Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Songkran Sendoff

I left Jimmy in Singapore and journeyed back to Thailand. I had a super nice Best Western booked for my last two nights in Bangkok. I had nothing planned but to repack, lay by the pool, read, and write, and that's exactly what I did. I also FaceTimed with my mom for two hours. I can't believe my parents will be picking me up from JFK in four weeks!

Although I had plenty of time to venture out into Bangkok one last time, I decided not to. My last two weeks of traveling had gone flawlessly and I didn't want anything to go wrong to put a damper on my last impression of Thailand. Another reason I decided against leaving: Songkran. Songkran is the celebration of the Thai New Year. This three day celebration (six days in some parts of the country) is basically one huge water fight. Thai people (and foreigners who join in) roam the streets with water guns, buckets of water, and hoses, soaking anyone and everything in sight. They also carry around beige talc mixed with water that gets smeared on random street dwellers with intentions to bless them in the New Year. Normally, I'd be really into this, but I was alone and afraid for my belongings. Anyone is fair game during Songkran, so I sadly skipped going into Bangkok.

Being one who likes snacks available at all times, I decided to walk about four minutes to 7-11 to pick things up for my flight. Even though I was positive nothing would happen, I prepared. I took my wallet, left my phone in the room, and put on old gym clothes. I was safe on my way to 7-11, but on the walk back, a truck pulled over ahead of me. Crap. The bed of the truck was full of Thai people with a big bucket in between them. They were coming for me and all I could do was embrace it. Two men came over to me; one with a bucket of water, one with a bucket of talc, both with enormous smiles. I could tell they were being a bit cautious, but when I yelled SONGKRAN! they let the water pour (being careful not to get my wallet, how nice of them). Water ran down my head, chest, and back, followed by the smearing of talc all over any exposed skin from the neck up. I could tell how pleased they were that I was such a good sport. When they were pleased with their work, we tried to have a conversation but the language barrier was up between me and everyone in the truck. Obviously not getting too far with that, they thanked me and let me on my way.

I walked into my hotel lobby drenched, pale-faced, and smiling from ear to ear. Everyone in the lobby joined in my laughter and one of the Thai bell boys said Songkran got you! It was all in great fun and it was honestly the perfect experience to end my time here. It will always remind me that Thailand really is the 'land of smiles.'

Never did I have a desire to go to Asia, and now I'm finding it extremely difficult to say goodbye. I am a very, very lucky person to have gotten an opportunity to teach here, to have my first backpacking experience, and to explore five countries and all the beauty they have to offer. I'm even luckier to be able to stay with one of my best friends in London for a bit before it's back to the real world. Thailand, you've been good to me and I hope to be back sooner than later, but it's finally time to give my hair a break from the humidity! Kristen, I'm coming for you and America, you're close behind!!

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