Celebrating Songkran in Bangkok

New Years-eve in the UK usually consists of either a house party, paying an extortionate amount to drink at a bar you go each week or freezing to death outside whilst watching fireworks tumble into the sky as the clock strikes 12.

Pretty tame eh?

When I was travelling on my RTW trip, I was so excited to see that I would be in Bangkok during Thai New Year (Songkran). A few days prior I had holed up in a smart hostel in Silom, a place where I’d heard would be the centre of the action. I met a travel blogger friend at the hostel and on the first day of Songkran we walked outside the hostel totally unprepared for what was about to happen.

Cold water rushed up my nostrels and in my eyes the second I went outside. As soon as I gained my vision I could see three young Thai children all aiming at us with big, powerful supersoakers in their slender arms.

So this was how they celebrate New Years in Thailand?

Songkran is a three day holiday from April 13-15. It’s essentially one big water festival and the streets of Bangkok hault to a standstill for three days whilst young Thais have the ultimate water fight. The water represents  purification and the washing away of sins and bad luck.

However for many Thais and travellers it’s just three days of Chaos!

And no-one is safe! 

I saw a family check into a hotel across the road. As they struggled with heavy bags they were soaked from all angles and a cheeky boy even ran across and smeared thick clay across the fathers face.

I’ve never seen anyone look so angry!

Songkran is not the time to get pissed of at people soaking you with water. Be prepared to be soaked for three days straight so make sure you check in to your hostel at least the day before to avoid unwanted attention.

If you are prepared, you will have an incredible time. One you will never regret and a chance to bond with the funny, cheeky and smart Thai people.

Super soakers

The first thing to do is choose your weapon. We chose the biggest and most expensive super soakers we could find and I think It’s a sound investment. Having a big water gun means that you can soak people far away. Handy when people are squirting you from moving motorbikes, buses or pick up trucks! (Yes I don’t think there is any health and safety in Thailand!).

An adorable Thai boy with his massive super soaker!
An adorable Thai boy with his massive super soaker!

Clay

Many people in Thailand wear clay on their faces daily as a form of sun protection. During Songkran it’s tradition to wipe a small amount of clay on peoples cheek and wish them a ‘happy new year’. My first encounter with clay was when an extremely attractive Thai guy slowly smeared the cool clay across my cheek in Silom. After that I was hooked and would wipe clay on any attractive passers by!

Covered in clay and absolutely soaked = a sucessful day of celebrating Songkran
Covered in clay and absolutely soaked = a sucessful day of celebrating Songkran

Buckets

Oh the dreaded buckets! In Thailand buckets are usually associated with drinking large volumes of alcohol at night in Khao San road. During Songkran some cruel souls pour whole buckets of ice cold water over unsuspecting victims. In the heat of the day this can feel heavenly but as the sun sets it feels absolutely horrible. Just remember to get them back with either your supersoaker or clay bucket.

 

Khao San and Silom

Khao San Road and Silom are the epicentres of the celebration . The roads close and the areas become unrecognisable for three days as thousands of revellers pass through the streets. There is such a party atmosphere, loud dance music plays and there are stalls selling alcohol and water top ups at the side of the road. In Silom there were Thai girls in skimpy outfits performing on stage (They still got soaked!) and a Thai fire truck absolutely blasted gallons of water everywhere in the street.

It really was crazy!

Craziness on the streets of Khao San Road
Craziness on the streets of Khao San Road
The streets are absolutely packed!
The streets of Silom are absolutely packed!
Thais selling extra water, and also preying on unsuspecting victims!
Thais selling extra water, and also preying on unsuspecting victims!

What to wear

You will get absolutely soaked the moment you step outside so wear something that isn’t see through and that won’t fall down when wet. Buy a plastic dry bag for your phone and money and make sure that it’s always locked. I have very few photos of the celebration because water is thrown in your face literally every couple of metres. No-one is safe from the fun, even if you are holding your expensive camera in your hands.

Where to Stay

I would reccomend staying near the action in Silom or Khao San Road. The buses run infrequently during Songkran and it’s extremely hard to get a taxi or tuk tuk. If you do end up getting one you will pay an inflated price.

However it’s extremely fun to soak people from the safety of a bus or a tuk tuk, until you stop at a traffic light and everyone turns and soaks you (and the driver!).

Oh Thailand!

In the evening

As the sun sets, less water is thrown but you may still be someones target so still keep your valubles in a dry bag. As the sun set we headed to the Gay area of Bangkok to enjoy a few beers and a cheeky water fight with ladyboys and tourists. So much fun!

Songkran is a must see event for people travelling through Thailand. Although I had an amazing time celebrating it in Bangkok, I hear that Chiang Mai and some of the islands celebrate just as hard! Just remember to have fun and lighten up for three days. No matter what you are doing, you will be a target!

