Daily Archives: April 12, 2010

Highlights of Songkran 2010 in Samut Prakan

These are some of the pictures of the Songkran activities that I will be joining in Samut Prakan this week. As you can see there is a lot going on during the traditional Thai new year and not all of them are to do with water throwing! Though, of course, water fights are the most fun AND the most difficult to photograph. The first main activity took place yesterday which was the Songkran Parade through town. I have already shown you some pictures of that.

On the morning of 13th April, local people in Samut Prakan will be going to the city pillar here at 7.30 a.m. to make merit by giving alms to monks, and pouring rose scented water over Buddha images and the hands of elders.

One of my favourite places to go during Songkran is Ancient Siam (Muang Boran). They have quite a few cultural activities going on this week and I will be going there to take pictures.

Another place with activities is The Erawan Museum, the home to the giant three-headed elephant. I hear also that the weekend floating market at Bang Nampheung will open specially this weekend for Songkran activities. So, I will probably go and check them out.

Another event for Songkran not experienced by many foreigners is “chedi sai”. This is where the local people come to their local temple to build sandcastles and take part in competitions. According to tradition, they are bringing sand back to the temples that they may have inadvertently carried out on the bottom of their shoes. But, these days the sand is provided by the temples.

Another interesting event at temples this week is called “song nam phra” which is basically pouring water over the monks! Really you should be gentle with them.

On Friday 16th April, in Phra Pradaeng, there will be a Miss Songkran Beauty Contest in the evening. A highlight of my week and an opportunity to get some good pictures!

The best Songkran Parade in Thailand is undoubtedly at Phra Pradaeng on the afternoon of 18th April. Very popular with local people and tourists. If you go, then as a foreigner, you will certainly be in a small minority. But, be careful, you will sure to get very wet! I will definitely be there.

At the end of the Songkran Parade they release birds and fishes at a local temple which is definately a great photo opportunity not to missed! I will be blogging and tweeting about all these events live this week on my moblog at www.MyThailandBlog.com and my twitter account @RichardBarrow. Also visit www.paknam.com where there are many more pictures, notes and maps for all these events. Have fun and a safe Songkran 2010!

Start of Songkran 2010

You can trust the Thais to carry on with their festivals despite the troubles in Bangkok. The evening of Saturday 10th April 2010 was a dark day in the history of Thailand with at least 21 people killed in running street battles between the Thai army and red shirt protesters. I was there earlier in the day (see my moblog at www.MyThailandBlog.com) but decided to go home as darkness fell. It is never a good sign when the army are out on the streets of Bangkok.

Early the next morning, I was still in shock of what had happened while I drove to the Erawan Museum in Samut Prakan for the start of the Songkran Parade. To be honest, I wasn’t in the mood for taking pictures of Songkran, but the Governor was scheduled to go there and so I had to go. This is now the second year in a row of red shirt protests disrupting the Thai traditional new year celebrations. But, Thai people are very resilient and will carry on with their planned activities regardless. It was like that last year with the water fights in Bangkok only being delayed by a couple of days.

So, if you have just arrived in Thailand for the Songkran festival, don’t be worried that everything is cancelled. The festival is continuing. The reds themselves have also stated a few times that they will play Songkran in Bangkok at the protest sites. However, I am not sure that you should attend those events. Authorities have said the Songkran fun on Khao San Road has been cancelled. However, I cannot see that happening altogether. People will still be out on the streets this week throwing water.

In Samut Prakan, the Songkran festivities were kicked off at 8.30 a.m. on Sunday morning with a grand parade of about ten floats that went from The Erawan Museum to the Ancient Siam via Samrong and Paknam. Leading the two hour long parade was the Governor of Samut Prakan and various other VIPs. At the Ancient Siam they took part in traditional Songkran activities such as bathing Buddha images with rose scented water and also sprinkled water over the hands of their elders.

Songkran really starts tomorrow on the 13th April, but I won’t be surprised to find people splashing water on the roads today. If you are in Samut Prakan this week, you will find some interesting Songkran activities at both Erawan Museum and Ancient Siam. Then this weekend, there will be a second round of water fights and parade in Phra Pradaeng. Full information on our local news magazine www.paknam.com.