Thai kingdom celebrates Songkran

The Songkran atmosphere affected the whole Kingdom yesterday, while popular destinations such as Bangkok's Khao San Road - which expected to see 10,000 revellers a day - Khon Kaen's Khao Niew Road and Chiang Mai city were packed with celebrants splashing water.

In the South, especially at the Songkran Festival in Hat Yai, Songkhla province, many Malaysian tourists joined in the fun, while some Thais also crossed the border to visit Malaysia.

Chiang Mai saw residents and tourists, equipped with water guns, soaking one another amid booming music.

Many people also loaded water tanks on to pickup trucks circling the city wall, causing several severe traffic jams, including at Tha Pae Gate, Somphetch Market and Chang Pheuk Gate.

In the afternoon, a beautiful procession led by the "Phra Phutthasihing" and various Buddha images from other temples, and also featuring Songkran beauty pageants, started from San Pa Khoi Intersection, passing through Tha Phae Road to Wat Phra Sing.

Many people also made merit and poured scented holy water on to Buddha images for good luck during this Thai traditional New Year.

In Bangkok's Khao San Road and surrounding areas, the atmosphere was robust with friendly water wars between Thais and foreigners amid tight security provided by some 300 policemen and 150 security volunteers.

About 200 city law-enforcers were dispatched from the Phra Nakhon District Office to work with police to provide order and prevent violence or inappropriate behaviour such as men groping female revellers or women wearing clothes that were too revealing.

If the offenders ignored a warning, they could face a lewd-act charge and be fined Bt500 (S$20) immediately.

Another popular water-war zone, Silom Road, was also packed with revellers while Songkran-related shops opened along the footpaths.

In Buri Ram's Muang district, residents and tourists poured into the Buriram United Football Club's I-Mobile Stadium to celebrate Songkran day and enjoy concerts on three stages featuring Thai, Korean and Japanese artists.

About 1,000 police and volunteers provided security at the site. It was expected that tens of thousands would attend this event.

In Hat Yai, which suffered from a car-bombing on March 31, many residents and tourists splashed one another, particularly on Sanehanusorn Road in front of the Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel and at Natpat Unthit 3 Road where the "Hat Yai Midnight Songkran" event was hosted.

Hat Yai fire engines supplied water to large tanks around the city for revellers.

In Phuket, despite the recent tsunami scare, about 2,000 residents offered alms to 326 monks and poured water on to Buddha images for good luck at 7am at the public park at the end of Saphan Hin Peninsula before the fun-filled water war commenced at Patong Beach from the late morning onwards.

In Chon Buri, 11 districts celebrated Songkran under the theme of "Miracle of Songkran: Miracle of Chon Buri", under which the province's cultural uniqueness will be presented until April 21.

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