Songkran is an incredible new years tradition in Thailand that welcomes in the Thai new year, and also happens to be the world's largest and wildest water fight. What started out as a tradition involving the gentle blessing of monks by sprinkling water on them has evolved into buckets full of ice water and super soakers anointing anyone and everyone who passes.
What's really incredible about this holiday is the universality of it. There aren't really any safe zones in public, and everyone is fair game. Old lady walking down the street carrying groceries? She's gonna get hosed with water. Pack of people in the back of a red truck taxi? I hope they like being trapped and wet, because everyone knows there a moving target. This is the water fight that George R. R. Martin would invent.
On the first day we went out, we weren't sure what the rules of engagement were. As we were walking on the side road from our apartment to the main road, we had to walk past a little shop that sold water, veggies, beer, and a few other grilled things. And there were three little kids standing out front, two with super soakers and one just standing by a bucket of water. As we're maybe 30 feet out, the little girl, already drenched to the bone, yells what I think was "farang!" or "Foreigners!" in english. We figured we were in for a little squirting, and so we squirted them a little with our squirt guns, but they then started really attacking. They grabbed buckets, and as we were trying to walk away we both were both soaked.
We walked down the road and were soaked continuously for maybe 3 blocks before we ducked into a cafe. Restaurants are one of the few places that are exempt from the water fight, and we sat down and had a nice little cup of coffee, before we started walking home and got soaked again.
The entire day, everyone is throwing water at each other. And then the sun sets, and everyone starts drinking. Every public space gets converted into a dance/music space. The local mall turned it's front plaza into a club. A little cul da sac of restaurants turns into a "Foam party." Near our area, the party went on until about 4AM.
Then Thai people wake up, and start the water fight again. For three days, there's nothing but water and Leo's for miles as the entire country celebrates. The sheer stamina of the festival is really incredible and is an experience that everyone should try to go to at least once.