Here, There, and Everywhere
Every year from April 13th to 15th, some Southeast Asia countries celebrate their own new year. Thingyin in Myanmar, Pii Mai in Laos, Chaul Chnam Thmey in Cambodia, and the most popular among them, Songkran in Thailand. Although they have their own version of “New Year” name, they have things in common when it comes celebrating their new year (especially Songkran and Pii Maii) : splashing water, bathing & decorating Buddha statue, and making sand stupa. The best place to experience Songkran is Chiang Mai in Northern Thai. Beside splashiung water & sand stupa, they have beauty contest and parade also. While in southern Thailand, releasing doves is a traditional ritual symbolizes peace and hope.
Based on last year’s experiences, i decided to go back to celebrate Songkran Festival in Bangkok. But this time, i brought my office mates and we stayed in Ibis Nana in Nana area. One thing that i didn’t realize about Nana, It is one of red-light district in Bangkok. So, this area is filled by Irish bar, sport bar, cafe, and adult entertainment with old farang & foreigner as usual visitor and khatoey & go-go girls as regular entertainer.
We arrived 1 day before Songkran Day but people already splashing water along Sukhumvit Soi 3 & 4, Nana (Thank God,we were using taxi from airport). Though, our hotel has tuk-tuk shuttle from hotel to BTS Nana Station, we rarely used it because some of my friends were afraid to get wet (insert “rolling eyes” meme here).
At 13th, we went to Khao San Area to celebrate with thousand people. Since Khao San Rd is a backpacker mecca in Bangkok, you’ll find people from any race, nationality, and color together celebrating Songkran by splashing ICED water to another strangers. Actually, splashing water symbolizes cleansing of the spirit and to pay respect to other but lately turns into water battle. And of course, it can refresh you from the heat and humid of Bangkok in April.
You can shake your “enemy’s” hand, give a hug, get a bottle of soft drink/Singha/Chang, or at least smiling back to your opponent after battle. That’s the spirit of Songkran. Pay a respect & togetherness. One girl (or khatoey?) gave me a bottle of coconut drink for free after i splashed her. Oh, how i love Songkran.
After spending a couple hours in Khao San Rd, we decided to go back to hotel using Tuk-tuk. The best part of using tuk-tuk is you can have a battle in the street with another tuk-tuk or local in front of their house!. And the worst part is when you’re stuck in traffic light…a dozen people will splashing water using bucket or water blaster. But it is fun anyway.
Songkran crowd in Siam Square is a little dfifferent from Khao San. Instead of backpacker and foreigner, you’ll have young and local teenager here. People celebrating Songkran in Bangkok’s main shopping area with music concert & bazaar. At least i saw 3 stages; in Siam Paragon, Central World, and Siam Square.
One more thing that i love about Songkran is those ubiquitous folk song. Those songs were played in BTS train, subway station, shopping center, airport hall, and everywhere. It is authentic and hilarious in the same time, especially the “songkrek-songkrek”-ish sound.
The most surprising thing about this 4-day trip in Bangkok is… i rarely met another Indonesian. In MBK, Nana, Siam, Khao San, Asiatique, or Chatuchak Weekend Market. It is quite funny because people IN Indonesia are so cynical and bitter about another Indonesians having fun in Songkran (Yes! Songkran! It’s not like we are flying Indonesia-Bangkok on daily basis). You didn’t think Bangkok is only “Gay epicentrum (Plaza Indonesia to Sarinah)” size or “Tempat gaul Medan yang itu-itu aja dari Sun Plaza ke Merdeka Walk”, did you?. Flashnews : It is 1.500 km sq (Jakarta +/- 650 km sq). Smooch :*