April 15th, 2005

3rd day of Sokran at ChangMai

I know there are times when no updates have been made. But then, hunting for dental clinic and getting teeth examined and fixed isnt really subjects that I liked to talk about.

On the other hand, this Sokran water festival in ChangMai is a different matter.

I am fairly dry now but I came in this cybercafe dripping wet at 5pm this afternoon. I had not expected to be that wet. I thought I walk around CM city to see how other places would be like. I even went without my pail thinking that would have marked me as a non combatant.

CM city consisted of the old city with a moat surrounding the 4 sides of a square. When I first got here in 1969, CM was withing the moat with city walls around it. It since spread to 10 times or more of the size that I first known her as.

It did not matter even away from the moat and within the old city. Huge buckets were every where with people young and old with little pails ready to throw water at anyone, and if not, at themselves. The water was piped from their homes or offices and a lot cleaner than those from the moat. Unless you lurked about in shady corners, regardless if you carry pails or water blasters, you were a legitimate target.

Pickups and tuk tuks (motorised 3 wheelers serving as taxis) weaved about with huge buckets of water and groups of squealing girls and screaming guys to do battle with each other and those stationed on the ground. I was caught in cross fire. As the day was very sunny with temperature at about 35 C, I love the cross fire of icy cold water. Music was blasting away from huge speakers together with the cymbals and noise makers banged about on the pickups and tuktuks and screams coalased into Sokran music anthems.

I was only moderately wet and at last, I reached the moat on the Western side of the city. That area was only moderately less frentic than the area at Tah Pae gate (main gate at Eastern side). The local families and groups of friends staked out picnic areas on the grass verge adjacent to the moat. Every one of those groups were armed with huge buckets that were filled from the moat and with blocks of ice floating in it. As if they could not get wet enough, they jumped into the moat as well.

Groups of food and drink vendors plied their trade to make sure combatants had enough energy to throw water at one and all. The pounding of music was more intense at the moat side. It must be heard to be believed. Squeals of girls were loud enough to drown out the music. I never seen such a collection of wet T shirts ever before.

Today is the last day of this great water festival. The noise and energy was as uninhibited as when the day it officially started. Unofficially, it started on last Sunday when water was thrown about by those who could not wait.

The moat became a huge long swimming pool. I had often looked into the moat before even the unofficial start. It was tranquil brownish murky water with little gouramis, tiger barbs darting about on the surface nibbling at crumbs thrown in. I wonder if the Sokran festival will just abruptly switch itself off on Saturday leaving the moat back to the fishes swimming in it.

I walked the side of the moat which felt to be about 2 kilometers long at each side. I deigned to buy another pail using a plastic water bottle to splash back at others. That was a matter of form even if the quantity of water was a lot less than that of a pail. It is the thought that count.

I then got back to TahPae gate. I left the crush behind and got into this little cybercafe. Screams and squeals of pickups, trucks and tuktuks came in through the door as I played chess on the Internet. Enough of me dried off and I got on to update the blog.

BBC had on their website some photos that can give you an idea of Sonkran. URL is below