Celebrating Songkran in Thailand
Imagine starting the New Year with a country-wide water pistol fight! If you’re in the UK like me, you may think it’s a little too cold to try that, but if the climate was right, wouldn’t it be awesome? That’s how they celebrate in Thailand! Why? Water is meant to cleanse the body from the wrongs of the last year, and this is a chaotic way to do so!
The Thai New Year is in mid-April rather than January and we managed to tie it in with our second road trip. Instead of the northern mountainous city of Chiang Mai where we stayed at the beginning of the semester, we instead were on the party island of Koh Samui.
GETTING TO KOH SAMUI
We were in Khao Sok National Park before heading to the island. After getting minibuses back to Surat Thani, we caught a ferry-like boat to get to Koh Samui.
The trip was around an hour and forty minutes, so I used the time as a chance to finish the book I was reading. I had been given it as a gift by one of the guys who had joined us for the road trips - the backpacking community are very open and caring for one another.
REACHING THE ISLAND
Upon getting to Koh Samui, we caught another minibus which dropped us off near our hostel. However, there was one issue - we had to cross a street already shrouded with locals and backpackers celebrating Songkran. Luckily, most people lowered their water guns so we could get past.
We LOVED Lub D Hostel in Siem Reap, and now we were staying in their Koh Samui hostel. The beds and bathrooms were spacious, and the bunks used stairs rather than ladders to get up, pretty cool!
There were two pools, a games area, food, a bar and the back of the hostel lead straight onto the beach! We hung around there for a while, some students got organised or napped before we all headed out to celebrate Songkran.
This time, we weren’t so lucky about getting soaked. We were all drenched by the time we found someone selling water pistols. We only brought cheap ones whereas others had guns which made it look like they were professional athletes in the sport.
We teamed up initially but broke up into smaller groups with time. One thing we learnt quickly - everybody is everyone’s enemy. Race, age, gender and the like are completely irrelevant. I had a child attacking me at first before an older British man kept pouring buckets of icy water down my neck.
There was also live music which was insane! Several guys were sat facing the audience at the front of the stadium with their water guns. The area was filled with screams, be they from fun or the feeling of icy water (which wasn’t painful but was a shock to the system. Remember the ice bucket challenge?).
We were in Koh Samui for three days, and most of us headed out for Songkran on Days 1 and 3. Day 2 was used for tanning and chilling out considering it was the middle of the road trip. The temperature was about forty degrees Celsius, so the nearby sea and pool were much appreciated.
Some of the group headed to the Fisherman’s village to check out the area, although I relaxed in the pool while they did (hard life).
I’m not much of a partier so wasn’t particularly bothered about Koh Samui, although I was curious about Songkran. I absolutely loved it! It was great seeing all people young and old coming together to have a huge water fight. It was definitely a unique way to welcome the Thai New Year!
About the author
Jasmin Dawling is one of Global Grad’s January 2019 students and is completing a full-time Bachelor’s degree with the Open University in International Studies. While this is her first time formally blogging, she has had plenty of writing experience in the past, from novel writing since the age of six to working on the school newspaper. Apart from seeing the sights of South East Asia and working on her degree, Jasmin spends most of her time either procrastinating or writing down her novel ideas, be it on her travelling-inspired new ideas or the 7-part series she’s been toying with for almost ten years.