UPDATE: It's long past midday now and the joke is up. Yes, this was our April Fool's story - and yes, we did only one April Fool's story this morning. The rest of the news was actually real. We hope you enjoyed it.
The first collections began early this morning (April 1) in Rassada, explained Wailoon Sotsai, who has been tasked with recovering unneeded water in the densely populated area located north of Phuket Town.
“Many good villagers have come forward, saying they want everyone to enjoy Songkran this year,” Mr Wailoon said.
“Most homes in the area don’t have much water, but they’re willing to give any water they have spare,” he added.
However, business owners have been less charitable, Mr Wailoon noted.
“But that is understandable, considering they might not have enough,” he said.
Water trucks stand at the ready at municipalities and local tambon administration organisations (OrBorTor) across the island from now until Thursday next week (Apr 11) to collect water, explained Wanlop Duwop Dahwapbhambhum, tasked with collections across Phuket.
“That will give us just one day to make sure the water is where it is needed for Songkran, but we expect local councils to keep the water they each collect for their own festivities in their respective areas,” he added.
The move comes amid a flurry of ideas from officials in how to make sure there is enough water for the annual national waterfight, often slighted as far removed from the traditional Songkran water blessing ceremonies held to honour elders and other respected figures among the community.
“We held a meeting on Friday (Mar 29) to decide what to do, and this seemed to be the best idea,” Mr Wanlop said.
“Some people wanted to recycle water from the wastewater plants, which could be done, while others wanted tourists to be able to buy their own ‘Songkran gift bag’ at the airport, which would contain suncream, goggles, a small towel and a small bag of water with a watergun,” he added.
“The gift bag idea got a lot of support, as at least that way tourists will have some water to use for having fun, but some people worried about how much tourists would be charged,” Mr Wanlop said.
Some serious concerns were also raised at the meeting, Mr Wanlop explained.
“We had received complaints that people had heard online that we were collecting water just so we can put it back into the reservoirs,” he said.
“That is not true – any water collected is to be used for Songkran celebrations only,” he assured.
Meanwhile, Mr Wanlop urged anyone with spare water that they were willing to donate to the #SaveSongkran initiative, as it has been called in the online campaign, to call his office at 076-191555.
“I am glad we finally came up with something about this,” Mr Wanlop said.
“And today seemed like the best day to get the campaign started,” he smiled.