The goggles I’d picked up at a club two nights ago clung close to my face, which was both a boon and a bane. While the persistent waves of water weren’t reaching my eyes, my vision was constantly being clouded by condensation collecting inside. Risking a peek out from underneath the lenses after some frantic rubbing hadn’t cleared my sight, I sought my friends in the crowd.
The grocery bag wrapped around my camera pattered as water streaming from dozens of guns struck it. I clutched it close, but wasn’t too worried.
This was the third time the group had been separated in smaller clusters at the Central World Songkran party. I was starting to feel like a chick seeking Mother Hen.
Family Friendly Zone
Maybe they’d gone back into the foam pit? Dragging the friends I’d managed to keep at my side, we shifted to the edge of the event and pulled our phones from their plastic bags. After calling and arranging a meeting place the phones fled back to hide from the water. We were ready for the foam party.
Holding my camera high and taking note of my friend’s positions I took a deep breath, then jumped into the foam. As it was two days before, everything was jubilant chaos.
The red noise sticks fluttered back and forth as energetically as liquid particles. Everyone was decked out in the latest foam fashion with extravagantly puffy hats, vests, pants, Afros and gowns.
Heck some people were even getting lost in the foam. Using it as camouflage while they played around.
Soon, all foamed up, we gravitated out of the pit and into the water fight zone next door to wash off.
I now bring you scenes pretty much presented in the exact same way I saw them unfold. Droplets clung to my goggles and condensation fogged up my view but what I did see was amusing and rewarding.
My favourite haunt within the free-for-all was a wide circle by one of the entrances where everyone waited for individuals to stride across—either out of bravery or necessity. Some brave souls walked or danced into the centre to happily accept a dowsing.
Others attracted unwanted attention through their costumes and tried to duck and cover to no avail. The more you floundered the more people pushed on. The idea is to wash away your sins and give you drown you in good luck after all!
Some people attempted to dash across the ring of water only to be met with a wall of water guns and all escape cut off. Once more the crowd would close in cheering as they dumped as much as possible on their victims.
You may remember those dance circles from high school. The ones where your friends would try to toss you in the middle where you had to dance for a few seconds before fleeing back to safety?
There was a similar atmosphere here where people were jostled and shoved into the centre, giggling, screaming and ducking as they were assaulted with water.
After some gleeful revisits to the two zones, my friends and I decided it was time to move on. We headed up to the BTS (sky train) to travel to our next destination.
When we disembarked and glanced down to the street we collectively gasped in shock.
Good god, I don’t think even sardines could be packed in that tight.
Leave The Kids At Home Zone
As we slowly seeped out of the BTS station and to the ground, face after face painted in white paste stalked past.
Unlike the Central World event the paste was allowed on Silom Road, so we quickly found ourselves at the beginning of an endless line of buckets, hands and face smearing. With my cap and goggles most people aimed for my neck and cheeks. Sometimes they aimed for my goggles.
I quickly learned to tone down my smile from its usual toothy grin so I wouldn’t constantly find the paste wandering past my lips. It tastes gross.
It seemed as though every time I had my face sufficiently covered in the paste a person with a bucket or particularly big water gun would wash it all off. Then I’d be targeted once more and the cycle would continue.
When I finally caught a glimpse of myself I was shocked to discover less paste on my face and neck than I’d predicted. As my friends and I wove through the overwhelming mass at Silom we formed a conga line; our hands clutched shoulders and bag straps in an effort to stay together.
Quick Break Zone
A detour down a gay district side street would offer a welcome respite from the crowds. A particularly rowdy group of men nabbed two of our group and covered them in the white paste as we strode down this road, but it was pretty quiet otherwise.
Our last stop on the Bangkok Songkran event map was Asiatique. By this point I had killed my camera’s battery so it was out of commission. Asiatique itself has a really nice layout so the event was pretty nice.
We listened to some music at an outdoor stage under the full moon as the market’s landmark ferris wheel lit up the night. This event had the most toned down water levels among the ones I’d experienced. The only water play present was people using their water guns to spray over the crowd. It was a gentle end to a crazy day.
After two days of Songkran water play and almost 24 hours of being wet collectively I could barely step into the shower the day after. I’m still hopping out as fast as I can two days later.
But, I’ve already been invited to visit Myanmar next year to experience their Thingyan Festival (which inspired Thailand’s Songkran).
I hear it’s even wilder and wetter. Better bring some scuba gear.