Thailand Fling - 18...Wet and Wild in Bangkok
Bangkok, Thailand April 2023
Wet and Wild in Bangkok (or Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom to give it its full name!)
We had a few hours to kill in Prachuap before making our final journey by train back to Bangkok, but trying to stay dry as we dodged buckets of water being hurled from the roadside and hiding from van loads of youngsters wielding water guns, proved quite challenging!
The Songkran Festival is the equivalent of New Year and is the biggest (and wettest) celebration on the Thai Calendar. Lasting three days and usually taking place at the hottest time of the year, it traditionally represents “purification” – washing away the previous year to make way for the new.
Thais perform a series of activities such as cleaning their homes, bathing the Buddha statues with bowls of water, and pay respect to their elders by cleaning their feet with scented water. However, over the years the watery celebrations have evolved into massive water fights, pool parties and general mayhem.
Arriving quite late in Bangkok after a 5-hour train journey, we decided to have an early night and save our energy for the next few days. The weather was still searingly hot, but we were guaranteed a good soaking to cool us down, wherever we went the next day.
Huge stages had been set up around the city, hosting DJs from around the world and the party atmosphere was electric. We took the MRT to Siam Square, where the aptly named Super Fluid festival was in full swing.
Spirits were high and everyone – including officials and policemen – were joining in the fun. I couldn’t imagine anything like this being so good humoured in Europe – where the addition of alcohol would undoubtedly take its toll. The Thais really don’t need to drink to have a good time.
After drying off in the adjacent mall over lunch, we got soaked all over again on the way back to the hotel, thankful we’d packed our phones in the wet bag.
After a few hours rest and recuperation, we set off for the Train Night Market, a buzzy outdoor setting specialising in antiques, vintage clothing and live music. It was located on the site of an old station and the buildings were home to a fascinating collection of classic cars and bikes and other curiosities. More like a museum than a shop, and we spend an interesting couple of hours wandering through the different areas until the heat got the better of us. Surrounding the stalls were dozens of bars hosting live bands and most even featured an inflatable pool outside for those still in the mood for a soaking!
We were off to Silom Road the following day, where massive water battles were in full flow down the length of the street. This was the first year since Covid that these celebrations have been permitted, so everyone was making up for lost time. Great fun!
We headed over to the Grand Palace later that afternoon for some less frenetic and more traditional ceremonies, but to our disappointment the festivities there had finished for the day.
Feeling pretty exhausted that evening – the heat really takes it out of you – I treated myself to a food delivery and enjoyed a wonderful Lebanese meal which I ate up on the rooftop lounge.
The next morning I’d booked a pedicure at a local salon – my feet really needed it after 6 long months of walking miles and climbing through forests and up hills, wearing only sandals and flip flops. Anyway, it was Songkran and I probably qualified as “elderly” by now, so was entitled to the traditional foot bathing!
I borrowed Ian’s trainers for my last expedition to buy some presents and souvenirs at the Chatuchack Market that afternoon. Billed as the world’s largest weekend street market, they weren’t kidding as the stalls seemed to go on forever. Pleased with my purchases and my haggling skills, I rewarded myself with a final Indian meal that evening, before watching the football at a nearby sports/live music bar. Watching West Ham finally hold Arsenal to a draw, to the strains of Dire Straits songs sung in Thai, seemed quite appropriate!
After a long lie-in to prepare for our long flight home the following day, I managed to fit in one last foot (my tootsies were being well and truly pampered) and shoulder massage.
The time had flown over the past few weeks, and as much as we had enjoyed our adventures, we were both looking forward to staying in one place for a while, with home comforts, familiar surroundings and slightly cooler weather!
BUT…we are looking forward to returning in November (hopefully avoiding the rain!) to discover the delights of Northern Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia…watch this space.
What had we missed the most?
Wine and hummus (me)
Potatoes and Guinness (Ian) – I’ve suggested he goes to Ireland next time!
Knives (it’s not always easy to cut food with a spoon or fork!)
Soft beds (the Thais are masochists where seating and bedding is concerned – but sadists where massages are concerned!!)
Car and scooter drivers who don’t have a death wish
Pavements that you could actually walk along
Friends and family (of course…!)
What had we learnt from our travels?
Thais are amongst the most welcoming, accepting and good-natured people in the world – Thailand is not called “The Land of Smiles” for nothing.
Thais on the whole, rarely get going until after 11am and even then, go about their day in a languorous way – in this heat, who can blame them?
Thais rarely ever walk anywhere
Thais rarely eat at home and full kitchens (with ovens) are almost non existent
Thais eat an awful lot of rice
Green curry is hotter than red curry
Thais like to build temples at the top of very steep hills
The use of plastics is causing huge damage to the environment – we have to stop!
We need to pack lighter – we took far too much “stuff” and lugging huge bags around became quite a chore in the end
Thailand gets VERY hot in March and April!