As the rains start to come in Pattaya and around the rest of Thailand it must mean one thing and that is the start of Songkran or the Water Festival. Songkran is the Thai New Year and is celebrated throughout the country between the 13th and 19th April each year. Here in Pattaya and Naklua the main days of celebration are 18th April in Naklua and Pattaya it is 19th April but in reality, anyone who has lived or even visited Pattaya during Songkran will tell you that it certainly goes on longer than that – usually around a week.
For most places in Thailand Songkran involves the pouring or water on another person’s head as a mark of respect. In Pattaya however this is often ice cold water taken from a large water containers usually using a bucket, water pistol or a converted piece of piping (technically illegal) to quite literally soak another to the skin – but as we all know, Pattaya does like to do things differently! This is certainly the time when electrical devices should be left at home or at the very least put in plastic bags as regardless of where you go in the city you will get wet!
The Naklua Kong Khao Fair is an annual event that is held each year on 20th April and is a slightly more orderly affair. This celebration has taken place for hundreds of years and after the events of the previous few days where the water splashing has taken place and for the more religious, the making of merit has occurred; on the evening of 20th April villagers will gather around to set the Kong Khao or Rice Piling Ceremony. The belief is that the piled rice is an offering to the spirits (or Gods) and that the preparation is a showing of thanks and is an act of sharing. The event is also a reflection of the ideas and attitudes of the people of Pattaya and Naklua in particular.
The Kong Khao Fair is like most celebrations in Thailand an opportunity to party, eat plenty of food and needless to say, drink lots of alcohol. If you go to the old town of Naklua you will see many of the locals and lots of tourists joining in the various activities including Thai boxing in the sea, traditional Thai dancing and much, much more. It really is something that is worth seeing and something different to what most of us are used to in our home countries.