Many tourists from all over the world visit Thailand, especially Khao Sarn Road in Bangkok during April to take part in the water festival (Songkran) festivities. To those tourists who have been in action during the friendly yearly water fights, I am sure it was very fun. I thought so too until a few years ago, when I visited Myanmar during dates coinciding with Myanmar’s version of Songkran. The Myanmese called the water festival (Thingyan).
In Thailand’s version of the Songkran water festival, people loaded up tanks of ice cold water in pick up trucks going around splashing and drenching everyone who is within range all in good fun. Some like the picture above load water guns and ice cold squirt at you you are expected to retaliate with… what else, cold water of course.
Now this festival although coming from the same custom is celebrated differently in Myanmar. It is much more wild and spirited. The Myanmese authorities will build stages after stages called “pandles” on sides of main roads. Some of these stages will have live music bands, dances, gay models and bodybuilders on parade amplified by music blaring loudly from the speakers and PA system, others will be packed chocked full of people armed with wildly colorful hoses splashing tons of water on whoever wants the showers of blessings on them.
The Yangon ( former capital city of Myanmar) hotel I stayed in organized a tour of the city on the back of…..yup, you said it……pick up trucks with refreshment, water guns and large drums of ice cold water ammunition. This is certainly much more fun than the Thai version, especially if you bring your whisky along. The roads were flooded and water was flowing like small rivers.
So if you ever visit Thailand for its Songkran festival, then hop over to Myanmar to open a second water war front. A word of warning though, better book your hotel room or accommodation and air travel tickets early. The hotel rooms are always booked months in advance by fun loving tourists both in Thailand and Myanmar.
The festivities will usually last a few days every April. After hard day at play, do remember that Thailand is famous for its ancient Thai massage. Do get a skillful massuer to soothe those aching muscles after a few days of fun. You can even order a massage service from the hotels.