Phuket – Thailand

July 15th, 2007

I do not have something exciting to share with you every week.  However, there are many events that have occurred in the past which I never got a chance to share.  I will therefore regularly go back and re-visit, as much for my benefit as yours, some memorable events of the past.

In April 2003, I went to Phuket from where I would depart on my first live-aboard dive trip. 5 days in the Similan Islands.  I arrived on Saturday and was not due on the ship until Sunday evening.  I had one and a half day to kill and so I rented a moped to be able to move around the island a bit and go to places I had not visited before.  All went well on Saturday afternoon.  I was able to visit a good restaurant I like that is hard to get to without transportation – White Lotus, owned and operated by a Vietnamese woman who is very friendly.

On Sunday, I decided to explore the southern coast.  I left the hotel relatively early and as I go around the first bend on the main street, a couple of kids toss a glass-full of water at me… I am not sure what happened, but with the heat it actually feels good, and I do not think about it further.  As I go through the first village south of Patong Beach,  I get ‘attacked’ by a few teens with water pistols. There is definitely something going on as I see groups of people setting up large barrels of water along the road.  I am still in the dark as to what is about to happen.

As time passes more and more people are along the road and are throwing water at everything that moves.  Soon, I start to see pick-up trucks with large barrels of water in the back trying to soak the people along the side of the street.  A giant water battle is building.  And I am totally unarmed!  However, it is rather hot, I am only wearing shorts and t-shirt and I do not mind being a little wet. 

As I head back to Patong, I get a new experience: some people actually put ice in their water barrels and therefore I get the occasional really cold shower.  There are also some people trowing talcum powder, and even coloured talcum powder.

I am soon soaking wet, with blotches of green, orange, purple and red all over my clothes.  And it is almost lunch time.  With some embarrassment, I walk into a local restaurant, wondering the kind of reception I will get given my current state.  However, I guess it must be expected on this day and I have no trouble getting a table and decent food.

After lunch, I continued to explore and continued to get soaked.  The more the day progressed, the more people were out celebrating, dancing, cruising etc.. while continuing to trow water at each other.  In Patong, the main street was one big party.  Many of the local bars had setup speakers outside and were playing loud music while patrons were dancing on tables and soaking passers-by.  On the street, people were dancing on motorcycles and in the back of pick-up trucks while soaking the patrons of the bars.  And, as before, I seemed to be stuck in the middle and getting soaked from both sides … but really enjoying every minute of it.

When I got back to the hotel to check out, I was totally wet and dripping all over the floor.

I discovered later that this is a tradition at Thai New Year in Phuket.  This happens every year and is beginning to attract more and more tourists.  This was my third “New Year” celebration this year, after the “Christian New Year”, “Chinese New Year” and now “Thai New Year”.

A great experience – I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time for it.

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One Response to “Phuket – Thailand”

  1. David Ingon 17 Jul 2007 at 20:43

    I can see how opportunities for cultural misunderstanding could present themselves. If you had been someone in a bad mood on the first day, the story could have gotten worse and worse instead of better and better.

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