This weekend is the Thai New Year and the Songkran Water Festival. Basically the entire country is in a giant water fight and NOBODY is immune to getting wet! It comes at the peak of hot season and the water splashing is quite refreshing! Chiang Mai is one of the go-to places in Thailand to celebrate. I have been in other places in Thailand during Songkran, but I have never seen anything like this! The moat that surrounds the old city is lined with people and the whole city is jammed with cars all around the moat and roads leading to/from the central city, and pretty much anywhere one can find a station of people ready to douse whatever person or vehicle comes along. It’s such a fun time, and perfectly good and right for everyone to soak a perfect stranger.
Think about it, grown-ups and kids playing squirt-guns and others riding around in the back of pick-up trucks with drums of water throwing buckets of water and cannoning everyone. It is license to PLAY – it is generally good clean fun and everyone has a great time. I remarked to my friends that it looks totally ridiculous to see adults with enormous brightly colored squirt guns running around. It IS GOOD to let go and get ridiculous sometimes – it is good for the soul indeed. Thailand is known as the land of smiles and this festival shows them off brilliantly.
The work is growing steady and sure. I’m networking like crazy in Thailand and am currently involved in a couple of networks of organizations working in counter-trafficking and general child-protection efforts. Within these networks, I’m working on developing some tools to assess the medical/health needs of the organizations, planning some trainings, and learning much about the current situation in Thailand. Meanwhile I am doing a few “red-light” clinics and am developing more with other groups. The international projects and travel have slowed a bit – this is a blessing as I need and want to focus on Thailand. Even so, the ones going are keeping me pretty busy! I still go to Cambodia fairly frequently (my next trip is in early May) as the medical advisor for the Chab Dai Coalition.
One of the upcoming things I’m looking forward to is that I’m going to start mentoring a Thai Pediatric resident who is also in my Friday night small group. She just finished her internship and has a couple more years to go. I’m also learning a lot from the couple of doctors who lead our small group, and it is a refreshing time (and helps me with my Thai language as well).
Of course I’m still running! I launched ChUG – Chiang Mai Ultrarunners Group – to help bring together those few hardcore runners who like to go long. It has been fun to have others to run with on Saturday morning long runs. Since long races (there is a 10k many weekends throughout the year) are few and FAR (as in distance) between, we sometimes hold our own “Cha-bu-duo” races – like the marathon we did for our friend whose goal is to run a marathon every month. He couldn’t find one that he could do in March, so we did one with him, complete with homemade medals!