The number of high-powered PVC-pipe water guns has diminished markedly, but the danger posed by armed Songkran revelers remains.
Banned years ago, the long-narrow PVC cannons persisted as the water gun of choice for young, shirtless European tourists roaming central Pattaya bar streets until recently. This year, the guns proved much harder to find on sale.
Shops, like Rung-Jarern, which has been selling water guns at the Naklua Market for two decades, has had to find other items to sell.
Owner Tongrian Premwinai, 44, said the most-popular item this year is the “jumbo” water gun, which has a water tank in a bag festooned with cartoon characters. All are relatively cheap, ranging from 280-390 baht.
Tongrian Premwinai, the owner of Rung Jarern store said, “These jumbo water guns are the most popular this year.”
Tongrian said all her water guns, even the CPS-5000 super-soaker shoots water at lower pressure than any PVC pipe.
That doesn’t mean they’re safe, however.
Australian tourist Ron Connell, 40, said he has nearly had several accidents due to being sprayed in the face by foreigners with the jumbo guns.
“I think the small kid-type water guns are fine and fun, but the big water cannons are dangerous,” Connell said. “I have seen them damage people’s eyes and, last year, my girlfriend’s aunt suffered a perforated eardrum and lost hearing for a while after being blasted.
“I enjoy the Pattaya water festival and I think 90 percent of people go there with the right attitude. It’s just the other 10 percent who, when I watch them play, I see in their faces they are there to hurt and upset people,” Connell said.