Celebrating Songkran: An Unforgettable Night in Bangkok

For the past few weeks, people all over Asia have been gearing up for the largest festival of the year: the Buddhist New Year. Different counties call it by different names and celebrate it on slightly different dates, but regardless of which Asian country you are in during the month of April, you will get soaked.

The Buddhist New Year is officially celebrated for 3 days (usually April 13-15), but in reality people begin partying two weeks in advance. Traditionally, the start of a new year was recognized as a time of cleansing and renewal. People would pour water over their Buddha images, then collect the “blessed” water to pour over the shoulders of friends and family as good luck. Today – though I’m sure the traditional rituals are still practiced – the subtle water on the shoulder routine has turned into a full blown water fight.

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Having taken an overnight bus from Luang Prabang, then an overnight train from Vientiane to Bangkok back-to-back, Jeremy and I were feeling a bit drained when we arrived. Fortunately, our tiredness was nothing a little pick-me-up lunch of pad thai, red bull and beer couldn’t fix. By noon, we were on the streets, armed with water guns and buckets of gooey talc.

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Now, I know Chang Mai is the Songkran capital of Thailand, but I have to give Bangkok props for throwing one helluva New Years party too. Silom Avenue was crazy!! From noon ’til way past midnight, the streets were packed with people and filled with water. There were fire hoses going off in the air, water guns being sprayed from all directions, slimy talc being smeared on everyone’s faces, live bands and blaring DJs (have no idea how that worked with all the water), buckets of ice water being thrown, and food stands everywhere somehow avoiding the wetness. Even the skies played along, unleashing a torrential downpour on the city. Unfortunately, my camera couldn’t handle the party, but I know Jeremy and I will never forget the images from Songkran in Bangkok.

By the end of the night, we were soaked to the bone one hundred times over and happier than ever. As everyone around us was celebrating the end of the year, we were celebrating the end of our time in Southeast Asia. What an unforgettable way to conclude the last three and a half months and to kickoff the final leg of our trip – Nepal.

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