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(Water) Pistols at 20 paces by Dr.Iain Corness

songkran

As the weather gets hotter and hotter, we are supposed to look forward to the annual Thai New Year, celebrated by throwing water over each other. It is now promoted as a tourist attraction, but what kind of tourists come for a no-holds barred water fight? And iced water at that!

Just saying the word “Songkran” makes the seasoned ex-pat’s heart sink, and usually there is an expletive muttered before the word. I know it is the Thai New Year, I am aware of the history of what used to be a delightful celebration and acknowledgement of the respect due to one’s elders, but I am also too aware of what Songkran has become today. Aquatic madness, ending up in an annual death toll in the hundreds which should not be ignored. But will be, other than lip service in the newspapers.

One of the inherent problems is that the Thai people these days do not ‘celebrate’ Songkran, they say that they ‘play’ Songkran. Enjoyment comes first – grieving can come later.

The lethal mixture of motorcycles, alcohol and no helmet is responsible for 80 percent of the fatalities. Controlling those factors would be a reasonable starting point one would imagine, but it won’t happen, other than lip service again.

I am not going to offer suggestions as to how to reverse the death toll. I am a guest in this country, but I can make observations.

So what should you do during the week of playing Songkran? Stay indoors, order take-away pizzas (they can slide those under the door so you don’t have to open it) and remember the hotline 1719 if you need an ambulance.

 

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