I get requests for guest posts from time to time here and typically I do my best to let others share their stories here. I think it lends some diversity to the blog and besides its just good karma to do so. Today I have a brief story from Colin at Farang in Thailand about Songkran in Chiang Mai and the return trip to Bangkok. I have to say that after celebrating Songkran in several places around the Kingdom over the years that Chiang Mai was definitely my favorite too. If you have the chance next year I would heartily recommend you take a trip up to Chiang Mai for Songkran.
Violently shaken out of my seat with hard cases of luggage falling on my legs, the screaming of passengers overloaded my senses, flickering lights added to the confusion and a wholly unnatural swaying movement to the surface I was sitting on distorted my thinking . Although this lasted only seconds I can remember every detail and it was my first near death experience in Thailand, but not last. The Valium suddenly had stopped working!
Like many have experienced and many of whom will validate, this is a common tale of the night bus from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. The bus driver had possibly fallen asleep or had avoided an animal and the bus violently swayed back and forth on the road causing the whole bus to panic and blood pressure to sky rocket. The bus driver regained composure and we continued our journey.
The night bus is a very popular service with backpackers traveling between the two cities as it’s cheap and runs every night. Running from 2100hrs it can take up to 10 hrs to reach Bangkok, over 700km away. During this particular trip my girlfriend and I had just spent the last four days celebrating Songkran in Chiang Mai with some friends, the coach was full of very tired people who had celebrated for days with water fights and obscene quantities of alcohol. That brief near death moment woke us all up and we had a long long journey back to Bangkok thinking about the last few days in Chiang Mai. Calling it a near death experience would be bit of an exaggeration, but scary as hell it was.
Songkran is the Buddhist celebration of new year held every April in Thailand involving massive water fights. The city of Chiang Mai is legendary for its Songkran celebrations and they can often go on for 6 days, with locals and farangs both joining in. The throwing of water started many years ago, a way to show respect to your elders, the water was often poured over Buddhas for a blessing, to obtain good luck for the next year. Over the years this turned into one mass water fight that centralizes around the moat the surrounds the old city.
People drive around on Tuk-Tuks, motorbikes and on the back of trucks throwing water at people who in turn target the vehicles driving around the moat. There are Thai entrepreneurs selling buckets and water guns from stalls set up on the side of the road and there are huge barrels of water placed on the streets so people can fill up their water guns and buckets. It’s a water fight on an epic scale and highlight of any trip to Thailand, I’ll definitely be doing it again. April is also the hottest month in Thailand and the water most definitely helps you cool down. Visit Chiang Mai to experience this iconic Thai festival, just be prepared to get very wet.
I’m moving to Chiang Mai in August 2011, I’ve grown a little bored of my life in the UK and I’m ready for a new challenge. I’ve been blogging about my move to Chiang Mai here at Farang in Thailand; the blog contains practical information about moving to Thailand and journals my personal experience of Thai music, Thai food, Thai people and traveling in S.E Asia. Follow me on twitter.
Check out these similar posts: