CELEBRATING SONGKRAN IN THAILAND
Songkran.. The most cultural experience I’ve probably ever had. The moment I had been talking about my whole life without even knowing it.
“I don’t want to go to college - I believe there’s so much more to witness and learn in life by just stepping out into it”
That would always be my answer on why I don’t want to go to college. How there’s so much to experience in the world and so much to learn it’s all right in front of us. You just have to immerse yourself into a different world than you’ve known, a complete new place and a complete new surrounding of people/scenes.
Obviously Thailand itself was a huge experience for me since it was my first time leaving the states. My first real dream place checked off the list..
My first time in life where I had no idea what I was truly doing or getting myself into.
Some days I didn’t understand anybody because of the language barrier - So I had to learn to communicate with facial expressions and hand gestures. I learned how to hug mostly everyone you meet because we’re all somehow connected in someway. I learned how to haggle while shopping. I learned about myself and what I’m trying to do with life. But the one thing I really learned is how truly happy Thai people are.
If any period of time taught me that - it would be the few days of Songkran.
I have never seen so many smiles or heard so many laughs in one day than I did when in Pai and during this holiday. The energy I felt throughout the town when celebrating was the most energy I’ve felt glow so easily somewhere.
Songkran for those of you who don’t know is Thai New Year! It happens every year from April 13th to April 15th - in some cities they celebrate longer. We were in Chiang Mai the 16th until the 19th and it was still happening for instance then!
It comes from a Sanskrit word meaning “passing” or “approaching” - basically a way of saying letting go and moving on. Or letting new doors open and opportunities coming your way. So the water festivities basically are an act of washing away the past.. Past you, past events, past friends. Everything that needs to be left is rinsed off of you.
I remember our first day during Songkran was when we were still in Khao Sok National Park
(If you haven’t checked those blogs out yet definitely do so here!)
We were both so confused on what was really going on in the streets when we were going to breakfast. All the kids were in inflatable pools, parents filling up buckets of water, water guns, kids roaming the streets with face paint. It felt like the whole street of Khao Sok was a party honestly.. and it really was. We didn’t think much about it since we knew Pai would be crazier and trust me it’s as crazy as it can get. We just wanted to feel ourself really in the moment.. So we ran the streets and let kids paint our face and run with us as we tried to not get hit by super soakers. I just felt like we were all friends and had known each other forever.. They asked for a couple selfies with us so let me throw those in to see how much of a good vibe it is
The journey to Pai our next destination was incredibly far from Khao Sok. Pai is one of the more northern cities in Thailand but mountainous - so we obviously had to go.
To get here we had to take a shuttle to the airport of Surat Thani, a flight to Chiang Mai and then a 3 hour taxi ride to Pai from Chiang Mai. (Our flight landed late or else you could take a shuttle)
The road to Pai is the most motion sickness caused road, with close to 750 twists and turns it’s not for the weak stomach. Bring motion sickness relief pills for sure or some melatonin! I did and didn’t have a problem at all.
Once arriving in Pai it was super late so we checked into our small bungalow that we only paid $7 USD for and knocked out within minutes of arriving.
We woke up the next day knowing it was time to bare all arms.. Because it was truly Songkran and in a bigger city. It felt like honestly everywhere we went we were on a mission. Getting a taxi itself was one just because everything is mostly shut down for the Thai New Year. Meaning yes, even drivers aren’t out. OR they’re the ones driving people around throwing water on bypassers. It took us about 20 minutes that morning to find someone to pick us up and take us to our next hotel. Once we were there we just dropped our bags off, threw on bathing suits, went to the front desk to rent a scooter and were ready to partake in all of Songkran. Wanting the full experience.. Trust me, we got it.
From the second you enter the city there’s no way to avoid it. All the kids are lining up waiting to take their shot on you either with a water gun or a bucket full of water. We drove only 5 minutes into town and we were already completely drenched, yes even while we were on the scooter.. To the point I felt bad even entering a restaurant or a gas station for a snack. Everyone else though outside was even as more soaked as we were and I wondered how and why. Not knowing what Songkran truly was at that time but instead just feeling it and experiencing it for what I could understand in the moment. The whole time I could only think about how wild it was that this is something they do every year. How much love and happiness there was throughout the streets and how life was somehow so simple here. I watched as kids lit up with genuine happiness just from being able to pour water on us whatever way it was. The whole street is a water festival party.. Music from every shop or bar, inflatable pools, hoses on at all times, garbage cans of water, super soaker guns and people driving in the back of pick up trucks doing all of that to get each other. It felt like a huge video game in real life almost, but even then that’s not the correct way to describe it. Because it’s something so special yet so fun for everyone. My heart would melt every time I saw a family or a child laugh or smile after getting us wet.. It was just such a special experience to see something so simple make a whole country so happy. The way everyone made us feel so included was the most heartwarming feeling.. From letting us come inside to hide from people, letting us use their water buckets at times, painting our faces or the adults giving us free shots in the streets. I have never been somewhere full of so much love and surrounded by so many people just wanting to give. My heart is forever changed from the days I got to experience it.
Like I said there wasn’t a lot of words exchanged throughout Songkran just a lot of water thrown on each other, SO MANY SMILES AND LAUGHS, hugs, bowing and love. You could just feel the energy throughout the streets as they celebrated something so sacred and special to them. Not only that, but the fact they allowed for us to partake in it as if we were apart of it the whole time. There wasn’t a lot of other tourists out in the town honestly - we circled a good part of the city of Pai for hours. Not seeing a whole lot of people actually in the streets joining in. It just felt like such an experience to be there during this time and not even planning for it. It turned out being the number one experience to make me truly learn about their culture and are my favorite memories I have. Not a lot captured honestly but a lot of ones not leaving my heart anytime soon.
If you ever get to go to Thailand during Songkran definitely do! But some things to note beforehand:
Depending on where you spend it, it can be sort of dangerous when riding a scooter - It’s true I could feel us about to get thrown off so we preferred to walk
Cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai are a bit more extreme
Buy a dry bag so you can at least keep your phone somewhat safe or bring a GoPro! Everyone is relentless but that’s all apart of the fun
Overall Songkran is one of the best memories I have throughout Thailand simply because I had felt like I belonged somewhere I had never once been before. Strangers felt like family. Water getting thrown on each other was a symbolize for love deep down. It was truly life changing in ways I can’t and personally don’t want to describe just because words can’t even do it justice. It’s something you must experience.
I wish I could go back and say thank you for making an impact on me more than they could have ever imagined.
But oh, I’ll be back.
As always though you guys
Thank you for being Lost in a Dream with me
With lots of love,