April 14, 2012

This is the time of the year when Joey and I head out into far away corners of the world on the quest for unique items to put in our assortment. Besides hitting the tradeshow circuit we venture into less known places with the hope of finding artisans that have not yet been introduced to the American market. These trips are also a welcome break from our daily routine of managing all the aspects of our online boutique. They reinvigorate our passion for what we are doing and our love of discovering new places.

This trip brings me back to Thailand where the much talked about magic is still very real. As a seasoned visitor to Thailand I thought I knew a lot about the Kingdom of Siam. Well, I guess I didn’t know about one tradition, a very wet one on top of all.

As a result of poor planning I ended up arriving in Thailand during the Thai New Year, the period when the sun enters the Aries zodiac. Songkran as the festival is called signifies a new beginning, renewal and time for reflection. The rituals include cleaning of the home, making offerings to local temples and monks, the cleansing of Buddha images and paying respect to the elders. All this sounds so peaceful and spiritual. Cleansing images of Buddhas has a much bigger real-life dimension though.

Bystanders walk up to a paraded statue to Buddha to cleans it with water
Bystanders walk up to a paraded statue of Buddha to cleans it. 

Songkran is water fight galore with participants throwing bucket loads of water at each other. Needless to say that everybody is a participant no matter what. It is common to see grownups unleash their inner warriors by driving around in pickup trucks that carry large barrels of water and by wielding high-tech water guns and showering just about anything that moves. The counter-attack often comes from battle groups on street corners equipped with fire hoses and even bigger buckets. The month of April tends to be the hottest month of the year and a little hosing down can be quite refreshing especially when ice blocks are added to the water to intensify the experience.

Motor tricycle getting splashed down

 There is no escape for this motor tricylce.

Ready to fire
This warrior has its next target in sight.

The water fight element can have a limited shelf life though. The first day is fun, the second it’s getting relentless and by the third you are asking yourself where to hide. And I stepped right into this slippery mess ready for business while all my prospects had only one thing in mind which is to unload their bucket of water on an unsuspecting passerby. I ended up doing the unthinkable. No, I did not buy my own water gun but I put on my swim trunks to walk through Chiangmai, Thailand’s second biggest city in the north, where the closest beach is about 1,000 miles away. I am glad I did. I was soaked from the moment I left my hotel.


Asian children sitting in a wagon filled with colorful plants and flowers.

 Not quite discernable on the picture but this boy and girl are soaked as bystanders pour water over them as a type of blessing.

A portrait of 2 smiling dark-haired girls in purple clothing

 The renowned Thai beauty.

Two boys dressed up in colorful Thai costumes.

 Dance as well as mock fight.

A girl carrying 2 baskets on a stick.

 It will take this girl about 4 hours to march the 2 mile parade.

A person playing a trumpet outdoors, viewed from the side.

 The trumpet plays to the beat of large drums.

Young man dressed in oriental outfit

 His function is first to get splashed and second to assist bystanders in cleansing the statue of Buddha inside the shrine


In the end I still managed to find a few local artisans who were ready to show me their treasures. Here is a limited selection of finds that might or might not find their way into KOUBOO’s product assortment:

Painted urns in a room.

 These urns and vases are 100% handmade. The intricate graphics are painted by hand as well.

A hand-painted urn with intricate floral designs in shades of blue, green, and yellow.


Engraved Celadon pottery piece.

 Hand carved jar. Note that the glaze is natural and its crackle is intended and not a defect.

A collection of big ceramic colorful vases.

 Originally conceived as rain drums to collect and store rain water during the rainy season.

Green rain drums with intricate designs.


A statue with buddhist features standing in a room.

 An impressive statue 9 feet tall and a shipping nightmare at the same time. 

I am off to my next destination where water is hopefully trapped either in the plumbing or in the clouds. And of course I am hoping for additional new finds.


Written by Patrice Gerber

Co-founder of KOUBOO LLC

Photographs © Patrice Gerber

Blog Post © KOUBOO LLC. All rights reserved.