City in Chaos

Chiang Mai has deteriorated into almost total anarchy.

All hell broke loose last night as the water festival started early. The bars that open to the main streets around the old city put huge tubs of water out and blasted music. People formed up on each side of the road, either using the tubs or the old city moat to fill weapons of all kinds. Thais and Farang both, of all ages, were brandishing buckets, water cannons, whatever contraption that will shoot water forward. There wasn’t a dry person within 20KM of the chaos. People were dancing and dripping wet. All this started about 17:00 as motorists were trying to make their way home. Farang and Thais both formed huge lines on each side of the street and attacked every single vehicle that went by. Most were moving at a snails pace because of the gridlock it had created. Many victims were business men and women in suits and ties, buses and tuk-tuks loaded with people, no one was spared a drenching. Many waved their hands yelling “mai nam” or “no water” and were angry, this only brought a hailstorm of fire as they made their way through our gauntlet.

I sneaked down to the night market early to select a weapon. I caught the guy getting his wares off the truck so he was very willing to deal. I did the only proper thing that an American should do…I purchased the largest, most wicked hand cannon he had, equip with battle-mode sling. I affectionately named it “old painless” after the famous gun in the movie Predator. I made my way back to the old city square, armed to the teeth. As I went down the sidewalk, some of the same Thai kids that had attacked me earlier, scurried away like rats when they saw me coming with my new toy. Pickup truck loads of combatants were cruising around Mogadishu style with masks or bandannas on. They had a big water tub in the truck and guns sticking out both sides of the truck like a porcupine. There were also battle tuk-tuks and sappers on motorcycles with water balloons that could cruise between the lanes of stopped traffic.

I received a slight wound, in all the action in the street, a motorbike tried to get around some people and zipped pass me so close that the muffler burned some skin off my ankle. It bubbled into a blister which I can handle, but unfortunately being as low as it is and staying so dirty, it is inevitable that it will become infected. Also, its right where they put the ankle straps, so my bungy jump at 13:00 today is going to be a little more painful than usual.

I probably ingested a gallon of the water including the creepie crawlies that live in it. Most of the water was coming from sources even worse than Thai tap water — the moat, green channels where sewage drains, etc. Let it be known though that if I go down with giardia, I’m taking others down with me! I had no idea this festival would be so fun and it hasn’t even started yet, the official start is tomorrow the 13th!

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  1. Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » Songkran fun in Chiang Mai - April 12, 2006

    […] Greg at Vagabonding begins! joins the Songkran festivities in Chiang Mai. Songkran is also known as Water Festival and it marks the Thai new year. […]

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