22:18 Natasmack 0 Comments

Before heading to South East Asia, I had nothing planned except where I was spending the first few nights. There was an important moment where I couldn't just say "I'll see what happens". My Grandma, an eternal worrier, couldn't understand why I would do such a thing.  I quickly started googling photos and reading her clips from Wikipedia about Thai culture to show her that Thailand isn't what she thought it was. This is when I discovered Loi Krathong.

Loi Krathong is a celebration that happens on the full moon in last month in the Thai lunar calendar (November). It traces back from the Hindu festival Dipawali, a celebration for the Ganges river. As per my World Wide Web research, Thai culture adapted it to honour Buddha. I've asked several people what the festival meant to them and I got some mixed messages. I was told that it is essentially a Thai New Year, that it's to celebrate water, or its a time to forget the past and bring in new opportunities. It could be all of these combined or its up to interpretation. 

Chiang Mai is a popular spot to celebrate Loi Krathong. Traditionally there are paper lanterns released into the sky and krathongs are set on the river. A Krathong is made of banana leaves and the wood of the banana tree. It's decorated with flowers, incense, candles and some people leave offerings like locks of hair or money. I also saw some krathongs made of coloured bread shaped in animals and colourful ice cream cones. Which the fish can eat! The lantern and the Krathong are symbols of the past years sins, or misfortunes and wishing to bring in a wonderful new year.

I didn't send off a lantern. All I could think about was being responsible for burning someone or someone's house. That would be a brutal way to start a new beginning. Although I do want all the good luck I can get. I opted to set two Krathongs on the Mae Peng River. The first night of the festival I set them off with some new friends I made on my travels. I felt a little rushed and didn't have the experience I as expecting. The second night was magic. I had made my own Krathong at my hostel. I decorated it with banana leaves, daises, and orchids. 

Getting to the river on the second day was an adventure itself. My new friend Sophie and I were surrounded by people, street food carts, an elaborate parade, fireworks and of course lanterns being launched. Every where I looked there was something to be in awe of. At one point Sophie and I were constantly staring up. There were THOUSANDS of lanterns capturing the sky with the light of the full moon. Photos couldn't capture the beauty of it. You truly have to be there.  

When we arrived to the river, we snuck under a bridge and set off our creations. Sending my Krathong off was ceremonial for me. I had the toughest experiences of my life last year. Having a symbol to see my challenging year leave my hands, along with thousands of other people's was emotional and much needed. After my mini cry fest, Sophie and I went to eat amazing street food. The best way to celebrate a new beginnings. 

I could write a novel about my experience at Loi Krathong. I felt like I've changed a from it all. Nothing is more beautiful and inspiring then seeing a sky filled with lanterns, a river with floating candles and smiling people everywhere. Thailand, you friggin rock.