Thursday, April 14, 2011

Troot Songkraan

Out with the old and in with the new year!
It all starts out quite serenely with *Tungs waving gently in the hot breeze from sand pagodas and street poles. Fine sprays of mist, softly and respectfully, refresh you as you walk through the gates of temple grounds.
Ladies, boys and ladyboys, dressed in exquisite costumes dance and act out traditional tales on stages dotted all over the city.
Props for the sacred Bodhi trees are lined up for sale.
Old giants are wrapped in blessed orange ribbons.
But then, as Khun K and I strolled back from the markets, where shops where being cleaned and inventory stocktaked, we encountered this aquatic arch on Charoen Meuang bridge...unprepared, we made the 100 metre journey in a songthaew, back to the car.
Squint
 An occasional squirt from the sidewalk on the way home...
...and from the rear of a bike...
...and then traffic almost grinds to a halt, on the moat roads, as the ambushers grow in number...
Yes! Our car doors are locked.
...by late afternoon, the big guns have come out to play...
...and before you know it, it's open slather...
...and all out war! You can run, but, you can't hide. What once was trickle of scented water over the shoulder, is now a bucket of ice cold water...
...even the cars aren't safe from a good dose of, sometimes coloured, talc...
...and if you get tired of drenching everyone else, you can always turn on yourself...
...don't even think about it (again) pink bucket guy!

And it's only Tuesday.

Wednesday it rains and it's cold and Stray and I welcome our guests from Australia, in the comfort of a warm dry taxi...but the festivities are far from dampened. It amazes me that some grumpy tourists walk right through the middle of this mayhem and expect to stay dry. It makes me wonder if some have arrived without a clue that Songkraan is in full swing. 
Today the sun has just started to shine and I can hear shrieks and screams even from here. The celebrations are in full force again...but I'm really, really busy (and dry) writing this post. And then, I have to...er, um, well, I'm sure I'll find something I must have to do, indoors.

(NB - we didn't play on the moat water side of the street nor were we insane enough to ride our bike. Most of the objects, like shrubbery, pillars and people, I was hiding behind while taking these photos, have been cropped from your view.)

*(Tung Chai) These are usually associated with mortuary rites and dedicated to the dead because Songkran is a special occasion for the Thais to make merit to their ancestors. The flags of victory have two tail-like appendages, by which helpless ancestors who have been reborn in hell can hoist themselves to a higher level of existence. includes the celebration of the end of one year -- 'Troot' -- and the beginning of a new year - 'Songkran' Chiangmai-Chiangrai.com

If you'd like to read further about the traditions and customs of Songkraan, try this article from the Ministry of Culture.

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai

22 comments:

Catherine said... Best Blogger Tips

This is great! As always :-) I've just come in from Khao San Road's day two celebrations and before downloading my photos I thought I'd check to see if your Songkran II post was live yet. And it is. Sweet!

And I see you did some hiding as well - it's one of the few ways to protect your camera. I saw two brave guys on in the Khao San water fights with 35's. Brave. Sort of.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Catherine Hiding is one thing I'm good at :) I did have to yell 'CAMERA' a few times when I saw buckets aimed my way.

tom yam said... Best Blogger Tips

Hey Snap, hope you are having a good time.
Check my facebook for yesterdays songkran pics.
tom.....

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@tom yam Great photos Tom! Hawaiian shirts aplenty...and wigs...just wait until I tell Catherine. It looks like a real family/friend celebration, not quite the chaos that's going on here right now...not that I'm pooh poohing it mind you!

Josh @LTMS said... Best Blogger Tips

Great pictures, Snap. Looks like you had a lot of fun! It was a bit too cold here in the States for a water-filled Songkran.

Linda York Leaming said... Best Blogger Tips

Love these pics, Snap! You look lovely all wet. Makes me want to be in Songkraan enjoying the festivities. Having our own festivities here promoting the book, but yours look more fun :)

Linda York Leaming said... Best Blogger Tips

Love the pictures and enjoying the festivities albeit a long way away. You're right that we need different perspectives. Thanks for this one!

Philip said... Best Blogger Tips

Aaah, Songkraan I do miss it! New Year is a muted affair here in Cambodia; Herr Hun Sen has outlawed talc and the throwing of water.

Grumpy tourists? I remember them well... if they can't lighten up on Songkraan, when can they?

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Josh @LTMS Thanks! It was too cold for me here too, after it started raining. I'm guessing there will be quite a few sniffles around today.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Philip It does sound like Herr Hun Sen has put a damper on the Cambodian celebrations ...perhaps for safety reasons?

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Linda York Leaming Thanks for dropping by Linda. I'm enjoying your book journey and always look forward to seeing more of Namgay's art...and perspectives!

Martyn said... Best Blogger Tips

Snap thanks for posting some lovely pictures of Songkran Chiang Mai style. It looks a great place to be and one day I want to witness it myself, gun in hand for a walk on the wet and wild side of life. Smashing picture of you and Stray as well.

I see you have changed your comments plugin, that's good news for me because lately I hadn't been able to get my comments to stick. Google Chrome and Firefox just wouldn't play ball.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Martyn It was definitely a day to remember. Re: the comment plugin. You weren't the only one having trouble, so I Googled the problem...looks like it's working OK now :)

Lani said... Best Blogger Tips

cigs also create a kind of force field during the celebrations. although i did see a camera get hit. i think it was waterproofed?

glad you ventured out. my friends and i were talking about hiding like we were going to get raped or something. but went out for 2 days and it was fun!!!

the moat was absolutely insane. kad suan kaew was rockin' too but not to the extent that the moat gets.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Lani It's funny you mention the cigs...I lit one for Songkraan defence, only, on the way back from the shopping mall before. It kind of worked...that or someone had a very bad aim ;)

Yes, rockin' is a good word to describe the moat area!

Mark Damaroyd said... Best Blogger Tips

My Songkran passed peacefully in the village. Apart from a few children squirting from plastic guns, barrels of water being dispensed thoughtfully over everything from passing pickups, the day remained as tranquil as ever – except for rowdy parties, drunken youths, blaring headman messages, and competing hi-fi systems from scores of private parties. Oh joy, oh bliss!

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Mark Damaroyd it looks like nowhere is safe from the pandemonium, that is songkraan...even a rural village ;)

Sawadee bpee mai kha

Philip said... Best Blogger Tips

Cambodian safety? I'm sure that's the reason Hun Sen used, yes. To be fair he's got a point.

But the chance to impose further control over his citizens surely appeals. And uncontrolled crowds on the streets probably make him nervous at any time!

He's very conservative, too- those images of Thai ruffians having all that uninhibited fun with water probably appalls him.

Had a walk through the city yesterday and it's deserted...

Catherine said... Best Blogger Tips

My soi is safe...

(couldn't resist :-D

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Philip, I'm ashamed to say I don't know much about current Cambodian politics, but I do know the people could sure do with some celebrating and good cheer.

@Catherine...*raspberry*

Tes said... Best Blogger Tips

Beautiful captures of Song Kran :) I love your blog... The pictures on your blog make me wanna travel more often :)

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Tes Thanks! The photos on your blog make me wanna eat more ;) You have some delicious recipes on your site. I'm looking forward to cooking some and reading more about you and your life.