Wow, what an amazing day to celebrate Thailand’s New Years with the natives.
A couple of days ago, Jasmine and I had a massage at a school and our therapist suggested that we call back the next morning to contact the owner to see if we can join her in the festivities on New Years Day. Well, after a phone call and speaking to La, we were invited to her school for lunch.
We had fresh strawberries to give as a gift but forgot it back in our room today and honestly, we didn’t know what to expect since we haven’t met La. Once we had arrived, she spotted us right away and introduced herself. It seriously felt like home right away.
Vietnamese New Years was in February and I was away in New Zealand and didn’t have any one to celebrate it with. I was also in search for Asian food that day and failed. Today, made up for that and much more. I had talked to my mom this morning and just going to La’s place, I felt like I was at home with my family.
The morning started with us making flags to give to the temples. According to La, these flags are made because they believed for all of the sins that you have done, you will go down and this flag will help you bring you back up with all the good stuff you have done. These flags are also known as Tungs.
Afterwards, we had lunch with the school and all of La’s friends. It wasn’t a traditional Thai lunch but Chinese. Still, it was delicious and everything I wanted and more. We had sticky rice, noodles, chicken, spicy salad, and make it yourself soup.
We weren’t quite sure what was going on but we noticed that the women were getting ready so I had asked La’s daughter to braid my hair as well. Once she started to do this, the other ladies joined in. They put chalk on my face – not sure what this is for but I was told it is to protect me from the water. I was given pants, a hat, and a top.
I thought we were going to go to a temple and pray for the New Years. We all pile up in a truck with water guns, flags, and we are off for the Songkran Festival.
Songkran is the celebration of New years in Thailand. This holiday falls during the hottest days of the year. Which is nice, because it is a huge water festival now. This excerpt was taken from Wikipedia:
The throwing of water originated as a way to pay respect to people, by capturing the water after it had been poured over the Buddhas for cleansing and then using this “blessed” water to give good fortune to elders and family by gently pouring it on the shoulder.
We drove straight into the main part of the festival and it was crazy! I thought I would see more foreigners and tourists with water guns and throwing water around but every one from kids, teenagers, babies, and the locals were a part of this huge festival. It was amazing to see a whole town come together and have so much fun. Thankfully, I brought extra zip lock bags and a waterproof bag to capture this event through my iPhone 4s lens. Ha!
The truck stops and every one comes out and the next thing I know, La tells us that we are going to be a part of the parade that goes through the town. How awesome is this! Funny, every one thought I was Thai and all of the locals were happy to see Jasmine and my new friend, Jose be a part of this.
We walked about 2 hours around the old center of Chiang Mai. I got water hosed on, sprayed by kids, cleanse by the elders, and a bracelet by a monk. Then the next thing you know, it started to rain! It stops shortly after and the sun is out and I get goosebumps and feel like a new person. Seriously, it was the most beautiful feeling ever. I don’t know how to describe it but I was so glad that I was here to embrace the culture and for the locals to accept me.
Before I head home, you can’t go home on an empty stomach. We had another feast and afterwards, we were given a speech, blessing, and a gift by a monk. La also gave us the shirts to keep and asked for us to come back next year 🙂
I really should go to bed, we have an all day cooking class tomorrow 🙂