Why You’ll Want a Cube Camera During Thailand’s Huge Water Fight
Thailand is a stunning place to visit any time of year. But, there is never a time to visit quite like Songkran. Songkran is Thailand’s New Year celebration. And, they mark the event by holding a multi-day water fight that spans the entire country. The official dates in Bangkok are April 13 through 15. In other parts of the country, the dates may vary or the festival may be up to a week.
The History of Songkran
Songkran is Thailand’s most important public holiday. It is a Buddhist festival to celebrate the beginning of the new year. The name of the festival comes from the Sanskrit word that means “astrological passage.” Historically, Brahmin priests set the dates of the festival, but the dates in the city of Bangkok are now set. Since April is Thailand’s hottest month, the splashing water is extremely refreshing.
Songkran historically would mark the end of the dry season and the return of the rains. The date would also mark the beginning of the fifth lunar month of the year. It was marked by ceremonies that involve washing the household and temple Buddhas. The cleansing ritual is believed to bring prosperity and luck in the new year. Traditionally, Buddhists return to their home cities for this festival to celebrate with family. They bring small bags of sand with them to symbolize the dirt they have brought on their feet. This sand is sculpted into small mounds that are decorated with flags that honor the Buddha. Offerings of sticky rice are purchased for monks to secure prosperity.
These days, the festival of Songkran turns the entire country into an exuberant water fight. Kids run around in the streets with massive water guns or shoot unwary passersby from the backs of cars and trucks. Buckets of water are another popular weapon in the all-encompassing water war. If you are anywhere in the country during the festival, prepare to get wet!
Bags of talc are also thrown during the water fight. It is not uncommon to see streets coated in white powder after a particularly spirited fray.
What to Bring for Songkran
If you are going to be anywhere in the country during the festival, make sure that you bring plenty of clothes to you don’t mind getting wet. Avoid anything that can’t be machine washed. Fancy clothes are likely to get destroyed by water and powdery talc. Skip heavy jewelry, since it will just get in the way in a fight. Also, avoid leather purses and wallets that can get damaged by water or dust.
Leave electronics like your phone, eReader and tablet in your hotel room or invest in waterproof pouches. Waterproof cameras like the Cube are among the best cameras for travel since you don’t have to worry about getting the camera wet. Plus, you’ll want to have a light, small video camera so that you can catch the action without being weighed down.
The Best Places to Join Thailand’s Big Water Fight
In Bangkok, Songkran is an official three-day holiday. On years that the start falls on a Monday, you can expect the festivities to begin the weekend before.
Since Songkran is the country’s longest public holiday, it is an opportunity for people from Thailand’s northern areas to return home for a few days. This means that Bangkok is quieter than usual and the city’s notoriously dense traffic calms for a few days.
If you are in Bangkok and want to be in the thick of the fight, Khao San Road is the place to be. This area, popular with backpackers, is filled with young Thai residents and tourists during Songkran. Plenty of beer and water flow during the giant water fight.
In other parts of the country, particularly northern cities like Chiang Mai, the celebration lasts as long as a week. In Chiang Mai, you can join in festivals at the temples and enjoy a parade and water fight. In Si Satchanalai, Sukhothai, there is a parade and beauty contest.
To combine the festival with a beach holiday, head to the Bang Saen District in Chon Buri. The region features sand sculpture festivals. In Ayutthaya, Songkran is celebrated with an elaborate festival involving elephants. In Phra Pradaeng, the festival involves many traditional costumes.
How to Capture the Water Fight in Photos and Video
This high action, water-filled festival presents two unique challenges: avoiding the water and dealing with the sometimes high speed pace of the action. Having a Polaroid waterproof camera is half the battle. Instead of messing around with expensive casings or inconvenient waterproofing hacks, you can get straight to enjoying the show. A few rules of the road to make sure you are getting all the action:
- Be prepared to take a lot of still photos. Getting the perfect water splash depends as much on chance as it does on preparation. Sometimes, you’ll snap at just the right moment. Other times, your photo will be captured a second before or after the decisive moment. Don’t be shy about clicking away to ensure that a few of your stills capture exactly the moment you want.
- Sometimes, short video is the best way to go. Choose a subject and focus on him or her through a section of the festivities. You’ll find that what you create is a mini-story. This gives you a more compelling, more watchable video than one that simply pans the crowd.
- Keep a small lint-free cloth in a plastic baggy in a pocket. This will allow you to remove water drops from the lens so that they do not mess up later shots.
- Be cautious when getting close to the action. The Cube Camerais small and lightweight, so it doesn’t get in your way.
- Find a vantage point from above. This can let you track an entire water battle and get a good view of all of the action.
- Want to participate? Use a small piece of metal inside your backpack to attach your Cube on the outside. This can get you the very best action shots, and you don’t have to sit a battle out.
Songkran is one of the most exciting times to visit any part of Thailand. Whether you prefer the outrageous party in Bangkok or the more traditional celebrations in other parts of the country, your Cube can help you be a part of the action while capturing the images that will save your memories of this once in a lifetime trip.