Mid-April in Thailand is home to both the country’s hottest and wettest week of the year, as well as the world’s biggest water fight. Every year, during the week of April 13th – 15th, the Buddhist New Year festival, Songkran, is celebrated and uses water to ring in the new year and cleanse the body and spirit to start the new year fresh. Whether it’s a water gun, bucket, cup or hose, during that week nobody is safe from the cleansing and cooling effects of the water being thrown throughout the country.
During my three and a half years in Thailand I’ve celebrated Songkran in the provinces of Chiang Mai, Krabi and Nan. Each one has been better than the next and have also been great ways to see how different parts of the country inject their own local flavor into the festival. One thing I’ve enjoyed about the progression of my Songkran celebrations is the trend to get less touristy and more ‘local’ with each passing year.
Chiang Mai and Bangkok are the epicenters of tourist celebrations and extreme chaos, yet for me, I’ve found that getting away from the madness and can be equally as fun as being in the belly of the beast. After thoroughly exploring Thailand, I can safely say my favorite place in the country is the central gulf coast province of Prachuap Khiri Khan. The quite seaside village is filled with kind people, beautiful scenery, fantastic weather and cheap and delicious food. So, to ring in the Buddhist New Year, I decided to skirt out of Bangkok and ride 285km south to Prachuap to see how the locals celebrate Songkran and what the water fights are like in this tiny seaside paradise.
Pulling into Prachuap the skies were clear and blue and the weather was piping hot, perfect for the looming water fight. On the morning of the 13th I was up early for a run along the beach and a big buffet breakfast to hold me over throughout the day. By the time I finished running the weather was cresting a tropical 31oC (88oF) and I was ready to cool off. Walking through town I stopped at the first 7-11 I found to stand in front of the air-conditioner and secure my weapon of choice, a single barrel pump-action water gun.
Upon reaching Monkey Mountain a few pickup trucks had already driven by and the sharp shooters in the back had properly soaked me with ice cold water. The cool water and laughter was just what the doctor ordered, however, even with my camera wrapped in 3 plastic bags inside my backpack I was quite nervous about it getting get wet. Strolling up to the City Pillar Shrine, near the center of town, the water battle intensified and I was the recipient of a motorcycle gang’s blasts of water and ceremonial green menthol paste rubbed on my face.
My initial thought for the trip was that a PowerKicK photo in the middle of the water fighting madness would be unbeatable, but I quickly realized after that encounter that the best idea might just be to find a dry PowerKicK location and leave the camera back at the hotel so I could enjoy the water fight with no worries. With only a few assassins lurking around, the City Pillar Shrine looked to be a suitable PowerKicK location before heading back to the room.
Setting up the camera, I waited for families making merit to pass by me prior to stepping into action. In-between short water battles I focused the camera and ran into position. When the countdown timer hit its mark I took a giant leap into the air. After a few attempts and a few snaps of the shutter the Songkran Water Fight PowerKicK was cemented in history. Totally satisfied with the PowerKicK photo, I took the camera back to the hotel and set out to re-join and enjoy the Songkran water fight!