M.A. Van Wey Travel & Photo


Catching Up
June 15, 2010, 1:47 pm
Filed under: Teaching | Tags: , , , , ,

Yeah another several months pass without any new content, lost once again in the hypnotic patterns of life.  Not to worry, there is much to write about and many new and pretty photos to post.  Since my last post, we’ve celebrated Thai New Year’s (the festival of water, or “Songkran”), taken another trip down south to the islands of the Andaman Sea, explored the nearby border towns close to Burma, and had a much needed visit to the States to see friends and family.  Now back in Thailand for another semester with our school, we’ve settled into our usual rhythms for better or for worse.

Songkran was a weeklong festival in April, the hottest time of the year.  It was basically a giant water fight in the streets day after day, culminating in an all-out war on Saturday.  Honestly I can’t express nor show through photos how fun and crazy it was.  Obviously I couldn’t bring my camera with me anywhere for the whole week, didn’t want it to get soaked.  The whole week was a government holiday, so starting around 10am until after dark streets were lined on both sides with water cannons and buckets.  You couldn’t go anywhere during those hours without wrapping your stuff in plastic.  The festival celebrates the coming New Year by washing away the old bad karma, starting fresh and clean as it were.  In addition to the water, powdery clay is mixed into a paste and smeared across each other’s faces, some sort of Buddhist significance that escapes me at the moment.  Sometimes Jennifer and I would man a bucket or hose, sometimes we were the ones driving our motorbike through the gauntlet, but for the last three days of the festival we were out in the thick of it until long after dark.  Honestly it was the best way to cool off, the temperatures were nearly 109F and our house is a clay oven during the day.

Our school also celebrated with a more traditional ceremony, where the elders and teachers are shown respect by the younger students and parents.  Everyone lines up and pours jasmine scented water over your hands in a ritual cleansing for the New Year like I described earlier.  I forgot to mention, during this week everyone dons the Songkran attire, Hawaiian shirts! (Well obviously just floral print shirts, but funny still).  It was cute to see all the students and teachers wearing ridiculously tacky floral shirts and flower necklaces.  Pretty much the only pictures I have of the whole holiday are of the school festival, and even then I had to hide the camera when the water balloons and buckets came out.  Not a photogenic festival for that reason.