My lowdown on Thailand’s New Year celebrations in The Daily Telegraph today.
Among tourists, Thailand’s Songkran festival is best known for its exuberant and anarchic water fights. For three to five days, depending on the region, Thais of all ages throw ice cold water at each other and at visitors, along with copious ladles of talc, turning the country into a soaking and snow white playground.
Traditionally, the police are out in force to combat drink driving – last year the festivities cost 364 lives and incurred some 3,559 injuries. The Ministry of Culture usually reminds visitors and Thais alike that dressing in skimpy clothes damages the nation’s wholesome image. Following those pronouncements, everyone drinks, drives and generally lets down their hair – and sometimes a lot more.
This year, the New Year celebrations kicked off under the shadow of military interventionism. Official notions of what constitutes propriety were rolled out with greater conviction than ever before.