Monday, April 12, 2010

Happy Songkran!

It's funny but the older I get, the more Songkran makes me think of my childhood. Thailand's traditional New Year's celebration runs from tomorrow, Tuesday, April 13th, through Thursday, April 15th. Given the current unrest in Thailand I hope you don't mind my talking about a Songkran that happened many years ago.

I was eleven years old and my friends and I were roaming the streets of Chanthaburi celebrating the big holiday. Traditionally kids and young people throw water at each other on Songkran but wise merchants shut off their outside faucets so as to keep the water fights away from their shops. One of my older brothers, however, owned a coffee shop and he told us that we could have "all the ice we wanted."

Ice?!!! This was taking Songkran to an entirely new level! Little Anna and her girlfriends grabbed all the ice we could carry and started throwing it at our victims. As it turned out, ice hurts more than water and the boys with us quickly discovered that their victims were not shy about swatting young behinds in retaliation. But not the girls. We would laugh and smile and run away to throw ice at new victims.

I do not recall exactly how this happened, but we ended up riding in the back of a pickup truck throwing ice at soldiers. The soldiers didn't laugh but luckily for us they didn't reach for their guns. It wasn't until years later that I realized how lucky we were not to have gotten into serious trouble.

Mostly I remember that my first "snowball fight" was on Songkran when I was eleven years old. It has always been a special memory for me as I did not see "snow" again until I moved to Kentucky many years later!

But I have not had my ultimate Songkran water fight yet. That will come when I finally get to have an elephant on my side!

Water fighters with elephants on their team always win!