It’s coming, that holiday everyone knows as ‘Songkran’. The Thai New Year is celebrated around the 13th – 15th April, every year. Thousands of tourists and locals flood the streets donning aloha Hawaiian shirts and armed with buckets of water or ‘Super soakers’. While Thai celebrations are certainly not done by halves, we must remain aware of our own safety, the unfortunate side to any holiday the line between fun and danger can be blurred in the blink of an eye. However, if you remain aware and make smart decisions there is no reason that this can’t be one of the best holidays you will ever celebrate. Merely remembering to use common sense will be just about all you need to keep yourself safe throughout the festivities.
Road safety is the number on cause of disaster during Songkran festival. Being safe on the road cannot be stressed enough. Do not drive a motorcycle during this time and be aware that riding a Tuk Tuk or Songtao during this festival is a certain invitation to get soaked. To put things into perspective according to the Bangkok post during Songkran 2010, across Thailand 3802 people were injured in road accidents and an additional 361 people died. Remember that drinking is also a fundamental part of this Thai festivity, do not drive drunk. Also if you suspect your Tuk Tuk or Songtao driver to be under the influence of alcohol it is not taboo to ask him to pull over.
Crowds can get thick during this festival, and I’m sure by now you have realized that no-where is safe from the water fight. You WILL get wet, drenched even. So make sure that your Valuables are left at home, if it is essentially that you bring things like your phone, camera, money, cigarettes, then 7-Eleven sells handy little plastic purses that are the right size for a camera, some money and your key.
At the risk of sounding like your mother, take care of your skin. You will get soaking wet and on top of this be in intense heat all day long. Ensure that you are covered head to toe in a high factor, water-proof sun cream, top up throughout the day to make sure that you do not get sunburnt. Also take care of all your cuts. With the excitement of the day, you are almost guaranteed to arrive home in the evening and find a few mystery nicks. Add on the fact that you will be wearing soggy clothing all day and you are on the fast track to rashes and infection. Take meticulous care of anything to do with your skin, gross as it may seem, they will be far worse in the morning.
Girls this may not be the right day to wear that new white tube top. To blend in with the locals, wear shorts, flip flops and the famous Aloha shirts on top of your swimsuit. Also be aware that sometimes during festivity men can become a little… Handsy. Whether it is grabbing you to soak you or rubbing talcum powder or clay over you, if this happens get away as soon as you can. To avoid these situations stay with a group and don’t wonder off alone.
Most of all remember this is still Thailand. While Songkran may seem like anything goes, keep in mind that you are still a stranger in a strange land.
With all the safety precautions aside, above all else, remember to have fun. Songkran is about bringing in the New Year, washing away the old and bringing in the new.