I have frequently made mention of the fact that Khao Sok has been my favourite travel experience so far; an overnight stay on a lake 150 metres deep in places, caving through a subterranean wonderland complete with a waterfall, lake and spiders that look like the creatures Mad Eye Moody performs the Cruciatus curse on in HP4, and hiking through the jungle amidst trees so vast and knotted you can only imagine. Not only my favourite travel experience but one of my favourite life experiences.
However, I’m not sure it cuts the mustard compared to Songkran.*
Songkhran is Thai New Year and they celebrate it in serious style. It is a three day long, nation-wide water fight. It is mayhem.
Imagine stepping out of your hostel into a war zone. Everyone you see is against you, including your friends; constantly living in fear of being under attack and the ammunition is flying everywhere. Except, apart from bullets, it’s water. Water pistols, super soakers, buckets of ice water, river water, freshly bought water from 7/11… and the attack is a friendly one.
I’ve never seen anything like it. Everyone is in good cheer and it brings people together. Snipering out a random local tradesman in the crowd connects you. No language needs to be shared apart from the non verbal communication of “you got it coming now”.
Crossing the battlefield to the other side of town (a walk which should take 20 minutes) easily takes you an hour as pick-up trucks with ten people in the back pumping dubstep corner you whilst you nip down a side alley in an attempt to avoid the carnage on the main streets. Eight ice buckets over my head at once was the result of that attempted escape.
Rounding a corner to see one shop owner literally spraying people with a fire hose and nearly knocking them off their feet, being grabbed by a Thai teenager saying “hello” whilst empying an entire bucket of river water over my head and being singled out by a 7 year old girl whilst I was trying to apply suncream, spraying it off quicker than I could get it to rub in.
Songkran was epic. Indescribable and so much fun. I don’t plan on missing another one, ever.
Ps. I’m not joking about the river water. Wear your shades and keep that mouth closed. People do get sick.
*it totally does, it was just a different experience and as I write these post in my sleeply little riverside hostel in Pai, I’m still reeling from the Songkran adrenaline <3.