Farang, it’s us! It’s a Thai word to designate us. Us occidental foreigners (Asians foreign to Thailand are NOT farangs) but even more so maybe us French, as some say it comes from the word “farang-set” (Francais, French) but some others that it was first used in the middle east . It is pronnonced “Fa-lang”.
And Monday, we were 4 farangs to live our first Songkran.
Songkran is the Thai New Year, yet celebrated throughout South East Asia, and the tradition at Songkran is to pour water on people, some kind of purification ritual to start the new year free of all sins. Sometimes, the water is mixed with chalk which is used by the monks to mark blessings.
Traditionally then, people just pour water on your hand and face , sometime mixed with chalk. But that was before. Now, it appears that the gentle water pouring has become this gigantic water fight and the whole city of Bangkok turns into a very wet chaos for three days. That may be why a lot of the Thai we know or Farangs who have been here a while are out of town.
We’ve read, and heard, many different things, including that it could be not that safe, but we decide anyhow, my three Farang-say friends and I, to head towards Silom road. Silom is a very nice area of Bangkok, business district but the area also has a very busy nightlife.
Leaving the house we encounter some trucks with full jars of water on the back, around the jars are men and women grinning and laughing, they give it a try with us but miss us as a taxi pulls over.
We arrive by foot from Lumpini Park, and immediately we are swallowed by a huge crowd.
People there are mainly Thai, we can spot a few farang faces but we are not that many. By that time, we started already getting shot with water, but that was just the beginning, we are getting hosed down by powerful guns, fire hoses, buckets, pans of water thrown on our backs, to our face, on the sides everywhere. Within a few minutes we are totally drenched. The worst is still to come. There are big containers on the side of the street “refill stations” for the guns and those contain… ice. The fisrt ice water I’m getting is the content of a frozen bottle poured down my neckline, and then it starts coming from everywhere. A woman gently marks my face with chalk. I’m wet and white, but I’m having fun!
A bit further there are DJs, loud music, dancing people. Looks like a rave party where people are high on water! In one of the places, a huge bucket in the air that is overturned over the crow below, while a guy happily waters the bouncing crowd with a fire hose while the guys next door use Karcher like pressure washers. This is just crazy.
But at the same time, everybody looks happy, and seems to be having a good time, there is no aggressiveness whatsoever into this gentle, good- natured rowdiness. None of us like crowds but strangely enough none of us felt oppressed at anytime.
After a few hours, we end up soaking wet, and yes, nearly cold.
Walking back to Lumpini to meet my friend Donna who is joining us for dinner. Donna is Thai, she laughs when she sees us and asks us how we found the experience. We loved it we tell her as we walk hoping to dry fast, it looks like she almost can’t believe that we had such a good time. Donna speaks both English and French, and she giggles: it’ good “farangs happy” , “Farangs happy”! For sure, Farang Happy! I wouldn’t do that every day but it was much more fun than what I thought it would be!