The day after the acclaimed ‘tsunami’, Nico and I were fortunate to make an escape out of Chuang Tha to return to the smog and fog of Myanmar’s former capital, Yangon.
Our return to Yangon coincided with the first day of the Buddhist New Year’s Celebration, known in the West as the ‘Water Festival’. From our window seat on the bus, all the local Burmese – including children and adults of all ages – were soaked and out on the streets, armed with hoses and buckets filled with water to toss and throw on anyone and everyone who dared to pass by.
Everyone is a target. Anyone who is seen to make an escape dry is looked upon with pity, and is chased by hoards of locals hoping to make a blessing by ‘purifying’ you with water.
Purification and respect are the true motivations behind drenching you with water, as it represents Buddha being bathed… being cleaned and removed from his sins and impurities of the past… and ready to start the new year afresh.
Despite the ‘fun factor’ behind the Water Festival, Nico and I did face a few impracticalities when trying to plan how we would get from our hotel to the airport with all of our belongings (including my netbook) without getting wet.
Though we somehow managed to leave Yangon relatively dry with our belongings free from moisture and damage, we somehow failed to consider the implications of walking around the tourist-dense and less sympathetic crowds of Kao San Road in Bangkok. I’ll leave our state of arrival into our hotel room to your imagination, but will add that I somehow managed to keep my netbook safe and sound.