The World’s Biggest Water Fight

I’ve found a promising solution to my biggest weakness as a writer –  I’m not good at being concise and limiting myself to my thumbs seems to help.  (“You write on and on,” one Vietnamese friend said after asking for the link to this blog.)

I’m writing this post from Tikhedhungga, a tiny village in the Nepali Himalayas where I’m trekking this month and my phone and camera are the only tech I brought with me. (All I’ve taken with me on the five day trek is a small day pack). In the near future I’ll share my photos of Nepal but for now here are some shots of Thailand’s New Year (Songkran), the country’s most important holiday.

 

Traditionally, at Songkran people poured water over the heads of family, friends and neighbors to wash away the misfortunes of the past year. Over the years this custom has evolved into a giant water fight, especially in Bangkok and other major cities, and boisterous revelers soak each other with large water guns, which I was dismayed to discover are often refilled with ice water at numerous  refilling spots in the main areas of the festivities.

Needless to say bringing a camera to the world’s largest water fight is out of the question so while I was really looking forward to experiencing the festival for the first time I had no expectations that I could photograph it. I was delighted to discover though that inexpensive waterproof phone protectors  are sold everywhere during this festival.

In a sense these photos are possible because of the global affliction of mobile phone and social media addiction – wherever I am in the world lots of people cannot be without their phones! And thanks to some ingenious Thai entrepreneur and a factory in China there’s a solution (which costs only $1.5O). (The ability to write this post from a village in the Himalayas is another sign of our dependence on our phones – many of the streets in Kathmandu are unpaved and the air is choked  with dust, but up here in the Himalayas, at least so far, the 3g and WiFi are strong.)

With far from ideal photography conditions – my four year old iPhone inside what’s essentially a glorified zip lock bag – here are my best photos of the mid April Songkran festivities.

It’s no surprise that this festival is popular with children…
…but it brings out the kid in everyone. In fact, in the more crowded areas there are relatively few children, probably because it can be a bit raucous. Quieter streets and neighborhoods offer plenty of more family-friendly ways to celebrate.

Many participants wear Hawaiian shirts or costumes. The above photo is from a Songkran party at a gay bar my friend and I stumbled upon.

Children at a refilling spot. Did I mention ICE WATER!?

(Above three photos) Some water guns are attached to water tanks which are usually worn on the back

During the festival many streets vendors sell supplies – water guns, smartphone protectors, goggles etc.

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