Chiang Mai

 
Saturday April 13th

 
      Very very full-on water fighting in Chiang Mai, buckets, big water pistols, thousands and thousands of drenched people. This is the Songkran Festival, the Thai New Year. New Year's day is on the 15th but people start throwing water a couple of days earlier in the town and earlier still in the country. (Some water was thrown at the minibus even on the way up to Laos, and children were throwing plenty of water at each other in Huay Xai). Now you cannot walk anywhere without getting wet, so you just buy a big water throwing device (bucket or water tube thing) and go for it. Superb fun. There was a long Buddhist procession through the town, up to the biggest temple. The idea is to throw some water with special things in it onto all the Buddhas. The guys looking after the Buddhas were getting a bit too much, but clearly it's the same every year.

 

How to celebrate Thai New Year (it's over 40 C !)
 

 

A bucket of ice water for the guy at the back
 

 

Water everywhere
 

 

Plenty of canal water too
 

 

More water
 

 

Sacred water going to and from the Buddha statues
 

 

Dancers in front of the Buddha going to the main temple
 

 

Everyone gets wet, all day long for three days
 

 
Sunday April 14th

 
      I've been travelling now for 6 months and loving every day of it. Life's alright, Angelina Jolie, of James Bond and Tomb Raider, is in town for the next few weeks making a film, about Cambodia. (We're hoping for the extras people to come round!)
      Other than that, today is exactly the same as yesterday, but without the procession. Still superb fun, but by the end you are thinking perhaps enough water, this is for one year only! A great food night market in the evening with tables everywhere in the road all the way (1 km) up to the big temple.

 

Children dancing in the street market in the evening
 

 

The Royal Guesthouse with swimming pool where I have been staying, £4 a night
 

 

Where the chickens live at Om's house
 

 

Some of the chickens
 

 
Monday April 15th

 
      Went over to Om's house early in the morning while it was still possible before the water throwing bagan. At lunch time we all went out in the back of a pickup to visit Om's relatives in Lampun and areas around Chaing Mai. A very impressive and physically demanding day, we gave almost as much as we got, with a huge water container with us in the back of the pickup. It was incredible how outside almost every house, presumably in the whole of Thailand, there were children throwing water at all the traffic. It's quite something to be drenched with half dustbin sized buckets full of ice water again and again! But superb fun too. We were on the roads for about half an hour between visits to all the houses where Om's family lives. Slept for 13 hours after getting back to my room! Absolutely impossible to take any photographs, but you get the kind of idea from yesterday's action in Chaing Mai! I don't think we'll be doing this again, but a great experience. [26 April - There is talk of it being banned in the future, over 500 people are killed each year from the water throwing!]

 
Tuesday April 16th

 
      A very quiet day after the huge Songkran festival before. It's still a national holiday so it's quieter than usual and a big contrast to all the water of before. Everyone I know had a great time but is very relieved it's all over, and most people have some kind of physical problem to recover from!

 
Wednesday April 17th

 
      I booked a return flight to Singapore going out on 3rd May. It's a cheap destination from Chiang Mai considering the distance, but much more expensive to live there. It's actually nearly as far away from here as Sri Lanka. The ticket is for 10 days but I'll come back sooner if there's not enough to do, people say 5 days is enough.

 
Monday April 22nd

 
      Changed guesthouse again, same price £4 but an air conditioned room. The temperature is above 40C most days, the end of April and early May is the height of Summer in Thailand. It got up to 45C a couple of times last week so it's certainly reached my limit of comfort. Still glad to be here though.
      First thing that happened in the new guesthouse was I was found by an film person again, and this time a proper American film. It was the one we'd heard about with Angelina Jolie! Chance of getting in the film would seem a bit remote, but I was lucky to be found. The guys at the bar will be well jealous, we were hoping they'd find us last week. And Hi! to Cameron in London... The interview in the evening was easy enough, they were only looking for stand-ins, even less important than a film extra, but still cool and you get to play the part of a more famous person while the lighting and camera people do their practising and the real actors go off and take it easy. My possibility was for a mercenary soldier, in filming they'll do in May, but I doubt they'll call me, we shall see...

 
Wednesday April 24th

 
      Om bought a car. About the most useful car here if you can't afford a huge 4 wheel drive car is a pickup, so Om bought a very cool looking one that seats 5 inside (but I wouldn't fit in the back seats!) and who knows how many out in the back. Good general purpose vehicle, doesn't look its 10 years old, a car that age would be on it's last in the UK but here like in Australia they last much longer.


 
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