Sunday, 01 May 2016 15:03

Songkran Madness

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Songkran. Photo by Bao Zoan

This year’s celebration of Thailand’s Water Festival in Saigon was hell. Words by Jon Aspin


When the biggest consequence of war is a face full of H2O, it’s no surprise that people’s loyalty becomes questionable. Arriving late at Saigon Outcast’s Get Wet Water and Music festival at the Youth Cultural House in District 1, it was clear that a battle of sorts had taken place. However, who was winning, or if that even mattered, wasn’t quite so cut and, er, dry.


“What’s your game plan?” I asked Henrike from Holland when I bumped into her. “No idea,” she screamed above the crowd, “anybody who’s dry is a target!” “Has anyone stood out in battle?” I asked Mike from the US. “I don’t know,” he shouted, “but there is a girl over there wearing a Captain America uniform, you should go and ask her!”


Tactics and Lots of Water


Resembling a kind of aquatic orgy in the middle of the city, icy-cold money-shots from brightly-coloured super-soakers were being fired in all directions by the time I arrived. The only strategy seemed to be‘engage your enemy’, anticipate retaliation, and then brace for an all-out exchange of water-based fun.


Clearly there was a damp grey line between enemies and friends, so I wasn’t sure how to react when my own editorial manager let loose on me with the full force of the water ‘law’.


Sopping wet, and promising to get this article in on time, I hunkered down, then bravely strafed through the random jets that criss-crossed the battlefield. Embedding myself with some other shelter-seeking survivors, I tried to regain my composure


Soon however, as bass-heavy music began to pump, and while water bomb grenades ‘rained’ in all around me, second mojito-in-hand, I realised that there was no escape and that before I ended up in a watery grave, I had to wave the white flag and leave.


Casualties strewn around the apocalyptic car park location, I took one last look at the scene. Brightened up by one giant in‑atable castle-cum-water slide, what looked like a drenching pool in the middle, several wading pools, and of all things a mechanical bull, this festival was everything and nothing that I had expected.


Songkran, you may have beaten me this year, but I’ll be back, maybe.


Photos by Bao Zoan / April 2016

Last modified on Sunday, 01 May 2016 15:16
Jon Aspin

Over the last 10 years, staff editor Jon Aspin has been producing ‘sparkling’ copy for everyone from mega rich beer companies and consumer electronics giants to local caravan dealers and Swedish Phd students. Born in the North East of England but raised in Australia, Jon has now worked on three continents, and remains curious about the others. Arriving in Vietnam 'on sabbatical' sometime during 2013, Jon soon got appointed ‘captain’ on a movie about a war and has tried not to look back since.
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