Happy Songkran!

Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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Flag of Thailand  , Chiang Mai,
Friday, April 13, 2012

Charlotte graciously invited me to stay with her when I returned to CM for Songkran, however with the roads closed for the kick off parade, getting transport proved to be a challenge. Finally after much coercion one songthaew driver figured out a way to deliver me downtown. It was a pleasure to see Charlotte again and spend the weekend together.

We started this Friday the 13th evening with Shabbos dinner at the CM Chabad. Coincidentally it was the last night of Passover and an opportunity to have a matzah and charoset sandwich. Post dinner I introduced Charlotte to the Couchsurfing community where 50 or so people gathered. Some attendees arrived in drag, some made plans for the next day's wet fest and others engaged in religious discussion with some young American evangelists sent here on their church mission.

The next day before throwing ourselves into the war zone of Songkran, Charlotte and I had a peaceful visit at one of the many temples. The monks taught us how to make already perfect lotus flowers even more beautiful by folding back the petals.

It is such a pleasure to spend time with Charlotte whose zest for life is contagious. Witnessing her ability to take genuine interest in everyone she comes in contact with and thoroughly be in the moment was nearly as effective a lesson for me as attending a mediation retreat.

As soon as we exited the Temple, we were in the throngs of Songkran. We proceeded to walk towards the mobs gathered at Thapae Gate. However, clearly marked "Falang" aka foreigner and armed with a mere couple of wimpy water pistols, we had little defense against the ice cold buckets and rocket launchers drenching us from all sides. The fact that it was in the high 90’s with 100% humidity actually made the freezing ice water a welcomed delight.

Regardless, it became clear to us that the best position to fully engage was to either stay stationed at a storefront with access to hoses and garbage pails, or better yet be among the caravan of pick-up trucks driving the perimeter of the moat. On a mission I secured us an invitation in the back of a truck with these lovely natives. Although they spoke little to no English and our Thai vocabulary is limited, we still managed to communicate just fine. Our mobile hosts generously offered use of their powerful weapons, thirst quenching cocktails and unlimited supply of ammo. We must have spent the large part of four hours laughing and playing with our new friends.

Standstill traffic is created by the hundreds of thousands of trucks, songthaews and scooters crawling along the moat, making it common to be at war with the same neighbor in the next lane. You can only hope that your water is colder than theirs. Those with the most trash pails and baby size pools are the most equipped, since it is all about easy access to water containers with capacity to hold 20lb bricks of ice. Seriously, people sell ice along the route.

Even though you welcome the ice cold water to shield you from the blazing heat all day, once the sun begins to set you wish for a dry moment. Far from home, Charlotte and I were ready to call it quits. We relished in the joy of the day thrilled to have had the opportunity to experience the true nature of Thai New Year with the locals.

The good thing about the festivities is that come night time the water throwing seizes and it is safe to walk outside. That night we met up with Five, a bright young Thai woman, originally from Chiang Rai, currently living and working in CM. Having lived previously in the States, she speaks fluent English. Newly licensed, Five drove us to Nimmanhaemin area where we found a delicious Spanish tapas restaurant and indulged in a gourmet meal. 
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