Songkran Festival

Written by Travel

Posted from: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai is Me Stew. In the midst of the steamy, humid air, I bob and simmer like so many diced vegetables. The weather is heating up day by day as I get a preview of global warming run amok. We seem to be barrelling towards some kind of Pomeiian apocolypse and I am exhausted easily with less expended effort.

On the upside, we’re also barrelling towards SongKran, the Chiang Mai water festival. Between the 13th and 15th of April, Thailand’s hottest month, the entire city goes enthusiastically psychotic, jumping in canals and rivers, chasing each other around with water guns, and dumping buckets of freezing water on pedestrians from the beds of their pickups.

Certain Caucasian males have been heard predicting legions of white-shirted girls squealing and obligingly soaking their tops for viewing convenience. I goad them on, wondering how many 25-year-old women wearing cartoon bunny headbands and answering their Pokemon ringtones they have to see before the disappointing likelihood of Good Clean Fun sets in.

But good clean fun doesn’t appear to be important to everyone:

Before afternoon training sessions at the kickboxing camp we’re encouraged to go for a quick, 4-k jog as a warm up. My favorite route takes me off into residential backroads in the thickening jungle. Out there, among the banana trees and geckos, is a hut bearing a wooden placard, positioned near the eaves of the house to face the street . In merry paint it reads: “Fuck Freedom”. One of the other students at our gym expressed confusion as to weather or not this referred to “freedom to fuck” or “down with freedom”, but I was unable to clarify for him. In my imagination, some firey-eyed expatriot Viet Cong commando has put it up in defiance of the Western invasion he feels sure is inevitable, a solitary word of protest as the tsunami of Uber-Capitalism breaks over Asia. Unfortunately, most of the complaining about the west’s monetary influence is done through mouthfuls of Pizza Hut and Pepsi.

Ta for now.