Do you have any idea where Uttaradit Province is in Thailand? .. Hmm.. I bet none of you know it or just a very few might have heard of its name somewhere.
What? Where? Why Uttaradit?
Let me tell you briefly about Uttaradit Province.
Uttaradit is a very small province in the lower part of the North of Thailand and upper part of the Central Thailand. It is so small that even not many Thai people know where it exactly is. Some think it is near Udon Thani. Some think it is in the South. Some cannot even write it correctly in Thai. According to its name, Uttaradit is known as the Port of the North and is famous for the history of a war hero, the biggest teak in the world, a source of good-quality natural iron, and a mysterious city where you couldn’t lie called Lab Lae. (More information about Uttaradit Province is here: http://www.tourismthailand.org/Where-to-Go/Uttaradit)
Moreover, it is where I was born and had stayed for almost 20 years before I moved to study and work in Bangkok. Since then I did not came home often except for long public holidays; for example, New Year’s or Songkran Festival. So whenever I come back home, it’s time for family reunions, time for mom to wake me up at 5 a.m to prepare stuff for the monastery, and of course for Songkran Festival, it’s time for water fighting!
New Way of Life, New Way of Water Fight!
Songkran in the old style is nothing special but a small battlefield along the road around the city. People set up their army with a big water tank and buckets of water. Water fighters then gathered, waiting for other water fighters to pass their battlefield. And then.. BAM! Get wet all of yaaa!
It is great fun though, no doubt. However, comparing to other provinces where the officials will arrange many other activities to attract people from other places to join, Uttaradit has never ever arranged such things before. (At least for the past 20 years that I’ve experienced.)
But I have been surprised this year! Old-school water fight got outdated! Here comes the new trend!
Well, to be honest, it might be just a normal Songkran celebration if you already traveled around the country and saw different styles of Songkran Festivals. But for Uttaradit, I have to admit that it is a very big deal to host such an event. Around the city decorations with different landmarks for tourists to take photos could be seen. Moreover the main street was also blocked for a big foam party!!
Wait! What!? Foam Party? You must be kidding me! Uttaradit arranged a foam party? Woah!
Time flies, Things Change. But Classy Stays Forever.
The foam party received very good feedback from all ages. Oldies, teenagers and children. I got a chance to wander around and saw that there were lots of people joining even though it was already 9 p.m. Besides the foam party, there were concerts from many famous singers each and every day which started on April 11th and lasted until the 15th. Everyone who attended really enjoyed this celebration after bearing with the hot weather for the whole day.
Also every landmark around the city was full of people who gathered there. Some were taking selfies, some were walking around. I took notice of pretty much every detail for the locals as well as for the tourist since I was stuck in the car because of the traffic jam..
For a province that normally becomes very quiet at 9 p.m, I dare to say that traffic jamming in Uttaradit is almost a new phenomenon that never happened so far!
The foam party and the concerts took place every day for 5 days, but most importantly, people still stick with their old traditions as well. The monastery was full of Buddhists making merit in the morning. People cleaned up their houses in order start a good new year. Family reunions still remain the key activity, so does pouring water on the hands of parents and ask for blessings.
And that’s what we always do every year here in Uttaradit, a small city that has modified and adapted but never changed in people’s mind.
Where have you been during the past Songkran Holiday? Was it as cool as my hometown? Show it to us and share how your experiences were. I’ll be waiting to hear from you from my office desk in Bangkok.. :(
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