Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Bangkok: Happy New Year ~ Songkran

While sending you Songkran, or Happy New Year, greetings from Thailand, I will also apologize for the proliferation of posts arriving in your feeds and inboxes this last week.  I am making the most of our last few hours of internet connection. . .we board our cruise ship later today and internet – even the unlimited package which we’ve been promised --  is always hit and miss. . .

Songkran is Thailand’s New Year, also known as, Thailand Water Festival, a holiday of great significance here and celebrated each year from April 13 – 15. Lucky us, we arrived early enough for our cruise that we could have a peek at the festivities.

Thailand Water Festival

Water is sprinkled on family members and elders for good fortune during this holiday. In recent years it has gone beyond sprinkling to outright water fun and games with certain areas of the city drawing thousands armed with water guns, soakers, buckets and spray equipment ready to soak one and all.

Street vendors sell every kind of water spray toy and equipment imaginable. Bangkok police, however, have issued warning in the media that those selling high pressure water guns could be jailed for up to five years and be fined up to 500,000 baht, the Thai currency.

P1000166
Songkran Water guns are everywhere
Monday, the man sitting next to me on the SkyTrain, (a train that loops above the city with stops, much like bus stops) was heading out for water games.  By use of point-to-it sign language I asked to photograph his gun.  He insisted that he suit up with protective eyewear and hold the gun for the full effect. (Then he asked to have his photo taken with me).

 P1000165

Songkran

The holiday has its basis though in visits to temples and family time.  Many Thais in Bangkok close up their mom-and-pop businesses and return to their hometown villages to celebrate with family. Which has eased both pedestrian and vehicle traffic immensely since our first couple of days here. Many who stay in the city make it a point to visit temples – those of the Buddhist religion participate in merit-making ceremonies and visiting temples is one sure way of making merit.

P1000187

We weren’t out to make merit, we were simply headed to the grocery store down the road to buy a bottle of wine, when we decided to stop in the temple across the street on Tuesday morning.

PicMonkey Collage

We’d no more than arrived when a kindly Buddhist monk approached, welcoming us, and invited  us to participate in Bathing the Buddha image – one of the merit-making ceremonies that takes place on this second day of the holiday.

We each filled a gold bowl with water from the large tub and poured a bit on each of the Buddha images pictured above. We were symbolically washing away the misfortunes of our past year.

P1000193

Our host then took us to the large temple where monks gather three times each day to pray. He told us that he knew of Washington State (many here don’t) because he had lived for a time outside Hollywood, California. He currently has a girlfriend living in Boston. After I took this photo, he offered to take our photo. He said that way we could remember our visit. . .

P1000195

He didn’t understand we didn’t need a photo to make this visit an unforgettable one!

Songkran Quick Facts:
* Thailand’s Tourism Council estimates that 470,000 tourists will visit between April 11 – 15
* More than 150 charter flights from Shanghai will bring 26,000 tourists for the holiday.
* Silom and Khao San Road are the ‘wettest’ places to celebrate the water festival in Bangkok.
* The Bangkok post reported that by Tuesday more than 60 had been killed in roadway accidents; 40% of which involved drunk driving and/or motorcycles.

Linking up (we hope!) this week with:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox  
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route 
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening

19 comments:

  1. Songkran is my absolute favorite Asian celebration, mainly because of the water fight. There's a Thai temple in Penang, and their Songkran is quite fun. It seems that the people must have been rather kind to you as I see that you are not sopping wet in the photos. When I've been, it seems like everyone but monks were fair targets. Have a wonderful cruise. I can't wait to read about it when you're back to the virtual world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I write today Michelle from about two hours away from Bangkok; our cruise has begun! And we did make it through the festival with only one little guy taking aim at us, but his dad quickly stopped him from sprinkling us (we either looked too old or too tourist - or both!). It was fun being there though.

      Delete
  2. I agree with Michele - I can't believe you made it through dry! Remi and I experienced the Cambodian version in Phnom Pehn and it was no holds barred!! And that included slapping rice powder on the cheeks of passerby. Water plus rice powder? A mess! But so much fun! I loved this post and need to get caught up on the others. Spring is here so I haven't been on my computer so much. :)
    Have a wonderful, safe cruise you two world travelers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello from the Bay of Bangkok, Heather. Our cruise has started! Loved your tale of the Water Festival. And you explained a mystery in your comment as we had a tour guide whose cheeks were covered with a white paste/power and we were too polite to ask her why! You've explained it, I think!

      Delete
  3. I'm jealous you're at Songkran this year! I'd love to go and it looks like you had such an amazing experience- I miss Thailand!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Katie, glad I brought a yearning to be in Thailand to you in this post. It is a crusty sort of city but certainly has its charms and the Songkran celebration added to that tremendously! Thanks much for your visit!

      Delete
  4. Hello Joel and Jackie

    What a wonderful experience you had meeting the young monk and being immersed in the Songkran celebrations. How special for you. Wishing you continued joy and unique experiences as you continue your journey
    Helen xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for your visit today Helen. It was a great experience even knowing nothing much about Buddhism - you felt the significance of the act of washing the image. More soon Jackie xx

      Delete
  5. Carrier pigeons, both of you! How lucky you are to travel around the world, how open must be your mind and how enriched must be your life with all those travel experiences!!! You must be very courageous as well, to pursue your dreams dear Jackie and Joel, wish I could join you...
    Thinking of you,
    Olympia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Olympia, I love the concept of being carrier pigeons! I'll call myself that now instead of a travel blogger! ;-) We set sail this morning. . .so 31 days from now we will be back 'home' in Greece and headed to The Mani.

      Delete
  6. So wonderful to learn about Songkran through your eyes, Jackie and Joel. I'd never heard of this new year or its festivities, and was interested to find out the meaning of its rituals. A further surprise was hearing that your friendly monk has a girlfriend!;))

    Hugs,
    Poppy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Poppy, I also had not heard of this celebration but from the comments I've received so far, a number of people certainly do know about it. One of the staff members from Myanmar told us yesterday that it is also celebrated there. Oh so many things to learn about in the world and sometimes my brain is just too small to remember them all! Hugs to you~ Jackie

      Delete
  7. Your line, "we didn't need a photo to make this visit an unforgettable one" says it all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks much for the visit! It really was an amazing side trip -- the kind that doesn't happen on the way to the grocery store back home! I appreciate your keeping up with us. . .hugs to you!

      Delete
  8. Hi Jackie...what a great Songkran you too had. I am never in Thailand in April, so it's a holiday that is still waiting for me. Thai monks are often very welcoming. The monk telling you he has a girlfriend in Boston made me laugh.

    ReplyDelete
  9. PS...I love the shot you got of "Waterfighter Man" :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. What fun you're having and I loved the picture of the man wielding the water gun. We, too are cruising but in a different direction - across the Atlantic on the way to Spain - and also enjoying our "Unlimited Internet" package while we can. However, we're not nearly as organized as you regarding posting your flurry of current adventures and I'm enjoying them all!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great photo of you two! Now I've been enlightened about Songkran - looking forward to what else you will show us on this amazing trip!

    ReplyDelete

So happy to see you took the time to comment. We read them all - and each is much appreciated. We hope you will be a regular here and comment often!

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...