We are walking around Chiang Mai, Thailand — during Songkran, three days (April 13,14,15 this year) when things get a bit crazy. In this video, you can see two guys in colorful shirts walking beside the temple with huge water guns. People are having water fights all over town and these guys are ready.
We pass the Three Kings Monument — to the three kings who agreed to peace, founding the city of Chiang Mai.
Wat Phan Tao – people take photos inside. Songkran is like New Years Day — it involves washing the statue of the Buddha, honoring old people, being with family — but it also involves major partying and pouring water on people — everyone and anyone!
In the Prayer Hall, a man is blessed by the monk who ritually applies water. There are also rituals where they put water on the monks. This monk will later tie a string around the man’s wrist.
All over town, people are also applying water, sometimes buckets of it. It brings good luck to get soaked and there is plenty of good luck being passed out.
Some people walk around with super soakers — looking for water gun fights. Some stand beside the road, throwing water on everyone who passes. Some people ride around in the backs of trucks, throwing water at whatever targets they pass.
We approach the city temple.
There is a sign in front of the City Temple — women not permitted.
Inside there are murals within the City Temple — Karen waits outside.
Karen sulking in front of the City Temple.
Wat Chedi Luang – it dates back to 1441 CE — the oldest temple in Chiang Mai.
Scene from the Songkran festival — we are walking around, trying to capture the spirit of what is going on.
We eat lunch.
There is much to see — I am thinking about you young people. I wish you were here. Hot girls and handsome guys, lightly dressed for the heat, are walking around with water blasters, soaking each other.
Songkran is a party scene — but I don’t see any obnoxious drunks — just people having fun. Of course, we get soaked just like everyone else.
We go to the American consulate after the holiday ends and see the murals outside.
I am told that the young people in Thailand are less interested in the Buddha than their parents — but most males spend some time as monks — part of growing up, I guess.
I can’t help but think sometimes about how things have changed in Thailand over the years and how the nature of life for backpack travelers has changed. The backpackers (many, but not all) fly in and out by airplane.
Karen and I also flew into this city to avoid the long, long bus ride…and, in this place, we fell into a kind of temporary fantasy-land for three days. But….suddenly, life returned to normal for the normal people and the normal people returned to work. I hope someday you can join us — we ain’t normal!
The guy in the photo above is a meditator — sitting and focusing on his breath.