What is Songkran you ask?
I asked the very same question and got two answers from various people regarding the 13th of April.
1. It’s the Thai New Year according to the Buddhist calendar.
2. It’s the one day a year on Koh Tao where everything is shut and you get drunk and there’s an epic water fight on the streets.
Prior to this day we were advised to buy some water guns to use at Songkran. However, due to Songkran all of the stores were now charging hundreds of baht for cheap, plastic water guns.
We’re cheap. We refused to buy them of course.
So we woke up on this magical day of Songkran not knowing what to expect. We did wake up to a lot of screaming and laughing outside, and decided on several things; we were only going to wear our bathers, we were not going to take our phones or sunglasses in case they got broken, and we were going to fill up some water bottles so that we had something to use at least!
We gingerly opened our door and peeked outside. Nothing, except for that screaming and giggling. We started for the main road and rounded a corner, and were met with the whole team from the Roctopus dive shop. All wearing bandanas and wielding huge water guns. It had begun.
Basically we were peppered with shots from water guns from all sides as we walked down the main street. I was so pleased with our decision to ONLY wear our bathers and board shorts. We were definitely going to be soaking wet. All day. Local Thai and Burmese families stood outside of their houses and threw buckets of water over us as we walked past with our measly water bottles. Some locals even ran up to us and smeared a paste of talcum powder on our cheeks and foreheads. A blessing perhaps?
Seeing little kids shoot us with water guns and old people throw buckets of water was so much fun. We ended up near our dive shop with a bunch of locals and divers throwing water non-stop on unsuspecting tourists who were walking down the road. We had three big containers of water with a hose fed into it, and re-filled our water bottles constantly as we poured it on each other’s heads. I especially liked throwing water onto dry tourists, and giggling like a child as they tried to shield themselves and their belongings. Lionel, being Lionel, would also chase people and empty a whole bottle of water on their heads. When a whole group of us bombarded a local on a bike, he stopped, pulled out a huge watergun and starting shooting at us with ICE WATER. He had definitely come prepared!
We then headed to our dive shop, Sairee Cottage, where we had a huge slingshot and took it in turns shooting water balloons into crowds of people. We were also ambushed by the team at GoodTimes who came roaring up from the beach shooting at us. They then tried to recruit our team in an effort to boost their army. After a tiny bit of encouragement I also ended up pouring a bucket of water on a girl who was sunbaking on a deck chair. Haha, it was Songkran after all. Everyone was fair game!
Most of the day was also spent drinking salty beers in the water with hundreds of other people on the beach. One bar even had a giant water slide that ended in the ocean. The salty beers came from everyone jumping on each other and splashing salt water into the cans of beer!
All in all a very fun, surreal day. We did have a few casualties though, I was groped by an overly friendly local who was drunk in the water, we lost our house key at some point, and Lionel got a few scrapes from the water slide. It was crazy fun and exhausting; thank god it only comes around once a year!
Here’s a video shot and edited by our friend Amanda, it pretty much sums up the whole day.