I didn’t know last January that I’d get the opportunity to celebrate new year twice, but rather than a boozy do with my favourite people in the world, in the wintry Lake District, wood burning fire keeping us toasty, Spotify playing all our (not)guilty pleasures. Thai new year, Songkran, was celebrated a little differently, sans booze and with a group of people we’d never met before. According to our guide book “it is a time of cleansing, renewal and loading up pickup trucks with beds armed with super soakers to douse other water warriors”. The wetter you are the more luck you’ve had bestowed on you. And something to do with talc. As Abe and I waited for a tuk tuk at the roadside, the security bloke outside a hotel approached and happy slapped us with talc, it was all very polite and non threatening. Near to the National Stadium today, I observed grown men fling buckets of water at passers-by, this is why people wear Songkran (Magnum PI style shirts) ‘splash me!’ I can’t imagine this taking off back home amongst the grumpy Harry Cross types (apologies for the old Brookside reference) or the rough dog owners, with chains for leads. Coming to think of it, I’m not sure the tanned and talloned would indulge either. Though it would be nice, a giant water fight in Britain, without the dullard health and safety bods warning us against slipping and infection.
A couple of days ago, we 4 donned our Songkran shirts and attended our first ever pool party. There’s not much call for pool parties in Wirral, Yorkshire or Manchester, unless we just mix in dry circles. As we left the comfort of our building, stepping into battle, the kids armed with Angry Birds weaponry, James commented: “I’d rather a water festival than a fire festival”, couldn’t agree more. I’d be inclined to avoid a ‘wind’ festival too. Prior to this he moon-walked from the bedroom into the living area, referring to himself as ‘fly’ – the Yorkshire man who doesn’t do fancy dress.
In Bangkok, at the end of every hotel carpark driveway, there stands a uniformed/walky talky chap. They all love our kids, salute them, tickle them as they pass, go all gooey and rush to help us cross the busy road. Today was slightly different, I think the walky talky men were saying “check out these dudes, will be passing your corner in 5, 4, 3, etc”. Each corner we turned, in our bright shirts and self-conscious grins, we were greeted by laughing security dudes, who called on to the next one. Paranoia? Maybe so. I had been thinking a lot about being approached by MI5 at the party, targeted as the next real life Bourne, still disappointed this didn’t come to fruition. I can fire guns, I can speak a bit of French, did Latin at school, and I’m always meeting people for the second time who act like they’ve never met me before (you know the types) so I’d fade into shadows quite naturally. Moving on.
I confess to having pre-conceived ideas about this party. It was at the home of my blind play date, and would be attended by expats, Embassy ones. I pictured kaftans, cricket whites, gin, large fans fashioned from tropical branches. I think my idea of ‘expat’ is based on The Raj mixed with Margo off The Good Life. The party was full of lovely people with offerings of cold beer, useful advice, and enthusiasm for our decision to move to Bangkok. The day culminated with a giant water fight, as much fun for the adults as the kids, and my trepidations were washed away with the old year.