Songkran is a holiday in Thailand celebrated April 13-April 15. It is the traditional New Year in Thailand, and is when the sun passes through the constellation Aries. (Follows the solar calendar.)
During Songkran the city shuts down, people go home to celebrate with their families, and the country has a giant water fight! The water fight symbolizes washing off the sins of previous year, and building good karma for the following year. (I have also heard its to welcome the rainy season that farmers are desperately waiting for, so they can plant their rice crops.) People will sometime rub chalk, or powder on each other’s faces and that is to add blessings onto that person.
Chris LOVED Songkran when he lived in Thailand. He was able to celebrate it twice and both times he was in the Isaan. (Eastern Thailand.) And since his first time playing Songkran he has wanted to go back and play. The first time we went back to Thailand we went in July so we missed Songkran. When we were looking at plane tickets to go to Thailand being able to go during Songkran was what I think finally convinced Chris we should go.
Bangkok and Chiang Mai are pretty popular places for foreigners to play Songkran. We wanted to be able to play with some friends and go to a more traditional place to play so we decided to go to the Isaan, where Chris had played before. We missed the first day of playing since we had just landed in Thailand at night time, and we went straight to the hotel to crash.
The next morning we woke up and we drove to Roi Et. We found a place to change into our Songkran clothes (bright floral printed shirts. Everyone dresses in bright colors) and we went to the lake/park in the middle of the city. We got there late morning and it was pretty slow. I was afraid we had missed all the festivities, but luckily we were just early. We started walking around the park and we saw a bunch of kids playing in these HUGE inflatable pools of water. There was a fire truck pulling water out of the lake and filling up a second pool. The kids thought it looked fun so they started swimming with the other kids. It was so fun hearing Thai kids yell my kids’ names across the pool. Ryan made some friends and after we left he told me he didn’t think he would make friends in Thailand, and it was fun even though he couldn’t understand them. He said he thought they were racing.
We took a break from the pool to go potty and find some food. (Our first experience with Thai food!!!) We found some Gai Yang (Grilled Chicken) and sticky rice and oval-tine. Ryan LOVED the chicken and so did Lillian. I was so happy that the kids found something they liked!
We went back to the pools and this time the party was really getting started. There was so much loud music, people dancing. Tunnels full of sprinklers spraying water everywhere. More people throwing water and rubbing powder on people’s faces. After swimming some more we walked through the tunnels of water and got snow cones.
As much fun as we were having in Roi Et we still wanted to make it to Yasothon that day, so off we went. We made it to Yasothon and found a hotel, then we went back out for more Songkran!
This time we walked down the street from our hotel. This street was blocked off to slow down traffic (Cars were still allowed to drive, but just slower?) Some people befriended us and let us share their water so we could splash people driving by on motor bikes and in trucks. It was so fun playing with our new friends and seeing my kids so excited to splash people (each other and themselves included!)
Lillian was getting tired. (There were barrels filled up with warm hose water, and barrels that had bags of ice in them to make them freezing cold, Lillian had been splashed with freezing cold water a time or two too many!) So we called it a night.
The next day we took the kids to a grocery store that had set up a huge inflatable water park for kids in the parking lot. The kids loved swimming in the pools, going down water slides, and playing in the bubbles. Ryan made more friends here as well. Again, it was so fun hearing Thai boys yelling Ryan’s name across the pool. There were older kids helping my kids get up on the water slide. It was so fun watching!
After the kids played in the pools we met up with our friend Pee Nam and we played Songkran with her. Lillian made a friend here and both kids loved splashing their friends, each other, and trucks and motor bikes that were driving by. It was a lot of fun to play and it was even more fun watching my kids play!
I loved hearing Chris talk about how much he loved Songkran while he lived there. I knew he wanted to go back, but I wasn’t sure if we actually would ever make it back for Songkran. I am SOOO Glad we made the effort to go. Playing Songkran was so much more fun than I thought it would be. The kids loved it even more than I thought they would. We would love to go back for Songkran, who knows maybe it will be a yearly tradition!