<![CDATA[Explore with Confidence - Songkran 2017 Survival Tips]]>Fri, 16 Feb 2018 02:25:19 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Songkran 2017 Survival Tips]]>Wed, 12 Apr 2017 03:01:51 GMThttp://nancychandler.net/songkran-2017-survival-tips1/songkran-2017-survival-tipsSONGKRAN SURVIVAL TIPS
1. Buy Your Water Gun in Advance

Don’t wait until the water wars begin as prices will skyrocket. Pop by any supermarket or mall to source at least two water guns per person in your posse. (Water guns break easily, and empty fast. Having more than one allows you to continue playing without having to refill every five minutes.) Look for guns with sling straps attached so you can carry more than one at a time. Test them in the shop if you can. (We once had fun testing several in a toy shop, sending staff scurrying back to their counters to grab their own guns and fight back!) If you wait to buy during the festival, check packaging before handing over your cash. (Crafty entrepreneurs repackage broken guns found lying on the streets in the original packaging for reselling.) 

2. Other Songkran Essentials to Go Get Early

Quality Ziploc bags in which to store your mobile phone, camera and any other personal items whenever you leave home (regardless of whether you are planning to play or not); larger plastic bags for carrying a towel and a change of clothing should you plan to visit anywhere with air conditioning (otherwise, you may freeze in wet clothing); large garbage bags if you’re having a house party (see below); paper towels and dry rice (see next page); and a Hawaiian shirt or two. A visit to the ATM and supermarket for food and drink before Songkran is also advised. 

3. Songkran may start early.

Although Songkran does not officially start until April 13 and this year celebrations are expected to be a bit restrained due to the drought, be aware that if you venture out onto the streets anytime from Wednesday afternoon, April 12, you may risk being set upon by posses of Thais with their buckets full, hoses aimed and squirt guns loaded. Office staff, shopkeepers, condominium security staff often get in on the celebrations early. Note: Do head home early on April 12. Traffic will be horrendous from 3pm on as many head to the airport or home.

4. Don’t Want to Get Wet?

Good luck. For those wary of water, when ambushed by a posse of water gun toting Thais, you can try waiing and politely offering your hands for them to pour water over, or your cheeks for a little powder, but there will always be that one who won't be able to restrain himself. Best you just stay home if you can’t see the fun in it all. In which case, make sure you have food delivery service telephone numbers on hand (see the directory to your copy of Nancy Chandler’s Map of Bangkok for listings). Just remember that forcing a food delivery guy out onto the streets on a motorcycle this week isn't the kindest thing to do, so tip well. 

5. Eager to Get Out and Play?

Dress to get wet. And covered in white powder (which may well still be coming out your ears for weeks). Secure all valuables in quality Ziploc bags, unless heading to the heart of the water wars (Silom Soi 4 or Khao San Road in Bangkok, or Chiang Mai’s Moat Area), in which case leave all valuables at home. Pickpockets are rife and extremely talented. Do not use tuk tuks or motorcycles to get around. Use the skytrain and taxis instead. Note that by the end of the festival, being in a taxi does not necessarily protect you from the posses unless you have dutifully locked all doors (we’ve been in one where the driver stopped to let people open the door to dump a bucket on us, all in great fun, of course). 

6. Songkran Etiquette and Safety Tips

Please avoid shooting water at moving motorcycle and tuk tuk drivers and their passengers. If someone asks you not to get them wet, please respect their wishes. Do not aim water guns at anyone’s eyes. Do not use ice water or powdered water in your water gun. Do not dump buckets or water balloons from high above the street. Take care when walking or running on slippery floors. Do not drink and drive. Do not let your friends drink and drive. Remember that others will drink and drive so please be especially wary on the road.

7. Planning a House Party?

Do not expect your house to remain a dry zone. Bag it accordingly. Move what you can into a locked room. Use huge garbage bags to cover all furnishings you cannot move. If you have pets, you’ll want to lock them away in a private room with food and water. Having a few clean water bins outside near a hose for reloading will prevent most guests from running through your house to use the bathroom taps, but know you’ll end up with wet, chalky footsteps through the house anyway. 

8. If Your Phone Gets Wet

Turn off the phone immediately, remove cover, battery and SIM card, wrap all in paper towels and either seek out the nearest fix it stall - they will be everywhere during Songkran - or bury the phone in dry rice and google WikiHow for further instructions.

9. Heading to Khao San?

While Khao San (see A4-B4 on our map) has traditionally been water war central for foreigners and Thais, this year authorities hope to limit the mayhem out of respect to the fact the country is still mourning the loss of HM King Rama IX. We suspect it may still be a bit rowdy in surrounding areas however. Assuming such, keep the following tips in mind:

Should you choose to be part of the mayhem, study Nancy Chandler’s Map of Bangkok's Khao San area map so you know your whereabouts (especially useful for those using taxis as you will be dropped off several blocks away from Khao San). Use the map to identify meeting points at either end of the street or down a nearby side street and set a time to meet up should anyone in your posse get lost. In recent years, the action on Khao San itself has been a bit tamer, with cultural shows staged and police barring entry to anyone with an extra large water gun or powdered water, and, gasp, alcohol officially banned on Khao San itself . The streets around Khao San remained serious battlegrounds however. And the pickpockets are real pros - again, do not take valuables. Eighty mobile phones had been reported stolen in just 4 hours when we last had to report to the police here for a stolen ID card during Songkran. Separating cash on your person is also a good idea. 

10. Other Water War Zones in Bangkok

Silom Soi 4 (C3 on our map) is always a full on party, with revelers ambushing new arrivals from left, right and center. Getting to Silom Soi 4 from Lumpini Park is likely to take 30 minutes to or more as revelers descend on the area. For those without a crew, join a bar enroute and you will have an automatic posse. Similar water wars will be waged within any red light area. Less mad will be CentralWorld’s Songkran Festival (the traditional foam parties and ‘water run’ off this year). Other malls plan more subdued events, hoping to attract those not really into all the water play. You still have to get there through the posses though. (Again, hopefully, this year will be drier because of the drought.) 

RCA (see J2-3 on our map) should be packed with young revellers... check newspapers, BK Magazine online, and Facebook for more special events planned by hotels and others, including the obligatory 'splash free' parties that happen every year (getting there is another thing).

11. Going to Chiang Mai?

Get your copy of Nancy Chandler’s Map of Chiang Mai. If you are heading out to the moat, you’ll want to know your way home. If you are heading to dinner, you might want to call ahead to make sure the restaurant is open and whether it is wet or dry (the map’s directory has recommendations and phone numbers to more restaurants and cafes than any other guide). Had enough of the water wars, and you’ll want to know the local food delivery contact details (also in the map’s directory). 

12. Heading Elsewhere in Thailand?

Don’t expect people to be more self-controlled in any Thai destination during Songkran. Do try to visit a local temple however as the festivals upcountry often see traditional Thai village fairs set up on temple grounds, complete with Miss Songkran contests, cheap food and games galore. Note: Hua Hin's starts as early as Monday, April 7, and Pattaya's goes as late as April 19. 


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Nancy Chandler's Map of Bangkok

Nancy Chandler's Map of Chiang Mai

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