We really lucked out with timing our trips. Songkran is a celebration of the lunar New Year, celebrated in (among other places) India, Singapore and Thailand. Woah buddy, I knew that New Years was going to be a thing, but I had no idea how MUCH of a thing.
Outside the hotel while we were out and about there were people politely squirting everyone with water from water pistols. Some people had buckets, and some were piled on vehicles in a way you'd never see in the western world (safety concerns, what?) and were squirting people with water as you went past. It all seemed very good humoured and polite.
We found out later that throwing of water is a very traditional thing, and is meant as a symbolic washing the bad away.
Well. All of the bad was well and truly washed away that day! We ourselves wandered down Si Lom Road which had been closed off from traffic that day. Traffic wouldn't have been able to get down there anyway, because of ALL THE PEOPLE. There must have been hundreds of thousands of people down that road. We wandered down not even a quarter of the road and it was PACKED all the way down.
There were stalls of people selling all sorts (food - how I love 10 Baht Pad Thai!! Chalk, so you can be marked with a blessing, water pistols, ice water for your water pistols, clean water for drinking). There were firetrucks blaring music and water into the crowds. And then there was the people. All of the amazing, wonderful, incredibly polite people.
I've never been in such a huge crowd where everyone was sober. If this had happened in New Zealand or in London or wherever, at least half the crowd would have been off their faces and rude, or arrogant or belligerent. This crowd? SO LOVELY!
It was actually phenomenal. I've never experienced such a well behaved crowd before in my entire life. Everyone was sober, everyone was happy and dancing and smiling. You moved slowly along with the crowd (cause there wasn't anywhere else to go or any other speed to get there at) and as you went people would squirt away with their water pistol at you, and you would squirt back. People would politely touch your face or arms or whatever with a smile and a handful of chalk as they walked by and you'd be blessed. Two seconds later someone else would dump ice water over the crowd and your face would be clean again. The day was warm, so you'd shiver with the ice water but after a moment it would be fine.
It really was wonderful. At one point there was a troop of marching boys, shirtless with whistles and batons moving through the crowd. Everyone stopped and moved out of the way so there was a path in front of the troop. We all stopped to watch them go by. No one jeered, or sent insults or anything. Instead everyone was delighted, and cheered as they moved off into the crowd. Loved it.
After a good few hours we were positively soaked to the bone, happy and tired. It was impossible to get home via the metro, and there were no taxi's because they couldn't get through the crowd. So instead we hired a scooter, me and Zee sat behind the driver. It was positively the most dangerous and ridiculous ride I've ever been on. Neither Zee nor I had helmets, Zee didn't have anywhere to place his feet and so was holding them up (in which his feet hit both the exhaust pipe and the spokes of the back wheel). We even went on the motorway for a bit!! It was well insane. Still, all the blessings of the day paid off and we got back to the hotel safe and sound.
The whole experience was almost unbelievable. I'm stoked that we timed our trip perfectly so we could go.
Next up... Japan.