Songkran Thai Water Festival


Traditional Thai New Year, or better known as Songkran Festival is celebrated in the most fun way not only by the Thais, but also people from all around the world.  How big is the 3-day celebration? An estimated 1 million travelers, both domestic and international, are expected to pass through the country’s six main airports operated by Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT).  As you know, most of the professional therapists in Thai Odyssey are originally from The Land of Smile, we have collected all the information you might be interested or needed regarding the largest water festival in the world. Let’s splash it!

Wait
But first of all, let’s practice your Thai a little.  Since this is the New Year they are celebrating, why not we learn a phrase or two to wish them a great year ahead?  C’mon, let’s get into the holiday spirit!  Repeat after me: “sah-wah-dee pee mai”, it means “Happy New Year”.  However, nowadays you’ll be more likely to hear this “suke sahn wahn song kran”, which means “Happy Songkran Day”.

Songkran 101
The background of Songkran festival is far more religious. The word “Songkran” stemmed from the Sanskrit “Sankranta”, which means “a move or a change”, literally.  Water is the main element of this holy festival, to wash-down the negative beliefs and actions, plus bringing good luck and prosperity in the New Year.  However, the water fiesta which was once all about fresh starts, has evolved to a fun, refreshing and a must-join yearly water fight.  Splashing water at one another has become the no.1 attraction of the festive season.  Besides, it’s the greatest way to temporarily run away from the burning heat without anyone thinking that you’re insane.  After all, April is the hottest month of the year in the exotic land.


Gear Up For The Festivities
This is war!  If you wished to come home alive, you have to be ready.  Did I just sound so serious? Anyway, since this is the water war of the world, wouldn’t it be great if you equipped yourself with some practical tools?  Water guns, water cannons, water balloons, buckets, traditionally fragranced powder and even a truck that fetches the “attackers”, you name it.  Imagine that, from children to adults, everyone is fully equipped for the festivities.  It’s a water, water, water world, only it’s not a theme park but a kingdom.  Therefore, be prepared, form a team with friends and drench yourselves in the fun.

Songkran Major Hot Spots


Bangkok
– As the city that never sleeps, is surprisingly less happening during this festive season.  The main reason being most of the locals have gone home to celebrate this national holiday with their families.  Still, you’ll find the water fights happening in few places including: various spots around Banglamphu, Rattanakosin Royal Square, Phra Athit Road, Santhichaiprakan, Wisut Krasat, Khao San Road and Silom.

Chiang Mai – The largest and one of the most culturally significant city in Thailand, is well known for arguably the most fascinating Songkran celebration in Siam nation.  The celebration goes on almost anywhere, as long as a week.

Pattaya – No stranger to tourists and expatriates, this is an island surrounded by rice crops.  Thus, Songkran festival isn’t as simple as a New Year celebration but also the time of the year to look for a rain god.  Plus, parade and cultural events also take place at the same time. Swim wear is a must-have item!

Phuket – The largest island in Thailand, is another hot spot during Songkran festival.  Water guns, water cannons, buckets and barrels full of water can be seen anywhere.  If you are interested, you can always join the Thai New Year merit-making ceremony in the community.

Khon Kaen – The home of “Sticky Rice”, is one of the four major cities in Isan province, Thailand.  Over the years, Khon Kaen has up its game in celebrating the Thai New Year.  If you’ve experienced Songkran festival in the above said locations, this would be another option to fulfill your enjoyment.

Songkran Must-know

Be Protected – The first rule about having fun is to have the practical tools.  As mentioned earlier, arming yourself will be great since there’s not an option for not getting wet in this over-the-top celebration.  The best way to do it is to have at least one water gun, never let it out of your sight and always ready to recharge.

Be Waterproof
– Of course not you, I am talking about your gadgets and valuables!  It’s advised not to bring your valuables such as jewelry and timepiece with you or you’ll be busy protecting them than yourself.  As for other must-brings including phones, cash and wallet, a waterproof bag will do.  For girls who wears makeup, be sure you’re wearing a waterproof mascara.

Dress Right
– Since you know this is a water fight, I am sure you understand shirt and slacks, gown and heels are crossed in the checklist.  Guys are simple, a T-shirt, shorts and a pair of flip-flips, you are good to go.  For the ladies, make sure you avoid see-through clothes.


Be Polite
– Don’t try to splash the locals with water if they expressed their unwillingness of getting drenched.  As much as we want to have fun, we should remain respectful and only target those who are in the game. If you do not want to take part, smile and say “mai len kha” (female) or “mai len krup” (male), or just wave your hand and shake your head with a smile.

No Tuk-tuk
– Only if you have quenched enough for a day and wish to go back to your hotel room. Make sure you’re off the big roads and say no to open-air transportation. A taxi is your solution. And don’t worry about your well-drenched body and clothes, the drivers are more than happy to send you to your destination.


Have I Missed The Fun?
Well, sorry to say that you have missed it.  Nevertheless, don’t be disappointed as this event will be held annually.  So mark your calendar and join in the fun next year! In the capital of Thailand, the nationwide water war lasted 3 days, from April 13 to April 15. Moreover, if you wish to prolong the festivities, heading to Chiang Mai is a great idea because the locals celebrate this national holiday up to a week.

