Today is the Thai New Year, and they celebrate by throwing lots of water and putting wet flour or talcum powder on each other’s faces, although it ends up in your hair, in your ears and on your clothes! So yesterday afternoon, the younger children at House of Grace were allowed to play outside with buckets of water and hose pipes. They had great fun, and when we came out of the dining room after lunch they delighted in getting us soaked!
In such a hot country, and as Thailand is in their hot season, the kids don’t get cold and there is plenty of water available. And using water seems to me to be a good symbol of seeing out the old year and welcoming the new, the symbolism of washing clean and of new life, however, it wouldn’t work so well in the UK in the middle of winter.
However, they know how to celebrate, for in the evening we went in to the local town of Chantaburi with the older children in the back of a pick-up truck, loaded with a huge vat of water ready for the fight and 23 young people and us. The streets were heaving with people, and water was being thrown everywhere – so before we even left the truck we were soaked through to the skin. People had great containers either by the side of the road or in their trucks, and they threw water at anyone passing by on foot, in cars or on motorbikes, and others would come up and smear damp flour over your faces and wish you a ‘Happy New Year’, normally in Thai, but recognising we were westerners, some would speak in English but it also meant that we were more of a target, and as we saw only one other white face, Miriam and I were easy to spot! Even the fire engines joined in, either filling people’s water containers or firing their water cannons into the sky over the streets, and pumping water into some hoses which lined both sides of the road and had many holes aimed over the vehicles that went passed, and as there were many people out, one could only crawl along through this arch of water!
We have never experienced anything like it, and whilst some people were getting drunk, it was all very good natured and left Trafalgar Square celebrations looking quite tame in comparison, with street parties everywhere, especially when we hear that they continue such celebrations for the next 7 days – I think we will stay in this evening, soaked twice in one day is enough!
The one drawback was that we got back to our truck at 9.15 to head back to the House of Grace, but the town was gridlocked with parties happening whichever way you turned, and we didn’t get back until 2.00am. As we were heading off to the island of Koh Chang for a few days break, we had agreed to get up this morning at 5.30 as Kitisak, the Director of House of Grace, had said he would drive us here but wanted to get off early!
At least now we can rest and recover, for we are at the KB Resort, with a lovely beach chalet that Alan and Maelynn booked for us, overlooking an azure sea. Having set off so early we were here by 9.00am, and promptly the heavens opened and there was a very heavy and extended tropical downpour/monsoon. What is it about this time away, we have been to some lovely places that are known for their hot and sunny weather, but storms seem to have followed us around, so we are now hoping and praying for three days of sunshine before we head off to Bangkok on Sunday!
At the New Year celebrations last night, as we were walking down the street, we passed by an elephant with a man on it walking up the pavement the other way and no one batted an eyelid, except us! Since arriving at the island a few hours ago, we have seen quite a few as they are kept here for tourists to have rides, and two baby elephants were even brought down to the sea just outside our resort for a swim and a play as we sat and had coffee.