Halloween in Thailand: An Excuse for Body Paint, Music, and Fun
There are a couple of celebrations that one associates with Thailand. Songkran, their crazy water-soaked new year celebration in mid April, or the beautiful Loy Kratong tradition of floating decorated baskets on water in November. And then, of course, there are the countless Buddhism festivals and celebrations, but one thing I didn’t ever expect to be ‘celebrating’, was Halloween.
In the weeks leading up to Halloween, the shops filled with fancy dress outfits but not the usual Halloween things you’d see back home. Obviously there was no chance of ‘nipping down to the nearest pumpkin patch’ to pick your own, and I sadly didn’t see any carved pumpkins, but the Thai people have a very strong sense of fun and the temptation to dress up was too good an opportunity to miss. Outfits for sale lined the streets, market squares and shopping centres. Sadly most of them wouldn’t fit the average westerner as the Thai people are just so tiny.
So what had started out as a ‘quiet night in’ sorting out my new flat after moving to Hat Yai in the south of Thailand just a few weeks before, ended up as a night in some sort of makeshift graveyard/bar surrounded by fairies, demons, zombies, mummies and, me dressed as some sort of twisted 80’s rockstar with blue hair, an axe (it WAS last minute, okay?) and ‘blood’ in appropriate places. Not at all what I was expecting…
Obviously there was no chance of ‘nipping down to the nearest pumpkin patch’ to picking your own, and I sadly didn’t see any carved pumpkins, but the Thai people have a very strong sense of fun and the temptation to dress up was too good an opportunity to miss.
Some work colleagues who lived in the same apartment block as I did called at the last minute, and after a quick clothing exchange/tweak, some creative make-up and an artificial axe (you see, it WAS last minute), I was ready to go. We caught a tuk-tuk (the local transport which now had a totally bemused, if a little freaked out, driver) and headed to the local ‘westerner’ bar hangout which had been lined with black bin bags and cotton wool. Creatures dark and scary were hanging from the ceiling, and other dubious objects were lying around and generally doing a good job of looking creepy. The obligatory wooden coffin with skeleton greeted us as we walked in, and we were immediately offered a drink by a vampire. It was going to be a odd night.
It can be hard enough making friends in a new town when you can see people in broad daylight, but trying to have a conversation with a demon, a vampire, the Joker or a mummy covered in brown tape and toilet paper, does provide a challenge. But as the night progressed and after a few drinks and some luminescent body paint, loud live music and a competition for the ‘best’ dressed person, it all just became a damn good laugh.
Whilst the majority of people attending the party were westerners, there were many local Thais enjoying the atmosphere and totally acting the part of their Halloween costumes. Looking back, one of the most important lessons I learnt from my time living in Thailand was that just because we grown up, doesn’t mean we need to lose our sense of fun … and a fun night it certainly was.