Our friends waving to us from across the street!
Our new friends waving to us from across the street!
Soaked, covered in clay and with my new Thai friend who wears balloons down his top, because, why not?
Soaked, covered in clay and with my new Thai friend who wears balloons down his top, because, why not?

 

 

Have you celebrated Songkran in Thailand? Is so what did you think? Did you celebrate in Bangkok? What’s your weapon of choice?

Seven months of Travel: Summary and Review

kohrong

My Seventh month of travel was a very different month for me, I travelled very fast compared to normal but it was one of my best months yet!

My month kicked of in the gritty seaside resort Sihanoukville. Despite looking worn out Sihanoukville has a hidden charm. It’s extremely cheap and you could easily live off $5 a day if you budgeted very hard!

I stayed at Utopia, little did I know that It’s known as the scuzziest place in Sihanoukville. You can get dorms for as little as $1 a night if you don’t mind sleeping on a mat on the floor in a line with other people. I opted for the ‘deluxe’ dorm that had air com and a private bathroom. I think it’s called the deluxe dorm because it’s the only one without bedbugs though….

The nightlife in Sihanoukville is amazing! You can get free drinks from most bars, cheap beer and ‘buckets’ for as little as $1! (They are cut open Sprite bottles instead of actual buckets though). They also sell laughing gas, something that I had never seen before. I loved my nights in ‘Snooky’ but there wasn’t much to do in the day.

One day I took a ferry to Koh Rong where a French child projectile vomited all over himself. This was quite a scary sight, not dissimilar to the exorcist. Luckily as soon as I stepped off the ferry all my worries went away.

Koh Rong was my idea of paradise!

A handful of bars, guesthouses and restaurants are dotted along the pristine beach. The sand is white and so fine it looks like talc. I spent three very content days and nights in Koh Rong.

My Cambodian visa was running out so I took the overnight bus to Bangkok. As always the bus ride was very eventful and I was spooned by an Asian man and nearly fainted at the border because I was suffering from severe food poisoning. No one helped me even though I made it clear that I was struggling. Traveling solo makes you realise that no one really cares about you and you have to be strong and look after yourself.

Bangkok was heaven after months in poorer Asian countries. I spent my days buying a whole new travel wardrobe and drooling at all of the beautiful makeup and toiletries that I could buy! I was also in heaven thanks to my beloved 7-Eleven! I went on a day trip to the floating markets, the bridge over the river Kwai and I also visited tiger temple where I got to stroke actual tigers!

It was then time to experience the Thai islands, something that I had been looking forward to for all of my trip! My first island was Koh Samui, despite being quite touristy and full of couples and families I had a fantastic time thanks to meeting a great group of friends! The nightlife in Koh Samui is legendary!

Drinking buckets on a night out in Koh Samui

I travelled to Koh Tao with a group of friends that I met in Koh Samui. I fell in love with the island instantly, it’s so chilled out. The town area is small and pedestrianised. I spent the first few days eating delicious food (They sold Spanish omelette! yay) and relaxing on the pristine beach.

On September the 9th it was my birthday! I normally hate my birthday, It’s a day of reflection for me and I hate getting older. Luckily I have so much to be thankful for at this time in my life. I spent the day sunbathing in my new bikini, I had a massage and enjoyed Mexican food and cocktails in the evening!

Life is good!

It was then time to face my fears and complete my PADI qualification! I’m normally such a wimp when it comes to the sea but I challenged myself, faced my fears and gained my PADI open water certificate! I will write more about scuba diving in a future blog post.

It was then time to head to Koh Phangan and tick the full moon party off my bucket list! I spent my time there in a 40 bed dorm and once again met some lovely friends. It was amazing to see the population of the town swell as the full moon party neared. The pre parties really put me in the mood for the main night, the full moon party!

The actual full moon party could not be more different to how I celebrated the last full moon. At the last full moon I was at the retreat and spent the evening chanting around a fire and throwing rice in to it. This month I was partying in neon on the beach with over 20,000 other people! There were skipping ropes of fire, ‘death slides’ and loads of crazy sights to behold. The pre parties were such good fun too. The mood was amazing and watching the sunrise was one of the most beautiful moments in my life.

 

 

I rounded up my seventh month of travel by taking a night boat, bus and ferry to the beautiful island of Koh Phi Phi where I got to tick another item off my bucket list!, I will tell you more about my time there in my next monthly round up!

In conclusion month seven was one of my easiest months of travel. I made amazing friends which really does enhance the travel experience. I spent the month doing what I like to do best, partying and lazing on the beach. I also spent most of the month in my favorite Asian country, Thailand. It’s so easy to travel here and the food is amazing!

Next month I will be leaving my beloved Asia and heading to a whole new continent, AUSTRALIA! I’m kind of scared and apprehensive about leaving Asia, it’s been my home for seven months after all!

