Saturday, July 12, 2014

Songkran

Songkran is the Lao and Thai New Year. It begins in mid-April and is officially a few days long, but khon Thai usually stretch it out to about a work week and two weekends.

Even if you had no idea what time of year it is, you would know when it is Songkran in Thailand. A tell-tale sign is a noticeable increase in the number of people packed in truck beds, visiting relatives and friends and “vacationing.” Teenagers and young adults with backpacks whom you’ve never seen before will walk into the village quietly. These are the kids who have been away at school and are returning home for what amounts to an annual reuniting of all Thai families – kaupkua.

When Somkran gets under way, you absolutely know it by the number of kids on the side of roads throwing water at passers by; not just kids, either. It is traditional for everyone to at least sprinkle water on relatives and friends.

Even Buddha statues get a watering:



And not even traffic police are exempt from a dousing (that’s white powder that’s also been applied presumably by passersby, which is also traditional):






When Thai New Year gets into full swing, you can also tell it’s that time of year because some Kon Thai get absolutely, positively “drunk as a skunk” is the expression I grew up with. There are many other expressions for it. It translates: stay away from these people.

It’s in large part because of the extreme imbibing of alcohol that each Thai New Year, I retreat further and further into the back reaches of our home and properties. I mean, I’ve been no shining example of sobriety, myself, and there are stories told. But, at age 65, I like to think that I’ve learned a thing or two.


“Been There, Done That.”

A further reach into our home: Thip's stove, back kitchen:


(Rice cooker on left, wok in middle. On the right: wooden plate for spreading and cooling the sticky rice; bamboo rice containers on extreme right; water jugs and Beer Chang under the counter)

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