I usually spend the Songkran festival just in the area where I live. It’s not only safer, but I also don’t need to worry about traffic jams. The majority of people leave Bangkok to go upcountry leaving the streets virtually empty. But this year I was invited by TAT (Isaan Division) to experience Songkran in Khon Kaen and Kalasin. As I have never been in this area for this festival, I jumped at the chance. The following photos were posted live during the 5-day Trip.
Trip dates: 12-16 April 2018
DAY ONE: Good evening from Bangkok Railway Station (commonly known as Hua Lamphong). Lots of Thais here waiting to catch a train home for the Songkran holidays.
This week I’m on a 5-day media trip to four provinces in Northeastern Thailand. We will be visiting Khon Kaen, Kalasin, Maha Sarakham and Chaiyaphum. Photo of my Thai media colleagues and myself on the sleeper train.
Tonight I’m taking the sleeper train from Bangkok to Khon Kaen. Departure time is 8pm and we’re due to arrive at 4:17am tomorrow morning. The 2nd Class ticket is 809 Baht. Inside temperature is a chilly 23°C.
The carriage attendant came round to make up the beds even before we had left the station. BTW, lower bunk is 100B more expensive. Other than a window they are much the same. There’s a power socket and a reading light. A bit early to sleep. Glad I brought some movies on my iPad.
Have arrived safely in Khon Kaen. The train continues onto Nong Khai, but it looks like half the passengers got off here. I didn’t really get a full night’s sleep. Hopefully enough as it’s going to be a long day.
DAY TWO: Good morning from Khon Kaen. This afternoon we will be going to Wat Chaisi for a ceremony called Sia Khro (พิธีเสียเคราะห์). Then we will go to take pictures of the #Songkran celebrations in Kalasin and Khon Kaen.
Wat Chaisi in Ban Sawatee, Khon Kaen is a most unusual temple. It was built in the early 20th Century and has mural paintings on both the inside and outside. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/RnKmAKbpV612
At Wat Chaisi in Khon Kaen today, they had a special ceremony called Sia Khro (พิธีเสียเคราะห์). It is performed every year on 13 April to remove any bad luck and to bring back good fortune into people’s lives.
Water fights in Kalasin in Northeastern Thailand this afternoon. Everyone had a lot of fun.
The Songkran parade in Kalasin this afternoon.
This is my first Songkran in Kalasin and also my first in Isaan. The people here are very polite and friendly with lots of smiles. And most asked permission first before splashing water. Lots of fun. Highly recommended.
The first day of water fights in Kalasin were a lot of fun, even though they tended to use buckets and hose pipes a lot.
DAY THREE: Good morning from the fresh market in Khon Kaen in Northeastern Thailand.
Whenever I visit a new city, I like to get up early to explore the morning market. They are always busy but the vendors somehow have time for a quick smile at the foreigner taking pictures. The best markets for me are the ones not frequented by tourists.
Monks on their morning alms round in the local market in Khon Kaen. Rather them than me walking around barefoot in that market. At least I didn’t see any rats. Cleaner than the average wet market.
Wet markets in #Thailand are not for the squeamish or people worried about hygiene. It’s what it is and adds character to the place. Incidentally, some of the restaurants that you might consider safe to eat because they look clean, buy their supplies here. Just saying.
Breakfast in Khon Kaen: Kai Ka Ta, pan fried egg with pork and Chinese sausage (ไข่กะทะ). This set, including bread rolls and coffee, was 70 Baht. Better than the American Breakfast at the hotel for sure.
I’ve seen plenty of people playing Songkran wearing traditional or local clothes. But they are still the minority.
The official uniform of Songkran water fights are the brightly colored Hawaiian style shirts.
Drone photos of the river and lake in Nong Na Kham district of Khon Kaen. This morning we are exploring the area by boat.
Boat trip on the lake in Nong Na Kham district of Khon Kaen. This area is being developed as a new tourist attraction which will include homestays on the houseboats.
It’s interesting to watch these fishermen at work. The big nets are in the water for a while before they winch them up to see they have any fish.
An Isaan lunch on a fishing raft on the lake in Nong Na Kham district of Khon Kaen.
Photos of the beautiful golden shower trees (ต้นคูน) in bloom along some roads in Khon Kaen this week.
Dinner at Ban Tan Fah restaurant (บ้านตาลฟ้า) in Kalasin. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/MNG31wr7B3q
DAY FOUR: Good morning from Kalasin in Northeastern Thailand. There’s rain in the forecast but we have a blue sky at the moment. It’s the official last day of Songkran but some areas celebrate late. For example, the Mon people.
The Kae Dam wooden bridge (สะพานไม้แกดำ) in Maha Sarakham looks a bit rickety and unsafe, but it was surprisingly strong. The local people continually repair and strengthen it as and when it’s needed. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/gbERfMUCjj82
Drone photos of Kae Dam wooden bridge (สะพานไม้แกดำ) in Kae Dam District of Maha Sarakham. The present bridge is nearly 600 meters long and is 61 years old.
A warm welcome from the people of Ban Hua Khua in Kae Dam District of Maha Sarakham. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/Ypo9bFXm6HA2
Eating an Isaan lunch in Ban Hua Khua in Kae Dam District of Maha Sarakham. Do you like spicy ant egg salad?
Ban Hua Khua in Kae Dam District of Maha Sarakham has 13 homestay locations. Cost is from 200 Baht per person per night which includes breakfast. Call 094-704-8227 for more information.
If you’re ever in Ban Paeng in Maha Sarakham province, it’s worth visiting the OTOP shop Kok Thai Ban Paeng. The locals weave reed mats in their spare time when not farming. A variety of products with good prices. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/eT6x1e1beF92
Songkran concert in Khon Kaen marking the last day of the three day water festival. Not very crowded yet. Still filling up. They are expectingat least 70,000 people.
An estimated 167,000 people are attending the Songkran event in Khon Kaen tonight on Khao Nieo Road. Photos from the main stage.
DAY FIVE: ………..