Total countries visited=2, Cambodia and Thailand

New travel wardrobes bought= 1, I replaced nearly every item of clothing during a crazy shopping spree in Bangkok! I had actually forgotten how to shop believe it or not…

Number of times I was spooned by an Asian man on a night bus= 1, on the night bus from Sihanoukville to Bangkok.

Modes of transport= Night bus from Sihanoukville to Bangkok then a variety of buses and ferrys as I island hopped.

Night ferry’s taken= 1, from Koh Phagnan to Surathani. We had to sleep on tiny thin mattresses lined up on each side of the boat (It actually reminded me of the dorms in Utopia…). The guy next to me actually put his leg over me as I was sleeping…

Number of buckets imbibed= 13, I had a very fun time on the islands, the hostel owner even gave us one free because it was his birthday!

Bucket list item ticked off= 2, to attend the full moon party and visit the beautiful Maya bay in Koh Phi Phi.

Lessons I have Learned= Have fun and enjoy the friends you make on your travels whilst you can. You never know when you will meet a group of like minded people again.

Number of 7-Eleven toasties consumed= 36

Number of 7-Eleven iced lattes imbibed= 10, I had to give them up because they started giving me heart palpitations, so tasty though!

 

 

 

Two months of Travel: Summary and review

petronas1= toers, Kuala Lumpor, Malaysis

It’s hard to believe that I have been travelling for over two months now. In the real world two months is a long period of time but when travelling the days and weeks blur in to one. It’s so refreshing not having any responsibilities and to just do what I want each day! (For most days this involves a beer or two…)

I’m currently in Koh Chang, an island on the East coast of Thailand. It has a very chilled out hippy vibe and quite a good night life! I’m staying in a (very basic) bungalow right next to the sea and I fall to sleep each night to the sound of the jungle. Worlds away from the craziness of Bangkok!

So where have I travelled to in the past month?

Singapore- I spent my first three days in Singapore visiting the various museums and art galleries and just soaking up the culture. The history of Singapore fascinates me and how it’s a perfect mix of East meets West. After a while Singapore started to feel quite sterile. Although I loved the city I longed for a more ‘Authentic’ travel experience. Singapore was a perfect city but I feel that it’s best visited with people. It was very romantic.

 

Malaysia- I didn’t know what to expect with Malaysia. I actually forgot that I would have to go through Malaysia to get to Thailand at some point so I didn’t really research it. I needn’t have worried. Malaysia was very easy to travel through and very different to what I was expecting.

Melaka and Penang were very charming cities with beautiful quaint architecture and ‘hipster’ cafes and bars.

Kuala Lumpor was no where near as exotic or exciting as I was expecting. I loved seeing the Petronas towers but I wanted to leave as soon as possible

During my time there I met some amazing people and fell in love with Malaysian food, especially mee goreng!

I explored the West coast but I can’t wait to explore the East coast, I hear that it’s such a beautiful place and so different to the West coast which I found quite commercial.

 

 

 

 

 

Thailand- I’ve now been in Thailand for over two weeks and am loving the Thai people. They always seem to be giggling or eating! My kind of people! I hope to learn more Thai during my time here and maybe volunteer at a school at some point. It will be good to have more structure in my day.

I celebrated Songkran in Bangkok which was just out of this world! I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

I also had some crazy (Hangover 2…) nights out and experiences in Bangkok, the city really stole my heart and I now class it as one of my favorite cities in the world. (After my beloved Liverpool of course).

 

 

Total countries visited= 3, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand

Languages attempted= 1, a small amount of Thai. I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t even attempt Malay but everyone just spoke English to me. I will learn some for when I visit the East coast!

Mosquito bites= 1064 (approx, mostly from having to shower outside here in Koh Chang)

Boxes sent home= 1, I sent one box of clothes that I don’t wear and souveniers back home which weighed 3kg! My bag is a lot lighter, phew.

Modes of transport= Overnight train, bus and ferry. The standard of the buses seems to be decreasing the further North I go, I can’t imagine what the buses are like in Laos….

Pizzas consumed= 0, Haven’t I been good! I’m trying to eat mainly Thai food and avoid snacks at the moment. I went a bit overboard with Western food in Malaysia and Thailand.

Beaches sunbathed on= 1, lonely beach in Koh Chang which must have the shallowest water in the world! It’s literally a foot deep really far out!

New clothes Aquired= 2 dresses in Bangkok, 1 Chang vest and 1 Malaysian style top from Melaka.

Lessons I have Learned= That it’s very hard to be ‘vintage’ when travelling! It’s so hot that you sweat loads and in the bungalows where i’m staying now there is no mirror or sinks! Seriously!

To do list=

I need to research volunteering options in Thailand and work out where I want to go next.

I also want to go trekking in the Jungle here, now that would be an experience and some well needed exercise!

What do you think of my second month of travel? Should I have given Kuala Lumpor more of a chance? Where should I visit next in Thailand?