Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Songkran 2017

Getting back to our lives in Northeastern Thailand, in the beginning months of 2017...

After the Boon Pakwet warm-up, we -- along with the whole country -- celebrated Songkran during the hottest part of the year -- April. It is based on the Buddhist lunar calendar, not the solar. In Thailand, it is called the Thai New Year; in Lao, it is called the Lao New Year; in Cambodia it is the Khmer New Year. I’m not sure about other parts of Southeast Asia, but I’d bet their new year is the same time, too.

Technically less than a week long, Songkran goes on for a full two weeks during which numerous Buddhist ceremonies are held. It is the time of year when all families come together.


There are so many ceremonies and rites that I can’t remember them all. I leave it to my wife to be my scheduler and even then, I’ll opt out of them if I feel I’v gone to too many in too short a period of time. I’m careful not to get “templed-out,” something to which my wife will never be afflicted by.


My strategy in dealing with Songkran is basically to keep off the roads as much as possible and stay away from public places or gatherings of people celebrating -- Attendance at wat ceremonies not necessarily included in my personal travel ban. Riding even on back roads, you might be weigh laid by groups of kids throwing water on vehicles -- and especially effective -- riders on motorcycles. They might even ask you to stop so that they can apply baby powder to your face and chest. As for staying away from groups of people and -- to a further extreme -- dropping out of sight, well, some people get absolutely drunk they’re not much fun to be around.


So, if you’re looking for me around the Southeast Asian Buddhist New Year, you’re gonna hafta do some detective work.


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