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Publication Date : 11-04-2014
The water festival turns lots of people into anti-social shut-ins. They can have their own kind of fun.
Thanks to the Songkran Festival, mid-April in Thailand is not for the faint-hearted. Gleefully stretched out from today through next Wednesday, the country's biggest annual celebration can also be the most annoying and uncomfortable time of year for anyone who's not fully prepared.
Getting soaked to the bone with every venture outdoors is the primary experience in modern times during a festival that once involved no more than the gentle pouring of scented water over the hands of one's elders. Nowadays tens of thousands of people take to the streets for the revelry of soggy combat, armed with formidable water artillery, but not everyone appreciates the raucous turn that tradition has taken.
The ideal escape is overseas, but if that's beyond your reach, you can simply stay indoors for the duration of the festival, and it doesn't necessarily have to resemble a zombie-apocalypse movie where the shut-in survivors subsist on canned food and grim determination. Here we offer a few suggestions on how to make your Songkran lock-down enjoyable - even festive!
You're walking home, buckets of water fly, and you can't even raise your arms in defence because you're loaded down with bags of groceries. This is not usually fun. So, instead, have you're food delivered. Tesco Lotus and Tops Supermarket both have online shopping and will deliver to your door any day. Let their people get soaked (as long as your doughnuts stay dry). Both accept debit and credit cards as well.
All the fresh produce, frozen foods, household products and even pet food at Tesco Lotus can be delivered any day (and several times a day if you need it) from 10 to 10. The fee is a flat 60 baht and it doesn't matter how much you spend. Go to www.TescoLotus.com.
Tops Supermarket will deliver your care package for free if your spend 999 baht or more. Otherwise it's 150 baht. You can get same-day delivery only if you order before 1pm. Go to www.Tops.co.th.
On any holiday it's perfectly reasonable if you don't feel like cooking, but during Songkran there's the added hazard of venturing out to restaurants. Get your cooked grub instead from Foodpanda.co.th, choosing dishes from a list of hundreds of good-quality restaurants and having it delivered straight to your door for a small fee. Foodpanda's phone application (iOS and Android) means you can place an order in less than 10 seconds. During the festival the delivery hours are noon to 9pm.
No point letting the waterlogged hordes outside have all the fun, so stock up on alcohol via Wish Beer (www.WishBeer.com or www.Facebook.com/WishBeerThailand). You can choose among 400 brands of premium beer from all over Europe, by the bottle or the "discovery case" - a mixed sampler of flavoured craft beers priced at 1,550 baht. Delivery is free if you spend 2,000 baht. Spend at least 4,000 baht and they'll knock 10 per cent off the overall bill.
If you had the foresight to pack your liquor cabinet in advance, all you need are some tips on making "best-ever" cocktails from veteran mixologist Joseph Boroski.
"Here's the check list: booze - no bottom-shelf bottles, please - fruit or juice, sugar, syrup or sweetener, lemons or limes or some other sour fruit. Green mango can work in a pinch," he says.
"Cut up one or two kinds of fruit and mash it with the back of a spoon or a wooden papaya-salad stick to get the juice. Then add the booze - somewhere between 30 and 60ml is strong enough for most people.
"Then comes the sweetener. Whatever you use, make it generally about half to three-quarters the amount of alcohol. If your fruit is a bit tart, you might need only a little bit of lime or lemon. But usually we'll add about the same or a bit more as the sugar or syrup or honey. Lastly, add ice and stir!"
If you hit a snag, start to panic or just want share the excellent recipe you've devised, tag Boroski on Twitter @sipslowly or Instagram #sipslowly.
YOU'LL NEED TUNES
Unfortunately Bangkok's favourite DJ, Octo, doesn't do house calls and tomorrow he's booked for a party with the wet crowd, but bless him, he has mix tapes ready to download for free at www.Octo.co.uk/songkran2014. Put them all together on a shuffle or loop and you're good for the whole night.
The gloom of your lonely albeit dry home can further be lightened by shopping online at B2S, which also delivers. Browse through the heaps of movie and music DVDs, magazines and stationery for the kids. Delivery is free if you spend at least 499 baht, Monday through Saturday from 8:30am to 6pm, cash only. Have a look at www.Central.co.th/en/B2S or call (02) 730 7777.
If you absolutely, positively must sneak outside, travel dry with GrabTaxi (and enjoy the traffic-free roads of Songkran). It's a new application for Android, iOS, Windows and BlackBerry Q10 and Z10 phones through which you can book a taxi with as little as two hours' notice and as much as seven days in advance.
The app sends your location via FourSquare and Google to all available taxis in the area. A taxi driver will call to confirm and then come pick you up, charging 25 baht on top of the meter total. The app itself is free and available in both Thai and English. Get the details at www.Facebook.com/GrabTaxiTH.
Meanwhile, if you've ever tried to wash a cat, you know they hate Songkran even more than you do. But maybe they have to go see the vet or get some grooming during the festival. What you do is call Mee Pet Taxi at (084) 663 3995 or log on to www.Facebook.com/MeePetTaxi. Their fares start at 300 baht.
Thong Lor Pet Hospital has its own taxi service for animals, daily from 9 to 5, if you need to get to any of its nine branches around Bangkok. It also has vets on standby 24 hours a day. That's (02) 712 5563 or www.ThonglorPet.com.
US$1 = 32.17 baht