When Songkran 2014 Happened

Where to even begin . . . Let’s start with some background about Songkran, or Thai New Year!

Songkran occurs for one-seven days (depending on the city) in mid-April every year, and because April is the hottest month of the year in Thailand, the way Songkran is celebrated is pretty brilliant. Thais and tourists alike celebrate with a country-wide water fight. Literally. Buckets, hoses, water guns, you name it are at the ready, and you cannot escape getting wet even if you’re on a motorbike or in open-air public transportation. Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and Khon Kaen are the most popular places to go for Songkran (meaning that the water fight will be on nearly every street in these cities! no escape!) and celebrate with water for three days. Now, as for the actual background of Songkran, I found a common and simple explanation as well as a quite complex explanation. Wikipedia has of course opted for the first kind, attributing the throwing of water to the symbolic washing away of bad. Thai Airways Magazine, on the other hand, offers an extremely detailed background, one that I’d never heard before. Apparently, Thailand adopted the practice of an April New Years celebration from India, where springtime is in full bloom at the beginning of the month. The article goes into extreme detail – and I mean extreme – so I encourage you to click the link and read about it if you’re interested. Along with mentioning the modern-day religious practices associated with Songkran, it also explains the complicated legend behind the holiday.

I chose to celebrate Songkran in one of my favorite Thai cities: Chiang Mai. Let me tell you, people are not kidding when they say that Chiang Mai is one of the most popular destinations to go to for the Water Festival. Tourists started celebrating with water as early as 9 AM (which I know from experience because I got water gun-ed as I was walking with my backpack to check into my guesthouse) and didn’t stop until around 7 or 8 PM. Thais started celebrating a little later and finished a little earlier, but regardless, 9 AM-8 PM was not safe if you were wanting to stay dry. I was out and about in the city for one day and then chose to stay undercover indoors the next day. Because there are only so many times that you can change from wet clothes into dry clothes only to get wet again! While it did become a little overwhelming on that first day, I loved the incredible spirit of joy and exhilaration rampant in the city. I think that everyone turned into kids while they celebrated, intent on getting anyone who looked the least bit dry completely soaked. 🙂

After Chiang Mai, I headed up to Chiang Rai. I honestly expected bigger things from CR, but after a few days in the city, I found it to hold some charm that at first had gone unnoticed. I think that if you were to stay there for several months, the charm would definitely unfold. But if you’re planning on visiting only for a few days, know that: CR’s city center is extremely small; the major tourist spots are very far away – from each other and from the city center; CR’s way of life is very slow-paced; and you will need to either adapt or come to terms with very little to do every day – and night! – that you’re visiting. I don’t think that much could have prepared me for just how small and slow-paced CR really is, but knowing that it’s very different from Chiang Mai and the rest of Thailand’s popular tourist destinations might help you just a bit. Also, I highly recommend Suwannee Thai Cooking Class to take up one of your days. It was an awesome experience, and the food we made was incredible!

And that ends my April travel posts! I hope you learned a little bit and enjoyed the photos. Now onto this week’s {easy} workout plan:

M: Rest
TU: Run/Walk 2 miles
W: Hot Flow
TH: Run/Walk 2 miles + Body Pump
F: Rest
SA: Hot Flow
SU: Run/Walk 2 miles

What’s on your agenda for this week? This month? Enjoy your Monday!

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