I should be very pleased with how Bangkok handles its party city aura. To have a truly enjoyable night out in this city, you must be out by 7:30 pm and getting tipsy by 8-9:00 pm. Go out late, say, 10:00 pm, and you miss the best seats and people in the crowd are already on their way to sobering up. This teaches you to schedule your nights out responsibly. But do you always want your nights out to be scheduled properly? You do not.
In Manila, you text friends at 10:00 pm and tell them, ‘I’m in the cab now and on my way!’ while you’re stepping out of the shower, secure in the knowledge that they will believe your claim of being stuck in eternally horrific EDSA traffic – they know how it is and they will spin the same yarn about traffic. You shower at a very early 10:00 pm if you feel like being punctual for once.
You arrive at your pre-party bar, usually Barcino or Distillery at The Fort, profuse with apologies. Mostly, no one cares and your friends would even commiserate. By 12:00 midnight, you go to the main bar whose bouncers are at their most alert and from 12-1:00, Manila party peak hours. At 00:00 in Bangkok, you’re on your way home telling your party companions in Line that you had fun! In Manila, you call in sick for work the next day because there’s no way you would make it to the office after partying ‘til 4-5:00 am. Here, you take an instant soberer sold in 7 Eleven.
I should be very pleased because, like my daddy, I believe that conversations beyond midnight cease to make sense – I’m okay to separate from friends when the conversations start to get punctuated with yawns. He had a more cutting phrase for it but the essence of his belief is that you’re bound to find yourself deep in bullshit, enjoyment-free conversations if you stretch your drinking sessions when the beer stops tasting like heaven (if it ever did) and starts to have the consistency of vomit.
During this year’s Songkran, I was home by midnight, very safe and quite dry. I wasn’t shivering in my soaked shirt and shorts and not delirious with naughty glee from the water-splashing extravaganza. My face was chalk-free and my feet were just sufficiently yucky from Silom’s muddy sidewalks strewn with trash. On the contrary, last year was truly gross and dirrty. Songkran 2015 had us crawling our way through Soi 4 and debating the merits of going home while things were just beginning to get interesting. But that’s nothing compared to Songkran 2012. Tiger beer in hand, I was destroying Caucasian men and women with my water-powered armalite, demolishing fellow tourists left and right.
I’ve only been to a few Songkrans and I hold no authority on fun, but it looks like the joyousness is drying up. As long as there’s water and soaking-wet voluptuous people in white shirts or shorts, there ought to be no lack of joy for people who delight in such a sight. I don’t know if Songkran is getting repetitive for me or the festivities have really been watered down so that the water fights seem very controlled and less outrageous, but it doesn’t feel as fun as it used to. This year, Songkran was just sexy.