Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a gentle, honorable tradition of sprinkling water on friends or pouring water over the hands of the elderly while wishing them the best in the New Year… Oh, never mind that!
Songkran – at least in this part of Bangkok – has become the biggest water gun fight in the world! Oh, yes. So big that the size of the water gun fight in Bangkok yesterday was documented as a new record in the Guinness Book of World Records. In one area of Bangkok, 3,471 persons with water guns fired their water guns at each other continuously for ten minutes, surpassing the old World Record set by Spain in 2007 with 2,671 water guns firing for five minutes.
As seen in the photo above and more thumbnails below, there are water guns of every size, shape and color imaginable held by men, women and children of all ages. Some are hand-held pump models. Some are sophisticated automatic water weapons. Some need to be refilled virtually every time they are fired, while others are continuously fed from backpacks (camel packs) filled with water. There are snipers sitting on the backs of motorcycles. There are trucks with barrels of water in the back and teenagers throwing water on everyone. There is no pretense of civility – ANYONE who ventures outside the gates of the compound WILL get wet. Most of those who are on the street after 5 PM are wearing their swim suits or old jeans and t-shirts. Most of those who passed by our gate were already dripping wet.
At the Guest House, we are only one block away from the center of the festivities on Silom Road. If you are outside, the noise is incredible. Last night, the police came by twice to maintain order. From our room, we heard the sirens and the bullhorn. But, for the most part, I think, everyone is having a great time. About ten percent of the participants are foreigners, for the word has gotten out. At any rate, if you are into water gun play – and I seem to remember a couple of men at our Church Picnic some years ago who were – this is the place to be tonight. Perhaps next year!