Travel

The 5 Things You Need to Survive Songkran on Khao San Road

Although this is late and it’s the last day of Songkran, I thought I’d write a list of things I wish I knew last year.

 

1) You are going to get wet. 

Absolutely every stall on Khao San Road celebrates Songkran. No matter where you go someone will dump a bucket of water on you, spray you with a water gun or get you wet by whatever means necessary. Even if you try and dodge buckets of water eventually one will get you – trust me, I tried. We took a break from the celebration and sat at one of the restaurants… a little kid still sprayed us with water. Luckily, the Thai sun is so strong you’ll be dry in no time.

2) Random people will touch your face with chalk.

It took a while to get used to random Thai men caressing my face – especially when I didn’t understand what was going on at first. Don’t worry, they’re harmless and just giving you their blessings.

3) Waterproof absolutely everything

Bring ziplog bags, buy cell phone cases, or just leave it all at home. I brought my passport in an under the pants fanny pack and it got completely soaked. If you’re planning on bringing valuables make sure they’re either waterproof or wrapped away. Stalls all over Khao San Road sell plastic phone cases that look like this:

4) Waterguns and water are available everywhere. 

Don’t worry about not finding a water gun. There are so many available you can bargain and find the cheapest one. Unfortunately I bought mine earlier and found cheaper ones along the way. Stalls also provide buckets of water for your water gun refill needs. Depending on where you get your water gun, sometimes these places will charge a couple of bhats. Try and find a water gun stall that will let you refill for free.

5) Even if you’re not on Khao San Road, you’ll still get wet. 

After we were done celebrating on Khao San Road, we hopped on the (free) public bus and headed back to our hostel. Unfortunately for us we didn’t realize Songkran celebrations occur absolutely everywhere in the city. All dry and with electronics in hand, we continued to get soaked with water until we were in the safety of our hostel. We even got chased by a little boy…

Bonus Tip: 6) Have the best time ever. 

Songkran is a lot of fun and a very unique experience. Not a lot of public spaces will allow you to dump buckets of waters on strangers without apology.

Is this real life? (📹: @jtrian)

A post shared by Deb Lam (@adventurelam) on

 

Do you have any Songkran stories? Share below!

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DAY FIVE

IMG_0212Jenn and Deanna had to exchange money so we headed to a local Thai bank. After spending what seemed like hours there, we hopped back on the handy-dandy and free public bus and headed towards The Grand Palace.

Grand Palace, take two.

It was actually open! Surprise surprise, it was already packed with Chinese tourists. When we first got there we entered through to the Emerald Buddha entrance. We saw all of the sights we did the day before and we thought we paid an unnecessary 500 baht (approximately $18.29 CAD). Once we followed the sheep we found a new section of the palace we hadn’t discovered before.

Well, The Grand Palace was most definitely grand. I also can’t describe the amount of tourists that went to see it.

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(Ignore our outfits – we had to cover up our walking outfits. Gotta love the cheap thai pants.)

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IMG_0218After touring The Grand Palace grounds and posing for photos with all of Jenn and Deanna’s fans (one of them pictured left) we decided to head to the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles (also in the palace grounds). I tried to enter the “Chinese tour group” line for fun and got through (Jenn and De didn’t – muahaha). When I went back through the foreigner line I got denied until I opened my mouth.

To be honest, this was one of the museums I found a little boring. The whole museum was dedicated to showcasing the Queen’s dresses. Don’t get me wrong, the handiwork was incredible, but it was nicer to be in the air-conditioning (as Jenn and De would say “bless”).

After cooling off in the museum we grabbed iced lemon teas at the museum’s cafe and sat in the shade to people watch. It’s interesting to see the kinds of things people wear in 35+ degree weather. We saw everything from denim on denim to velvet dresses. My personal favourite were the amount of high heel shoes we saw. To each their own – but how on earth is that comfortable for touring in large crowds!?

