Travel journal from Jing Hong (aka Xishuanbana), China, during the Sonkran (Blessing) Festival.
Thousands of beautiful candle lit lanterns were set adrift into the Mekong river while thousands of candle lit paper balloon-like lanterns were set afloat above the Mekong. The gorgeous calm site resembled somewhat of a peaceful blitzkrieg. Â The following day of the festival introduced a whole new level of fun in which tens of thousands of residents partook in the largest water fight one can imagine. For four hours high pressure squirt guns and buckets of water were discharged at will on every street and from every building in the city. Snipers dropped gallons from rooftops, pick-up trucks carried groups of well-armed troops screaming with good cheer as they hurled water from filled kiddy pools. Ammunition stations consisting of water filled oil drums and hoses were scattered about in random alleyways and even the city turned on the water mains by way of hydrants and fountains for everyone to re-charge. Everyone and anyone, with the exception of the elderly and babies, were drenched at will and multiple times over at that. The Chinese loved targeting westerners so needless to say, myself along with a French girl and an Indian man I had met at a western breakfast haunt, were prime targets at all moments. In fact, we seemed to be the only westerners in site so the heat was on heavy for us. At one point, the three of us marched down one street with our super soakers held high bellowing some war mongering chant we spontaneously conjured up. Our feeble display was met with 200 + charging Chinese ready to bring us down. It was a predestined feat for a few fools but I’ll tell ya, having hundreds of liters of water thrown at you from all corners is quite the feeling to experience. Roars of laughter ensued as well as a slew of fast foot steps to get us to calmer pavement.
Traditionally, throwing water on another person meant you were washing away their hardships and misfortune from the previous year and splashing them with a whole lotta luck for the following year. As time progressed, the tradition evolved and adapted a new angle that says whoever your water hurling assailant may be, there is a good chance they have a crush on you.Â According to a local banker I met, this part of the tradition still carries weight and many people apparently meet their life’s partner at this event. There aren’t too many cultural opportunities that allow for fun to flourish in China so it’s understandable why a four hour water fight could produce such loving results.
More journal shtuff to comeâ€¦Â Enjoy life.