It's Songkran, the Thai New Year, marked by Buddhist ceremonies and an exodus of people going back to their home provinces to be with their relatives and loved ones. The exodus began on Thursday so Bangkok's usually busy streets are now almost empty of traffic. But if you go out on an errand today expect to be drenched with water, as it has become a tradition for playful people to splash water on passers-by or on one another as part of the merriment. In the provinces especially, pick-ups ply the streets loaded with drums filled with water and youngsters on a water splashing spree, all in the name of fun.
PLEASING PORTABLES: Potted bird’s nest ferns make a beautiful addition to any garden.
In the sweltering summer heat drenching can be a welcome relief, not just to people but also to plants. Spare, therefore, a thought to the plants along the streets; splashing water to mark Songkran will have a more meaningful sense of purpose if you aim the water at these plants as well. I am thinking about bird's nest ferns (Asplenium nidus, known in Thai as ka luang) attached to small trees along Bangkok's streets in particular. Exposed to the hot sun, fumes from passing cars and heat emanating from the pavement, they are a sorry lot at this time of year, and most other months, for that matter.
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