Songkran Festival: The Wetter, the Better!

Article excerpt

Imagine this scene: scads of families crammed into the back of pickup trucks, chugging along in bumper-to-bumper traffic and squirting water at other vehicles and pedestrians. The water warriors use squirt guns, super soakers, hoses, buckets, garbage cans and anything else they can get their hands on in order to disperse their liquid ammunition. Drive-by squirtings everywhere.

The wild and silly Thai water festival kicks off today until April 15. During this time, visitors should expect to become totally drenched -- and love every minute of it!

WATER MAYHEM

The most famous spot for Songkran revelry is in the northern city of Chiangmai, where thousands of foreign tourists join the locals for a bit of watery mayhem. The moat-like canal that circumnavigates the city's old quarter, serves as both a source of water for Songkran participants and an inner boundary for the route used by vehicles that continuously drive the circuit all day.

If you think you can escape the man-made showers by ducking down side streets, forget it: there will surely be a group of children waiting to ambush you! It's not until after sundown that the streets become clear of all water battles.

Conversely, the capital of Bangkok becomes pleasantly quiet during Songkran week, thanks to the large percentage of residents that leave the metropolis and return to celebrate the holiday in their home province.

Songkran marks the start of the Buddhist New Year. Most businesses pretty much grind to a halt during the festival period with schools, government offices and many shops shutting down.

Airports, bus stations and train stations are jammed with travelers. …