Songkran 2012: Siam Square: On Day Two

Songkran 2012

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Songkran 2012: Siam Square: On Day Two…

Did you miss the first day of Songkran? Me too! The closer it got to 4pm on the first official day of the celebrations, the more I wanted to stay high and dry (so I never made it out of my PJs).

But seriously, getting drenched at Songkran is FABULOUS! And honestly? Between you and me? I should have done it sooner. Like, on day one of Songkran at least.

Mod’s Wild, Wild WET: To state that the Thais celebrate Songkran with water is a huge understatement. If you long for the carefree days of childhood (or if you are still a kid), don’t miss out on the Songkran ‘water wars’. Bowls (ขัน), containers (ภาชนะ) and large buckets (ถัง) filled with water are hurled at anyone who happens to be around, and lively water fights take centre stage on the streets, which are awash with carnival-like atmosphere. Some Songkran enthusiasts even resort to using garden horses and powerful water guns. (ปืนฉีดน้ำ)

Your presence at the festival is seen as an invitation to participate, so if you don’t want to get wet, stay clear!

And man oh man, did I ever get WET.

Songkran 2012

During the last two Songkrans I’ve focused on Khao San Road. Compared to Siam Square and other Songkran venues in Bangkok, Khao San Road is the easiest to get around via taxi. Incase you haven’t experienced it, unprotected cameras and flying water don’t mix. So hiding (mostly) behind glass was, to me, the safer, dryer bet.

This year I had the new iPhone with its snazzy camera and video capabilities so I opted for the Songkran party at Siam. On foot.

On Khao San Road there are a LOT of tourists and expats. I read that it’s something like 80%? 90? But not at Siam. At Siam there were a few westerners but the rest were Thai. I like.


Running the gauntlet of water guns was great fun. With my hands full of iPhone and water bottle, I chose not to have a pistol to retaliate. But next year? Next year it’ll be different… oh yeah.

Smothered behind a large crowd of onlookers was a live band. I couldn’t see them, but they were cranked up LOUD so I could hear them just fine. And every so often the crowd would stop spraying water to throw up their arms in rhythm with the tune. Fun.

Songkran 2012

Right outside the party gates you could buy powder, buckets, bowls, and beer. But I never once saw anyone actually partake. At Siam very few people had faces smeared with white paste and no one was walking around drinking alcohol. I missed the paste especially. Except for the water, it was not like Khao San’s Songkrans of the past at all.

I did take my Canon 7D but it never made it out of the backpack (too risky). Pity. Because while I love the ease of taking photos via iPhone, I felt no real connection with the scene around me. You can see it easily by comparing this year’s photos (above) with the ones I took last year (here).

So NEXT year I’ll be walking around with a waterproofed camera, a water pistol, and… and… what else?

Soaked from my head to my knickers, it was the coolest I’d felt all week. All during the ride back home I was grinning away, chatting excitedly about the wild and wet experience of Songkran at Silom.

“YEAH! That was fun! How long did I last?”

“Ten minutes”


16 thoughts on “Songkran 2012: Siam Square: On Day Two”

  1. Thanks Kris. A soft kind of craziness is the kind I’d go for. I seriously like the idea of less westerners and more Thais. In a way it’s because I feel more comfortable smiling/grinning/laughing with Thais I don’t know, male or female.

  2. Well, I went to see my friend in Soy 8, which is in a soy full bars with very loud techno music. You shouldn’t go there if you want to talk. So, I had to wait there for 2 hours and look at the farang described above before I could say something. Far outside the tourist area Pattaya looks different. A nice place to go to on Songkraan is Bangsean (about 45kms before Pattaya). It’s really crazy over there , but it’s a soft kind of craziness. There are also very few farang there. วันไหล in Bangsaen was on 16 and 17. In Pattaya it’s 18 and 19. Before or after these days there’s little activity. In Chonburi Songkraan flows down from one city to the other. In every city they celebrate and a different day. That’s probably why they call it วันไหล.

  3. Talen, I have a F2 135m that gets in close but walking back and forth instead of zooming in and out is a wee bit of a bother. It takes great photos though.

    Old clothes (or Hawaiian shirts) I’m fine with but I doubt I’d be able to see without my glasses, making it a moot point for taking photos. For me, it’s all about the photos… I like getting wet and having fun but I’m not interested in pure play.

  4. Cat, I won’t do Songkran with anything less than a telephoto lens…it gets me out of the action to some extent but I can still zoom up close and personal. You can pick up a 5 meter under water housing for about 100 bucks so that is definitely a good option but unfortunately they don’t make housings to accept a telephoto lens 🙁

    As for hats, they don’t keep the water off…nothing keeps the water off…throw on some old clothes, your glasses and get right into the action, there are a lot worse things than being wet all day.

