If you’re thin-skinned, huffy, touchy or hypersensitive then you should never ever go to Thingyan Water Festival in Myanmar. For four days, we were drenched, soaked, doused and extinguished with huge amounts of water. All of our sins faded in an instant, in just one splash. This is the best festival I’ve been to ever in my life!
When me and my buddy were plotting our itineraries, it was like, I wanna spend a week here or Let’s skip this place and so on. With no idea on what to expect on each country, our two-month backpacking trip around Southeast Asia went as planned, until we arrived in Myanmar.
Thingyan in Myanmar, Songkran in Laos and Thailand, Bengali in Bangladesh, Singhalese in Sri Lanka, Chaul Chnam Thmey in Cambodia, and more; you’d want to be in those countries during this most celebrated Buddhist festival, I’m sure. We’re lucky enough to have experienced the whole shindig while we’re in Myanmar.
Arriving on the 13th of April 2015, we’re already warned that it was the start of the Thingyan (Water) Festival in the country thus; shops, restaurants, and establishments are closed for business, only few transportations are available (a major problem), and be ready to get wet for four days. With this in mind, we thought we're ready for all of this.
|No, you cannot escape them, even if you're inside the local train|
|Get drenched from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.|
With no concrete plans, and with confirmed hotel booking at Sule Shangri-La Hotel (which we didn’t get to enjoy), we arrived at Yangon on the first day of Thingyan. Luck or no luck, we got nothing to do but endure everything; from re-arranged hotel accommodations to unplanned city transfers due to limited transportation.
Thingyan is widely celebrated in Myanmar (read:weeklong holiday celebration all throughout the country). Besides the Buddhists' religious activities, the crazy water fest is the highlight of it all. Traditionally, the sprinkling of scented water in a silver bowl represents the washing away of sins of the previous year. The modern-day celebrations are quite different though, but still, they share the same idea of gatting cleansed.
Now, bucketsful of water, water pistols, garden hoses, fire hoses and other means to shower water to other people are employed. Huge crowds on foot, motorcycles, jeeps and trucks usually roam around the city to either throw out some water or be thrown upon. Loud music, festive mood and booze are everywhere. In those four days, Burmese people just let it all out and party all day, for four days (just four days, what about for the rest of the year? I really don't know). There are exceptions and restrictions on the serious water throwing though; monks, pregnant women, and old ones are exempted, plus the water splashing should strictly start at nine in the morning and should end at around six in the evening.
|Oh come on...|
So prepare to get wet and check out the best festival in the world!
|They really wanna get wet|
|First day swell|
|Let's go kids|
|Scream if you may, but you ain't excused|
|Yangon's main stage|
|You'd want to be here, I know|
|Long sleeves and longyi|
|Burmese people just let it all out, for four days|
|Pick-ups, trucks, jeeps|
|Just queue, if you want it wet|
|When the music pumped up...|
|Thanks for the hitch Mike, our newfound friend in Mandalay|
|Hey, you look like Myanmar people...|
|Free booze... Free dance...|
|Free food # 1: Mohinga|
Rice noodles with fish soup and other fresh ingredients
|Free food # 2 : Mont - lone - yay - paw|
Glutinous rice balls with filled jaggery syrup centers and shaved coconut
Amongst all of the cities, my favorite party place was Mandalay. We met a lovely family taht hitched us to enjoy the tumultuous crowd, deafening party music and the over-the-top water dousing. So mark your calendars and plan your itineraries very well for next year's Thingyan Water Festival, you should be in Myanmar to check it out!