Thai New Year – also as Songkran or the Water Festival – gets off to an early start this year. Many people get Monday off.
This gives them a rare six day weekend! A holiday that runs from 13 through 15 April, Thai New Year takes place at the end of Thailand’s dry season when the weather is at its hottest. It has its roots in India.
It was brought to Thailand by the Burmese. It was originally celebrated only in the North. It spread throughout the Land of Smiles during the last century. It has been a national holiday since 1940.
During Songkran, Thais and foreigners alike roam the streets armed with buckets, water pistols, and hoses and go about drenching each other. They also visit temples to pray and make offerings of food to monks.
With the political situation in Bangkok becoming increasingly tense – the first deaths were reported early Thursday morning when the police started trying to oust Red Shirts from their camp site at 4 am – travelers have been avoiding the country’s Northern province of Mae Hong Son.
But the situation is Southern Thailand is more upbeat. An unexpected tidal wave of domestic and foreign tourists is flooding into Phuket like a tsunami, filling hotels, whose occupancy rates are topping 80%, the National News Bureau of Thailand reports.
Hotels and resorts in Koh Samui are reporting a similar experience. “Life in Koh Samui is going on as normal,” says Claire Bostock, who is the executive director of the Absolute Sanctuary (Koh Samui). “You would not know that anything was happening if you did not read the papers or hear the news.
There are not any Red Shirts. Because Samui has got direct flights from Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong guest do not have to go by way of Bangkok.” If anything, Bangkok’s loss is proving to be Koh Samui’s gain. “Instead of cancellations, we are seeing last minute bookings re-routed from Bangkok for the Songran Festival.
Here it will go ahead and will be a joyous affair.” But not even all hotels in Bangkok are suffering. The general manager of one newly opened hotel in a part of the city that not been effected by the chaos says that they are getting more bookings than cancelled rooms. At least not so far. All that could change should things take a turn for the worse.
Copyright: Michael Taylor