Don’t get a gun, get a bucket
I returned to Luang Prabang just so I could get a taste of the Lao New year from the 13 to 15 of April, the hottest month of the year in Laos. Rightly so, children will be out to get you wet you as a form of wishing you good luck, to welcome monsoon season, and most importantly, because it’s so freaking fun. Whether you are young, old, foreign, wearing fancy clothes or nothing. Thou shall be drenched.
So instead of a narrative I’ll just give you Five tips to have a great Lao new year
1. Don’t get a gun, get a bucket.
The truth is, water guns are to sprinkle, from far away. All foreigners buy them on the market, but Laotians in their new year, look to drench. You quickly realize that the money you just paid is futile against buckets and hoses, so get one and participate in the fun like Laotians do.
2. Don’t wear a swimming suit
You may think “aha! I’m so clever! If I’m going to get drenched then let it be in my bathing suit.” Laotians would never dare wear western bathing suits, let alone on the street, so this would be downright disrespectful. Be fully dressed, and suck it up. You will dry…. Eventually.
3. Sand sand sand
Make a sand stupa! If you are in Luang Prabang, the celebration takes place on the island across the river. There you can help make stupas with locals or attempt to make one of your own. Traditionally you can also bring sand to the temples and make them there, but that may be more of a hassle and probably reserved for the locals.
4. Free some animals
It is seen as good luck to give animals back their freedom, and you will find many little birds in makeshift bamboo cages or fish swimming inside small plastic bags being sold on the street. It’s funny cause obviously these animals were free before they caught them for this purpose but het, it’s tradition! So free a bird, a fish, a snake and get some good karma thrown your way.
5. Meet a local and join his/her “gang”
I was lucky to be with my new travel friend Michael who met a local guy named Taht, online. Taht took us to the corner where his friends were all wearing matching shirts and comfortably drenching passerby with a hose and multitudes of buckets. It was fun to look for all the foreign people and get them wet with this “gang”. You can also go on one of the pick up trucks that go around the city.