We headed towards the Chao Phraya for a 1-hour boat cruise. Last time I was in Thailand (9 years ago?), I saw a dead dog floating in the river and was instantly scarred – no dead dogs this time. I’m always amazed at the way other people in the world live.

IMG_0263The houses are literally held up by wooden posts. Some of the houses have even collapsed due to erosion. Seeing other places in the world remind me how lucky I am back in Canada (thank you mom and dad for moving there).

IMG_2935After the cruise we went back to our hostel area and got Thai massages for 300 baht and it was probably one of the funniest things i’ve experienced in my life. We entered a dark room that had 3 mattresses on the floor, 1 wall A/C unit and a TV. I thought were were in a Saw movie. My masseuse said a total of 7 words but Deanna’s and Jenn’s talked to each other the whole time and even answered their cell phones. They were obsessed with Jenn’s hair and skin and insisted I was from Japan and couldn’t possibly be Canadian. After the massage they also insisted on tips.

We headed back to Udee to grab our bags and cup noodles (yummmm) and headed by taxi to the airport. We were headed to Krabi, in Southern Thailand. Getting taxis are usually pretty easy – but mostly when we don’t need them to get to the airport. The airport process was so fast and we decided to cave 5 days in and eat McDonald’s (instant regret). I fell asleep instantly and woke up in Krabi.

When we got to Krabi we struggled to find our hostel because of translation problems and lack of actual addresses – a huge difference from the streets of Bangkok. The place was called Climb Krabi Inn but our sheet of paper said BRAND NEW DORM and the Thai couldn’t seem to get past that. We had the most difficult time finding the place because the sign was written on a chalkboard and street lights aren’t really a thing in Krabi town. Amy, the hostel owner, was from New Zealand. She moved to Krabi to rock climb, opened a hostel with her Thai boyfriend Zack and was heading back to New Zealand to visit for a couple of months. The people we met in Thailand live the most interesting lives. We went to the “lobby” where our new friend Billy Beach Blues drunkenly sang us Yellow by Coldplay.

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DAY FOUR

Still a little jet lagged, we woke up, navigated public transit again, and headed towards the Grand Palace. Here’s a little tip for someone going to Thailand during a holiday … be sure that the sights you’re going to see are open. Luckily for us the Emerald Buddha Temple was still open and jam-packed with Chinese tourists (I know how ironic that is considering I am Chinese, but I mean the “Chinese tourists that get banned from sights because they’re messy and use selfie sticks” tourists).

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Although hard to get a look at due to tourists – the architecture is absolutely gorgeous. The amount of detail put into each structure puts our buildings to shame. It’s sad to see the amount of tourists (regardless of ethnicity) that disobey certain customs and traditions in temples. Tourists that blatantly ignore “DO NOT TAKE PICTURES” signs annoy me. Also, being in a family that has a temple, tourists that disrespect temple dress codes make me so angry. I myself do not practice myself, but when you visit a sacred and religious place you have to respect their rules and customs.

11187147_10152836104446935_110869220206757068_oWe ate in a shaded hocker store restaurant area with the loudest tour boat salesman ever. After yet another pad thai lunch, we headed towards Wat Pho – The Reclining Buddha. The Buddha is 15m high and 43m long (thanks Wikipedia!) and absolutely spectacular.

On the way back from Wat Pho we sat in a shaded area by the park (because I’m pretty sure we were going to melt) and got hit on by a Russian man via a terrible phone translator (he asked to “company us”). Morale of the story, never sit down in the middle of a park and allow random men to hit on you. However, sitting by the park let us meet a sweet couple from Venezuela. They asked for directions to Khao San Road and we shared a taxi back. They were so grateful to us for helping them, they paid for the entire ride! It’s always nice to meet people who are interested in where you come from, what your careers are, etc. rather than those who just hit on you.

After a long day of line hopping and melting in the sun we decided to eat at a hocker stand on the side of the road, grab Chang beers from 7/11 and drink on the rooftop at sunset. Not a bad way to end the day.

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