I keep thinking (this is something I’m sure you have also asked yourself before) why is it so challenging to keep a balance between the following two things? When you have time – you have no money; and when you have money – you have no time. Maybe it’s difficult because neither of these two things is really real? One is a man-made tool, a system, and the other is just a perception. It’s even more mind-boggling to think that we don’t really have anything in life apart from perception, and you either have to pay for it, or give it up in order to pay for it.
When I was a student or unemployed, I used to have heaps of time, so much time that I used to waste it. At the same time, of course, I wanted to do things I needed to pay for, such as travelling. And trains in England weren’t, and still aren’t cheap. Then I entered the world of work, and everything… no, it didn’t change overnight. It only changed ever so slightly, and I still wasn’t travelling a whole lot. Auste and I started exploring tiny pockets of Europe, but only for short periods of time, and started camping around Yorkshire on weekends.
Now that I’ve come to Thailand – a place I used to only dream about, I’m stuck in the same situation – I am working, but again pressed by the scarce resource of time. This time, however, it is different, as the number of places on my bucket list has increased tenfold, which adds more to the imbalance of finding the right path [to happiness].
Starting a new career in a new country with a new culture and new everything does feel exciting, but it has its drawbacks too. For example it has taken months to find a liveable place in a good neighbourhood, sort all the paperwork, perform joyous acts of visa-runs, open a bank account, meet people, scavenge for healthy food, exercise, continue with the things I want to do to grow as a person and so on. It is so difficult to find the time to explore, and there are millions of people on the same boat. For me weekends and short holidays usually don’t associate with recovery, they just allow extra time to catch up with work.
This wasn’t the case recently, when I had the [mandatory] opportunity to experience the best festival I have ever been to – Songkran. Also known as the Thai New Year. It is mostly known for its unique water fights and splashy blessings, and it’s nought to impossible to resist joining the friendly cheerful crowds of locals and tourists alike. For at least three days the whole country becomes THE festival, and for that period of time they cannot be counted as two different entities.
The celebration lasts anything from 3 (officially) to 14 days, and if you’re in Thailand – you can’t NOT be a part of it. Youngsters, adults, elderly, babies, even government employees paint their faces, or in most cases get their faces painted, and splash, or get splashed, with water lierally everywhere at any given time of the day. Many streets are closed and you can buy water guns on every corner.
Public institutions close, and shops have reduced working hours. Most of the smaller shops, including the mom-and-pop stores stay open, however most of them have a water station with barrelfuls of water, hoses and bowls ready. If you happened to walk past, they would bless you with a friendly smile and a nice bowl of refreshing water all over you – head to toes.
The beautiful part is that this giant party is not about intoxicating or using other substances, it’s just about playing with water and appreciating the present moment. There are debates about this though, whether it’s appropriate to ‘waste’ one of the world’s most important resources in such a manner.
This celebration was in perfect alignment with the balance I was looking for, and I felt incredibly happy. There is a saying that a picture paints a thousand words, so I wonder how many words a video depicts?
A video of Auste and myself attacked by the ‘Songkranists’ on public transport during Songkran in Bangkok, and some pictures below.
More photos from this amazing festival on our Flickr page.