Song Kran

Song Kran, or the water festival, is Thai new year, which, just to confuse everybody, takes place from the 12th to the 15th of April.

It's the wild hot season celebration, when everything and everyone gets drenched in water and often plastered in flour too! For four solid days there are never ending water gun battles in the streets...

In the old days Song Kran used to move from year to year with the Thai Buddhist calendar, then in the time of His Majesty King Chulalongkorn it became fixed on the 13th of April, when the days & months were brought in line with the Western calendar.

As this is the hottest time of the year, it is also the dustiest, and so it was deemed that all Buddha images should be taken out of the Bot (Chapel) and washed and cleaned.

Today the images are paraded round the streets so that everyone can have a chance to throw some water over even the most sacred... like Luang Pho Phra Sai, with his head of solid gold (see right).

Nobody is immune from a good splashing, even the police and officials get thoroughly doused... so much so that I have frequently witnessed bedraggled uniformed officers hiding in our garden, having a breather from the never ending attacks!

The most famous of the water festivals is in Chiang Mai. But, theirs has become so large and, some say, ferocious that many people have started to look for kinder alternatives. As one of the government sponsored sites, Nong Khai now draws quite a number of travellers, for it's simpler, more authentic event.

One well known tradition is to have a sand castle building competition, and, as this is the time of the year when the Maekong presents us with a beautiful beach at Haad Jomanee, it is down to the stalls on the sand to see who can build the biggest and bestest castle!

There are beauty contests too... for men as well as women... though they all look like women!

So the best thing to do is go with the flow and join in the fun. Pictured right is Mik from Holland who enjoys it so much he's here to play every year... How his camera survived, I'll never know!