Ah, it’s that time of year again….
The time when unsuspecting pedestrians get squirted with super-soakers, when gangs lie in wait on street corners to throw buckets of water over passing tuk tuks, and when, frankly, it’s not safe to go outdoors.
Yes, it’s Songkran; Thailand’s (and much of Southeast Asia’s) annual water festival. And it’s a lot of fun, as long as you’re not wearing a suit.
But what will Songkran 2015 be like under the new Thai regime? One of the key messages the government is pressing home is a focus on old-fashioned values, or “Thainess”, as it’s being termed.
With this in mind, authorities are trying to return Songkran to its traditional, cultural and spiritual roots, which apparently do not include a six-pack of Singha and a three-foot super-soaker.
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has already warned revellers that bad behaviour won’t be tolerated, by announced its “4NOs” for Songkran: “no nakedness, no nudeness (which are surely the same ‘no’), no powder and no alcohol”. And no fun, by the sounds of it.
So will these new rules have any affect? Well perhaps, in the main Songkran areas like Silom Road. The no powder ban is welcome, as the horrible stuff gets in your eyes, and despite a couple of high-profile incidents, there is very rarely any nudity (despite Thailand’s reputation, it is still a rather conservative place). It’s the ‘no alcohol’ part that will be most difficult to enforce, but people will probably just drink outside the designated Songkran zones, then go back in once they’re finished.
So Songkran 2015 probably won’t be too different from other years. What is likely to dampen the celebrations more is the fact that rainy season appears to have come early this year, and somewhat paradoxically, there is nothing better to wash out a water festival than a rainstorm.
Anyway, I for one will be tucked up safely at home, away from the watery mess outside. Having done seven years of Songkrans, one more squirt of ice-cold water might just tip me over the edge.
But whatever your Songkran plans are, stay safe, enjoy yourselves, and whatever you do, remember the 4 NOs!