With Songkran – Thailands annual water festival- only two weeks away, I couldn’t help but get out of Australia and head over to Phuket. Two years ago I popped my first Songkram cherry in Koh Tao and for someone that frequents festivals around the world, I can tell you the Thai’s are freaking festive. I’ve never had so much fun with water guns, beach parties, military style ambushes with buckets of water and a heroic dog that joined our crew of Kiwi’s & Irishmen as we roamed the streets in scooters, doing drivebys, getting dunked and involved in a constant sensory overload.
What is Songkran?
The Songkran festival (Thai: สงกรานต์, pronounced [sǒŋ.krāːn]) is celebrated in Thailand as the traditional New Year’s Day from 13 to 15 April. The word “Songkran” comes from the Sanskrit word saṃkrānti (Devanāgarī: संक्रांति), literally “astrological passage“, meaning transformation or change. It coincides with the rising of Aries on the astrological chart.
Perhaps thats one of the reasons I love this festival so much, I’m an Aries and I’m all about space. To be honest I can’t think of one good festival I’ve been to that hasn’t felt like I’ve entered into an astrological passage of sort, but the uniqueness of this one is its purely off energy and vibe.
If your childhood was anything like mine you might remember being a kid and running around the garden with neighbours, shooting each other with water guns, that sorta carry on. This festival takes that sentiment, that carefree anarchy and it Thailand’s the heck out of it. EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the country is involved in a giant water gun fight, and the beach clubs which on a quiet day outdo any Sydney venue on their best night suddenly go into beast mode.
At the last Songkran two years ago I very vividly remember standing ‘guard’ atop the main entrance of a beach club with my partner in crime a crazed Irish scholar/thespian turned tour guide and literally dousing the shit outta anyone that tried coming up the stairs. We had groups of people trying to ambush us from all sides, and when water levels became too low, we dove off the side onto slip and slides which slid us all the way to the beach to refill our guns. The sheer surrealism of the day is that every living creature seemed to be happy.
My best friend of the day was aforementioned mystery dog who just appeared in the morning, grinning from ear to ear as we were getting ready and jumped onto my scooter – our Songkran spirit guide! Even when we occasionaly lost our canine friend in the midst of a water fight melee or getting a round of cocktails in, we’d leave the venue and our companion would emerge and jump atop one of our scooters. Comfortable as Larry he was as we drove through the streets doing playful drivebys. People are onto it as well, you think you’re about to get in a freeshot and suddenly someone’s mate with a bucket of icewater dunks you from behind. The most refreshing social interactions I’ve ever had in a foreign country.
For this year I’m hitting up SongKran in Phuket, which from the week I’ve been here feels like Koh Tao but on a much larger scale. The clubs are on a much larger scale, and I’m genuinely starting to jump out of my skin with excitement. It’ll run from April 13-15th, and through a friend we’ve found accommodation at the BelleCose Guesthouse which is setting up a vantage point directly from their patio bar with perfect views to douse everyone passing along in the street. If you’re in Thailand – or even Australia – get your ass to Phuket, come join the BelleCose Songkran squad, there’s a couple rooms left, it’ll be beer slushies for breakfast and an astrological passage directly after.
For abit of a laugh check our pre songkran ‘training’ video below:
And our post songkran recovery at a little known beach on Phuket.