Apr 07 2011
The unfortunate side to any holiday is that the line between fun and danger can be blurred in the blink of an eye. If you keep your wits about you and make smart decisions there is no reason for Songkran to be anything but an absolute blast. Merely remembering mother’s advice and using common sense will be just about all you need to keep yourself safe throughout the festivities.
Road accidents are the number one cause of disaster during the Songkran festival. It cannot be stressed enough – be careful on the roads. Be careful crossing the street, be careful getting in a taxi, in a tuk tuk, on a motorbike, or driving a vehicle yourself. To put things in real perspective, according to the Bangkok Post during Songkran 2010, 3,802 people were injured in road accidents, and an additional 361 people died.
Do not get behind the wheel, or the handlebars, if you have been drinking. If you find yourself in a position where it seems the driver, even the taxi driver, has been drinking ask him to pull over. He will and it’s not taboo to ask him to do so. Motorbike taxis are places to be especially cautious and if possible try to avoid them. Does the driver look drunk? There’s a good chance he’s been knocking back whiskey with his buddies.
If you are the driver lock the doors and roll up the windows, otherwise expect for the doors to be opened at red lights and for water to be thrown in your face before you even realize what has happened.
Crowds can get pretty thick during the festival so do a bit of planning for Songkran and make sure that all of your essential belongings are zipped away safely. In fact it is probably more of a worry that your things will be soaked or lost rather than deliberately taken. 7-Eleven sells handy little plastic purses that are the right size for a camera, some money and your key. They can be worn around your neck or under your clothes and are a good way to make sure important things, like cameras and credit cards, don’t fall into a knee deep puddle or snagged.
Ladies, perhaps Songkran isn’t the time to wear your new white tube top. If you look at least somewhat respectable you are far less likely to get unwanted attention, or grabs, from men a few drinks deep.
Cuts and what not
Again at the risk of sounding like your mother, take care of your cuts. You will be soaking wet in intense heat all day long. With all the people and moving around chances are you will arrive home in the evening with a few new mystery nicks. Add on the fact that you will be wearing soggy clothes all day and you are on the fast track to rashes and infection. Take meticulous care of any skin things that come up. Gross as they may be, they will far grosser in the morning.
Above all, remember that this is still Thailand. While during Songkran it may seem like anything goes, do keep in mind that you are still a stranger in a strange land. Repercussions for drug use are still severe and general modesty is still the name of the game. It’s Songkran not Mardi Gras.
And now that the buzz kill is over, enjoy yourself.
Tomorrow, Songkran: overnight trips from Bangkok.
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