Songkran Adventure 2015: Chiang Mai


Songkran has been over for like a month now, and the amazingly timely writer in me is only posting this up now. My lecturers will be so proud of me. But because I haven't gushed (no pun intended) enough about on my various social media pages, I'm here sitting in my office typing out this blog post and silently weeping for yet another chance to sit and soak.

Let me give a bit of introduction to what exactly it is I'm rambling on about. About a month ago, I was invited by the good people at AirAsia to go participate in a truly remarkable festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The Songkran Festival, for the few of you who don't know what that is, is basically a water festival happening during the traditional New Year's Day in Thailand, starting from 13 to 15 April annually. During this time, people take part in the traditional water pouring as a symbol of washing away all of their sins and bad luck,

For those of you who don't like reading Wikipedia descriptions, Songkran is a time excuse for people to go out wielding water guns and pails of water to bring new meaning to the phrase, "wet behind the ears". Typing that out just gave me goosebumps.

This would be my first Songkran session ever, because I haven't really lived, man. And I didn't know what to expect at all. There were so many questions I had going around in my head; "What do people do?""So they just splash water on everyone?""What about my phone and money?""Am I going to die?", which even as I got off the plane in Chiang Mai, remained blissfully unanswered. On hindsight, this made my virgin Songkran trip so much more enjoyable.

Most of the other bloggers on the trip; Henry "CleverMunkey" LeeCalista "Ultra Potato" Liew andCharlotte "Super Soaker" Fong were equally underprepared for what we were supposed to expect, and while Calista did some research, it was mostly inadequate because she is a potato NOTHING CAN FULLY EXPLAIN THE AWESOMENESS OF SONGKRAN. Our AirAsia Nee-san, Ka Mei was also equally mysterious throughout our stay in Chiang Mai, often breaking into a mysterious smile whenever. Or maybe she's just like that, I don't know.

Far left: AirAsia Nee-san's mysterious smile. 

See the thing about Songkran is that no one can ever claim to be prepared enough for it. Because no matter how prepared you think you are, as soon as you step out from the relative safety of your hotel, the water barrage that hits you is like a tsunami.

We weren't ready for the kind of water fights that would randomly break out on the streets. On our first night there, we stumbled onto a group who were just camped in front of a hotel fountain. "Leave no one dry" seemed to be the message as buckets were filled and emptied, water guns were pumped and people were screaming in absolute joy.

It was fantastic.

After a hearty meal of delicious Thai food, which our AirAsia Nee-san said we would need in case we had to run away from the water fights, we decided that weapons were needed if we were to survive the water war the next day. I've put the preparations for your battle in a more accessible format below.

You can even print this handy guide in an image here for your next Songkran trip!

You'll need a waterproof pouch for your money and phone. You can easily get any of these at a streetside store for like 40 baht (RM 4+). This will help you document the water war on your phone, aka to impress your friends at home who are not getting soaked. 

My mistake was not putting enough importance on my own pouch to even remember snapping a picture of it. Here's one I borrowed from CheeChingy.

Here's a little tip when buying your weapon of choice. This is the only known occasion where bigger isn't better. Bigger water guns will weigh you down and will leave your arms sore after a day's worth of lugging it around.

Get something with a lot of power, but remains lightweight. A small pail is good, but it also has the reusability value of a condom. Still, with the amount of shops offering water refills, it's your choice. 

What is this? Clash of Clans? You don't need defense, man. Offense is the only way to go. GO SOAK THOSE PEOPLE!

Sunblock is vital, unless you're into becoming a wet barbequed chicken. Speaking of barbeque chicken, don't worry about food. Most restaurants will welcome soaking wet and very hungry patrons in with open arms, to make sure they're well-fed for the battles ahead. You don't need knowledge of the Thai language, because the only thing coming out of your mouth are squeals of joy as you're getting splashed with icy cold water by 5 year olds. 

Case in point.

I know I've mentioned this before somewhere in the wall of text above, but the awesomeness of Songkran cannot be properly expressed in words. So I'm going to try to fit in as many videos and pictures as I can to try and give you a gist of what Songkran is like.

Water can hit you at any time. No one is safe.

And weird characters roam the streets, seeking to make you wet.

Old ladies stop traffic to dance in the middle of the streets.

And posers pose around with empty water guns before they get hit.

A video posted by Henry Lee (@clevermunkey) on

A video posted by Henry Lee (@clevermunkey) on
A video posted by Joel Wong (@onenonlyjw) on

Again, unless you're splashing yourself with water every time you watch the videos below (which I highly recommend because reasons), you won't be able to fully experience what Songkran is like unless you're physically there. I would suggest you start making plans for next year's Songkran festival.

A huge thank you to AirAsia Nee-san Ka Mei because of her caring spirit and deep pockets and she's totally not forcing me to write this for her and to the rest of the #AABCSongkranAdventure bloggers in Chiang Mai for making it such an epic one.

Seriously, in between getting wet and the Thai food (mango sticky rice!) this was probably one of the more amazing weekend retreats. 

AirAsia flies from Kuala Lumpur to Chiang Mai 2 times daily, and if you're already in Bangkok now and want to head over to Chiang Mai immediately after reading this post, you can do so because Thai AirAsia flies from Don Mueang, Bangkok to Chiang Mai 12 times daily. Hurry on to the AirAsia site now to get started. 


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