Sinh [sin] noun: Traditional Laos skirt worn by women all over the country.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

A Week Off For a Water Fight

Lao New Year (Pi Mai)

It is a time of spiritual and physical cleansing, visiting temples and blessing statues. It's also all about drinking copious amounts of beer and shooting the crap out of everyone with a water pistol.

This post contains mostly photos, rather than words. It shows MY pi mai (new year), which is likely to be different to many others' pi mai.

I find it a fascinating celebration -  a mix of tradition, religion, ritual and a rare opportunity to act wild, crazy and carefree - not characteristics often seen in Lao people. I loved it.

If you are curious about the whys and whens of how this Lao pi mai thing came about, check out Camilla's version. Not only has she given a fabulous explanation of the story that evolved into people chucking buckets of water from the backs of utes, but she also has some great photos of some fabulous fun times. Check out her blog post here:  Camilla's blog about Pi Mai in Vientiane

There was the spiritual, ritualistic Buddhist side of things...

Candles and small notes tied to sticks- headed for the temple

girls at work finishing off the bedazzled fake beds filled with stuff for the monks

the meeting room at work was converted into a room for glittery rituals and chanting

small notes in plastic, candles, bright yellow marigolds: everything has meaning and purpose. I'm not sure what that is...

fake marigolds and more money

more money, more glitter - like little glittery money trees - headed for the temple

the bed of goodies for  the monks

Noy carrying  glittery tree things headed for the temple

it's not a real Lao ceremony if it doesn't have food

colleagues hard at work stringing marigolds into necklaces

getting ready for the baci ceremony

The formal baci with the bosses at the forefront

tying string to wrists to connect us all to the blessings

Leurtsombat wishing long and healthy life and happy years ahead

more string tying - two at once!

Even the little one scored a stash of string bracelets

lollies and little folded notes of money were thrown around the room after the formal chants and blessings were said

my stash of gifted goodies that accompanied the string bracelet and the good wishes

The other part of the formal Buddhist bit was the washing down and blessing the statues at the temple. We poured flowered water onto statues of the various versions of Buddha and the many symbols of spirits and characteristics (snakes, elephants, etc)

This wet one was in a shopping centre
These wet ones are Jorge and Elcria about to wet down some statues

A temporary statue - made of polystyrene. He was gorgeously green and a little bit scary.

Chani and Camilla getting into the action

My very own gun - it somehow didn't seem to fit with the calmness of the temple but it was still fun

Then there are the parties...

The private ones - at work and at friend's homes...

one of what was to be many many group photos of LFTU officials in orange Tshirts

more food! - and lots of people

Alounseng's littlest having lots of fun at the party

a bit of drinking and a lot of talking crap

A bit more drinking

Hanging with the boys - after several skulling competitions (I did meself proud!)

half way around the dance floor (Lam Vong circle dancing) and the hose joins in the fun

no need for pissy water pistols - this is serious!

a bit more hanging with the gang at work - and more drinking

dammit, I missed the almost-hatched chickens - they went like hot cakes

... and then there are the public parties - the streets were full of crazy people.

The whole country gets into it. Two countries, actually. I spent some of the week in Udon, Thailand, where the streets were just as wet and just as crazy...

Here we go! A big pool of water, small buckets for drenching passing motorists, colourful clothes and an expectation of a whole lot of fun!

sales of water pistols went through the roof. So did other plastic crap like daggy sunglasses and plastic pirates swords (??)

Sweet little kids turned into gun-totin' bad guys

Water was thrown - constantly, at everyone, for days

Dress standards were slightly unusual for the usually reserved and conservative Laos

Even in Udon (Thailand) you weren't safe from buckets of (sometimes icy) water

Riding around in cars with boys with matching - or no - Tshirts

No car? No problem! Tractors can carry water too!

Udon craziness (cover your cameras!)

More partying, more shirts off

Big sales in kiddies wading pools at this time of year
Even the cops come prepared - not gun wrapped in a plastic bag (blurry pic, sorry!)

traffic jam in Udon - utes and tractors and anything that can carry buckets of water and lots of wet, often drunk, laughing people

At night in Udon - a big wet loud dance party in front of Central Plaza

Crazy kids getting into it (Julian wore his bathers around the streets - so practical!)
And to escape all the water throwing, we hung out in the pool!

But the real highlights of the season were the icecream sundaes at UD Town night food market.
Happy New Year to us!!

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