I’ve been to a lot of the consensus “best parties in the world.” New Year’s Eve in Rio, Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan, Oktoberfest in Munich, Peace & Love Party in St. Tropez, etc…I think Songkran on Khao San Road in Bangkok has them all beat.
I hadn’t purchased a return ticket HKT-BKK, because I wasn’t sure when i’d be heading back. HKT was packed to the gills when I walked into the terminal. All the tsunami related issues had screwed with people’s travel plans and it was quite a mess. I walked to the Thai ticketing office and asked for a business class seat on the next non-sold out flight. They told me they had something at 4:30pm and gave me a receipt. I think my ticket was under $200…gotta love those prices.
Even the business class check-in queue was very long. When I got to the front, the agent told me that the (I think 12:30pm flight) hadn’t left yet (it was around 12:45pm) and would be delayed until at least 1:15pm. She assured me that if I wanted to hurry I would be able to make that flight rather than spending several hours sitting airside in the lounge.
Despite my earlier bad luck in agreeing to rush to make an earlier means of conveyance (Phuket to Koh Phi Phi ferry that got me to the island just in time for a tsunami warning), I told the agent to go for it. I was even able to secure a row 16 exit row window seat on the 747-400’s upper deck again.
This was my first time departing HKT, so I had no idea how small the airport was. I ran towards security, then laughed to myself when I saw that my gate was literally on the other side of the metal detector, and the delay was not going to be insignificant.
I have to assume due to the volume of people of planes coming in and out of HKT that the delay was ATC related, but I didn’t ask. Since I had about a half hour to kill before boarding my flight (which as per the scheduled time should have already departed), I went to the TG Domestic J lounge.
It’s not as nice as the lounge at BKK, but it did offer wifi, a place to sit down and some cold drinks, it could have been worse.
As I mentioned, I was again on the upper deck of a Boeing 747-400. After boarding was called, my ascent to the top cabin left me faced not with the old 7442 seats, but rather the new shell style business class seats, similar to the J seats TG fields on their refitted Airbus A330-300’s (like the one I flew HKG-BKK). The quality of the seat was of little consequence for such a short flight, but it did give me an excuse to snap more cabin photos.
Another barely edible meal was served before touchdown in BKK.
Songkran is the Thai New Year. It typically takes place in the middle of April. There is a period of around three days where the entire city shuts down. Bangkok basically becomes a venue for urban water warfare. People have super soakers, hoses, buckets filled with ice water and they have a never ending water fight while drinking cheap, cold beers and smearing white clay all over each other’s faces. It’s a trip.
I got to Bangkok a few days before Songkran in hopes of going to the Embassy of Myanmar and securing a visa for a quick stop in Rangoon. Due to my poor planning, I did not check the embassy dates, and they were closed from well before Songkran until the end of the month. Myanmar would have to wait until December.
A friend from Dubai was in Bangkok for Songkran and I texted her from my room at the trusty A-Loft.
“Hey i’m in Bangkok”
“Me too, i’m on Sukhumvit.”
“Cool, I just got to my hotel, I’m on Sukhumvit also, which Soi?”
“I’m on Soi 11”
“Are you fucking kidding me? I’m on the 18th floor as well”
I turned out we were staying like three doors down from each other. We went out that night and the Songkran madness started in earnest the next day.
My first issue was procuring a gun. On day one I waited until late afternoon, then went to the corner of Soi 11 near the Nana BTS stop. There was a mobile bar setup on the corner with their own supply of water. I bought a super soaker off one of the Thai women there and grabbed a beer. It was a blast drinking with randoms and soaking everyone in sight.
This was nothing compared to Khao San Road. I got up early the next day and made my way over towards the KSR backpacker ghetto. I had broken my weapon from the previous evening, so I was in need of a new watergun. Luckily, along the approach to KSR there are tons of watergun vendors. I grabbed a suitably large gun as well as a wetbag to wear around my neck (ala Vang Vieng) and stuffed my phone and wallet into the safe, waterproof confines.
KSR was almost too packed to walk. Beers were roughly 30 cents a piece, and the party went all day and all night. I’ll let the pictures tell it.
I didn’t expect Songkran to be anything special, but by halfway through that afternoon on KSR, I was texting everyone at home and telling them to book tickets for next April. In the time since, I have already booked my flight back. I exploited a temporary Singapore Airlines First Class Availability loophole to book a trip JFK-SFO-HKG-BKK-VTE-BKK-DPS-SIN-MUC-DME-IAH-EWR that allows me to stop in HKG for lunch at Yat Lok, spend Songkran in Bangkok, stop back in Vang Vieng, go to Bali and visit a buddy in Moscow on the way home.
If you’ve never been to Songkran…buy a ticket NOW and i’ll see you in April.