flower, flower...) as I point to my own shirt.

"Ah, Songkraan", she says and puts up one finger, "April."

"Oh, from the 1st of April? And they are for Songkraan?"

"Yes" she says, "have you been to Songkraan before?"

"No, this is my first time. I've missed it before." She smiles and hands me my change, but there's a 'you have no idea what you're in for' glint in her eyes.

I leave the store with yet another quandary. So, the beach attire is for Songkraan, but why? Is it just that both have the common denominator of water or is there some deeper connection?

Wear light, quick-dry clothing. Thais don Hawaiian shirts, which are inexpensive and available from local supermarkets -

Dressed in the brightly colored Hawaiian shirts popular with Thais during the festival... - Perceptive Travel

And this observation: Dress code: most people wear Hawaiian shirts called beach shirts. Made from cotton, it's perfect for summer time, and it's not too thin to see your underwear. With the colorful theme, it's harder to see your body. Some old people who don't want to play just don't dare to wear beach shirts for weeks, or they will be wet immediately the second they step out of the door. - Trip Adviser Member

I was contemplating buying a shirt, but after reading that, I think I'll be target enough without one. And, it's appearing that the only connection between the loud shirts and Songkran...IS water!

Water guns. I have two. One purse size and one a little larger. No match for buckets and giant ladles, I know...but at least I'm not unarmed. 

It's not all about water you know. I'm off to see some of the more culturally enriching sites very soon, which Talen has so kindly documented in his Chiang Mai Fest post.

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai


Catherine said... Best Blogger Tips

How very weird. I have thousands of Songkran photos... none have Thais in Hawaiian shirts... so is this a Chiang mail deal?

Catherine said... Best Blogger Tips

I just googled and apparently it's so - even in Bangkok - so how'd I manage to miss the Hawaiian shirts?

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Catherine I'm sure we don't frequent the same shops...I'm a Tesco/Big C/Carrefour :)

The amount of beachy clothes on sale is impressive, which makes me think I'll wait for the after Sonkraan specials for my swimsuit.

I'm a newbie here, so I have no idea just how many people actually wear this colourful attire, but it does make sense...transperancy wise.

tom yam said... Best Blogger Tips

As this is your first Songkraan, here are a couple of tips.
The official SK day differs from place to place but can be on any given day next week. So be prepared to get soaked and plastered in a mixture of flour/water for most of the week.
Keep your mob phone wrapped in plastic for next week. . That also goes for anything that might be ruined if it got soaked( money, travel documents etc)
SK is a lot of fun but sometimes you can get soaked when you may not be in the mood (or the right attire) but just keep smiling and wish everyone a happy new year.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@tom yam thanks for the advice...I'm staying one step ahead (paranoid). Even today I'll be wearing appropriate clothes and taking my vinyl I have a leather one! And, I'll be taking my water pistol, just in case I have to return fire ;)

Tom Yam said... Best Blogger Tips

My weapon of choice is the 1.5 litre plastic jug....... What it lacks in range it more than makes up for with instant reload and a broadside delivery !!

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

Good choice Tom Yam...the fun has already begun, but so far, I've managed to stay high and dry :)...but it's early days yet.

Lani said... Best Blogger Tips

Ohhhh, you are in for a treat ;) I've heard the Aloha attire is a relatively new thing. They used to wear more traditional clothing. And the Hawaiian in me must correct your spelling - it's muumuu not moo moo :P

We can thank the missionaries for those. Apparently running around topless and naked was too much for their Christian sensibilities.

(Yes, I am finally am back online!!!)

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks for the correction :)Great to see you back online again.

I've already had my first treat, watched the fun and festivities up near the moat (on the clean water side of the road) and got totally saturated :)

Catherine said... Best Blogger Tips

Snap, what can I say...

Villa Market - the baggers were wearing Hawaiian shirts.

On the street - I got drenched twice by truckloads of gals wearing Hawaiian shirts.

Sigh. What can I say... but I do usually leave Thailand during Songkran (so how's that for an excuse? :-D

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Catherine You're excused ;) I was put to shame a few times when JJ was visiting. She'd ask me questions, which I couldn't answer or spot things I'd never taken notice of before. I started to think I'd been walking around with blinkers on!

Catherine said... Best Blogger Tips

Snap, after all this time I'm still getting caught out here. One newbie pointed out some really weird (ugly) masks. Now, I collect masks and thought I'd seen them all so I said, "those are not Thai"... shame on me... I found out later that it's a festival of ugliness (not the real name).

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Catherine I forgot to mention the straw cowboy hats, that go with the Hawaiian shirts ;)And there were a few rubber masks on sale.

Stray and I collect masks from different countries. I really want a Phi Ta Knon mask!!!!! I'm intrigued by the ugly masks you speak of.

Catherine said... Best Blogger Tips

Snap, I saw the cowboy hats yesterday but they were not wearing the Hawaiian shirts.

Rubber masks? Did you see a lot wearing them? I saw one but didn't get a photo.

I have photos of the ugly masks here... somewhere...

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Catherine Hardly saw anyone wearing the rubber masks and only one vendor selling them...but there could have been more. Most uncomfortable I would think, limited vision and in the heat and water, squelching around on your face.

Martyn said... Best Blogger Tips

Snap, during the Songkran festivities you wouldn't get me near some of the ponds I've seen in Thailand.

There's a pond at a restaurant near to Wilai's village and I reckon if you cast a fishing line into it the hook would melt. I'm sure the mosquitoes think twice about hovering over it.

I don't mind a good clean Songkran soaking but some of the rivers, lakes and pond waters are a bit too treacly for my liking.

Enjoy Songkran.

A water pistol that fits into a purse, I hope your 'wallet' is the size of a suitcase otherwise you're going to be seriously outgunned. David wouldn't have taken on Goliath in a Songkran water-fight.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Martyn In hind sight, my guns were pathetic and were too embarrassing to bring out into the open. Maybe there'll be a next time!

I managed to dodge any gunky, smelly or slimy hair actually felt great after it had dried????