There is always fun to visit Thailand.  The delicious food, friendly locals, cultures and affordability and many more reasons for us to visit the country again and again.  And if you can’t be there as often as you want to experience the Thai culture, you can always visit us at Thai Odyssey for a traditional Thai spa time served by our professional therapists.

Moreover, either you are looking for our nearest outlet or interested in our price packages available, you can always visit our website at www.thaiodyssey.com. Or better yet, stay in touch with us through www.facebook.com/thaiodyssey.

 

Thai Language


Do you speak Thai?
Do you find it particularly peaceful when you listen to a conversation in Thai? Does language make the person who use it sound more polite or is it the people who are inherently courteous and when the language is spoken, it projects graciousness?

You would have read or experienced it yourself that the Thais are always smiling, pleasant, humble and patient. They laugh easily, speak softly and they treat you as if you are always the guest-of-honor. The expression Mai Pen Rai, which loosely means “never mind”, characterizes that the Thai people general focus in life is to “enjoy life – never mind”. That may summarize why they are always seem to be in a state of bliss.

For a nation who is so proud of their heritage and the fact that they have never been ruled by any Western power, it is not surprising that Thailand’s revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej insisted on the preservation of their very own usage of the Thai language.

On July 29, 1962, more than fifty years ago, King Bhumibol visited Chulalongkorn University to join the academicians in a discussion on the ways Thai words are used. He emphasized on the importance of using the language in its proper context and pronunciation. He is concerned of the overuse of foreign words that has influenced its authenticity. Even if the younger generation is to introduce new words into a sentence structure, it would be beneficial to master the Thai language first.

To increase awareness of the King’s utmost concern, and to preserve their language, the government has proclaimed July 29 each year, since 1999, to be National Thai Language Day.

Leading to the day where all Thai people will be practicing the proper use of the language, let us join in the fun by learning a few phrases ourselves:

Hellosà-wàt-dee

How are you? – sà-baai dee rĕu?

I’m fine – If you are male, say “sà-baai dee króp”. If you are female, say “sà-baai dee

Please to meet youyin dee têe dâi róo jàk

Good morning or evening – If you are male, say “sà-wàt-dee kráp”. If you are female, say “sà-wàt-dee

How much is this? – raa-kaa tâo rài?

Thank youkòp kun

You will always be pleasantly treated when you are in someone’s house or in a foreign land when you appreciate someone’s culture where it leads you to respect their customs and practices as well. One of the world’s widely accepted gesture which transcends any language you speak anywhere in the world is to smile. Then, the best way to travel is to master a few good phrases when you are in a country and speak the words with a broadest smile.

Happy National Thai Language Day 2014.

 

Water Water Everywhere – It’s Songkran!

The Thailand water festival, or Songkran, is a New Year celebration in the country.  Customarily, Songkran is celebrated with the belief that, with water, it cleanses, purifies and signifies a fresh start to everything.  As with Asian traditions all over the world, before the beginning of a new lunar calendar, people celebrating the Lunar New Year festival are often advised to wash away their past or ‘bad’ chi by spring cleaning their houses.

Religiously, to start the day of Songkran, there will be bathing ritual for the Buddha images with scented water.  The ‘blessed water’ that was used to bathe the images is now used to pour onto someone’s palms, especially the elders’.  This is a way of paying respect and it is believed to bring good fortune.

Over the years, however, the pouring of water has become the throwing or splashing of water in the streets.  People from all over the world gather in Thailand for the carnival-gala good-natured fun.  Thais even walk with pails and water guns, some will stand beside the roads with a hose and shoot water at people passing by.  In fact, because Songkran is celebrated in April, the water splashing does not hurt at all as it is the hottest part of the year in Thailand, getting wet is refreshing after all.

The word Songkran, in Sanskrit, means the passage of the sun moving from one Zodiac sign to the next.  There are supposedly twelve Songkrans each year, but the most significant has to be the sun entering the first sign of the Zodiac, which is the sign of Aries, the Ram.  The date was originally set by astrological calculations, but it is now fixed on 13 April, and Songkran is celebrated officially as Thai New Year’s Day from 13 to 15 April every year.

Songkran celebrations are organized throughout Thailand while some cities take it a notch higher with activities and events that run for a week or more.  If you want to be in the centre of all the happenings, do book your accommodation and arrive a few days earlier at places like Chiang Mai, Phuket and Bangkok.  These cities will be clogged up to full capacity in April.

3 ways to celebrate Thailand Water Festival with Fun!


1. Know that you will get wet – and drenched!  Have FUN and LAUGH anyway.

 


2. Waterproof your valuable electronic devices such as phones and cameras to keep them dry while you are being splashed.

 


3. Get a bucket, buy or get an empty bucket free.  If you like more fun, get a water gun – and start shooting back!

It’s all about getting wet and be merry.  When you are drenched, put on your biggest smile and make peace, just give a shout out: “Sah-wah-dee pee mai” (Happy New Year!) or “Suke Sahn Wahn Song Kran” (Happy Songkran Day!).

From all of us in Thai Odyssey, Suke Sahn Wahn Song Kran!