  5. Kris, sounds pretty extreme. Pattaya does have high tourist areas where laws (and common sense) don’t seem to apply. But what about in the suburbs?

    Silom Square was subdued when I was there. It must have gotten crazier later on (at least in a few spots) because a teenager was shot and killed on the evening of the day I went.

  6. I had to go to Pattaya to see a friend that came from abroad. It was not very fun. They used high pressure water guns which can really hurt if they aim at your ear or eye. Also there were very few Thais joining the festivities there. Basically I just saw a mix drunken old fat farangs with beer-bellies and drunken farang bodybuilders full of tattoos shooting at each other with ice-cold water, with much too powerful water guns (which were collected by the police). Pattaya is not a good place to go until วันไหล, when the “normal” Thai people come.

  7. Next year I expect to see you in quick dry cloths…possibly one of those Hawaiian shirts, and packing a water bazooker. What else? Someone to do the filming for (of) you 😉

  8. Claudio, that’s wild that you have Songkran until Thursday. Party time!

    Finding a waterproof cover for my camera isn’t easy. I have a 7D and the cases I’ve found are smaller so I thought I’d look in the UK when I’m there next. I wrapped my camera in plastic but then couldn’t use the controls or focus properly.

    I’ll also look for HUGE goggles to protect my glasses from spray. Wiping googles would be easier (I’m thinking). I’ll look like a crazy women but I won’t be recognised… so… hah! 😀

  9. Why wait until next year, Cat? Although Songkran is already over in Bangkok, it’s just getting into full swing in Pattaya. Waterproff your camera, hop on over and celebrate with us! There is a German proverb: “Man soll die Feste feiern wie sie fallen” (You should celebrate the parties as they happen) and in Pattaya we’ve just been warming up for the last three days. Tuesday through Thursday of next week will be a blast!

  10. Thanks Martyn. The new iPhone does have a good camera and video (the camera is the reason why I waited for this one). In easy lighting conditions I can see what I’m doing but with water going everywhere, not so easy. There’s got to be a trick to it because I’ve seen some fabulous iPhone photos (practice?)

    At first I wasn’t too excited about celebrating Songkran but once I saw the first signs of the water festival I was roaring and ready to go! It’s great fun.

    I checked the videos and they are fine so I’m hoping no one else is having problems (hope hope hope).

    Happy Songkran to you as well 🙂

  11. Catherine – Your pictures aren’t too bad at all considering they’re from a mobile phone. Even if it is an iPhone. Quite impressive.

    I’ve enjoyed a couple of Songkran’s in Thailand but not for a few years. I really must try and make it for 2013.

    Your videos both started then came up with an error after about 7 seconds. I think it’s almost certainly my end that’s the problem.

    Happy Songkran.

  12. Talen, my problem is that I don’t ‘feel’ the subjects with a cheap camera and without I just don’t want to bother. I like getting up close to the action with an F2 and not many cheap cameras have that option.

    But there are waterproof covers for cameras and now that I’m no longer using my larger lens, they should fit.

    Ouch on the contacts! Drat. That can run into the big bucks. Ok. I’ll try a hat with a big bill next year… it’ll keep some of the water off.

  13. Cat, do what a friend did. He bought a waterproof camera ( 8mgx) for 3000 baht. It’s not a dslr but you won’t have to worry about it.

    Don’t wear contacts…I made the mistake of putting mine in yesterday and they lasted 1 hour…powder dumped over my head made sure the contacts came right out.

  14. Every year I keep promising myself that I’ll buy one of those camera covers but this time I’m serious. Getting WET this year was WAY too much fun. I don’t ever want to go back to hiding in a taxi or on the skywalk.

    But what to do about the glasses? I can’t wear contacts… but I might give it one more try.

    The Thais I met were really sweet – they seriously drenched me (and I loved it – laughing all the way) but as soon as they saw my iPhone they were careful. I didn’t notice westerners joining in (most must have been in Khao San or Pattaya).

    Happy Songkran Talen. And may you have a speedy internet from here on in 🙂

  15. Cat, great pics and video. I worry about my camera as well. I have it covered and taped up with 5 plastic bags with only the lens exposed…then I wrap that in a further 5 bags and place in my plastic lined pouch for storage while walking.

    I watched a guy yesterday with a camer and he was holding it up above his head as if to say ” don’t get the camera wet” of course, everyone just saw it as a target!

    I’ve found that the vast majority of Thai’s won’t get me wet when they see me taking pics but the falangs will go out of their way to try.

    Happy Songkran Cat…sorry it took me a bit to get here but my internet speed is set to crawl at the moment.


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