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Thailand, Loy Krathong and Yi Peng – The Best Experience of Lifetime – VIDEO

Published: 1.12.2015
When you say Chiang Mai people mostly think of Chinese lanterns, hundreds of them flying towards the full moon. I spend the better part of winter in this north Thai town. When I planned my journey there I didn’t hope for making it to see the festival. Eventually I made it. And it was the best experience of my life.

Loy Krathong means something like “send a basket on water”. And this is what happens during the 12th full moon of the year festival. People send a basket decorated in flowers, a burning candle stick, aroma sticks, and good wishes they hope will come true. These symbols should prevent misfortune to happen and many Thais also the mother of water Phra Mae Kong Ka and Buddha. Lanterns and candles are lit at the festival in many houses and temples.

thajský festivalthajský festival

In the north of Thailand (particularly in Chiang Mai) another holiday is celebrated on the same day – Yi Peng. Thousands of lanterns are let in the air. The symbolism of the act is similar to Loy Krathong. People let go their misfortunes with their lampions and they also add a wish or two, or a prayer.

A parade moves off on the street which is embroidered with lanterns. They are heading towards the river where the main events take place. People there have been letting on the river their „krathong” already. It is easy to buy one as they are sold literary everywhere and come in all sizes – small, large, of flower shape, turtle shape, made of pastry… It is up to you what you like. If it was not so warm here it would resemble our New Year’s eve for people set off fireworks and throw crackers. Crazy. Night markets crowd the streets around. The amount of food here is endless and the crowd at the stalls impenetrable.

thajský festivalThai festival

thajský festival

I taste all kind of things – local sushi, perfect bbq, fresh passion fruit juice – you name it. The Thais really know how to make great food. However, being in the crowd is tiresome for me. I return back to the wonderful pink bike of my and move off towards home.

thajský festivalthajský festivalthajský festival

Another sunset. Today things will get bigger. I stop by at several lesser temples. I enjoy peaceful atmosphere and observe monks in yellow robes. They ignite candles or replace them if they have already burned down. Even some locals come in here to light their candles. It is bit noisier at the memorial to the kings. Lanterns are all above your head. The fire is kept by incoming Thais and even visitors to the festival. Once anyone ignites a candle he or she can say his or her wish and hope for it to come true.

Thai festival

I ride on on my bike afer while. Then I see endless stream of yellow lights ascending up to the moon. I have goose bumps and feel tears bursting into my eyes. I really haven’t expected something like this. I reach the river, park my bike and go towards the bridge. There most of the lanterns are let go. Today, cars are forbidden to enter, therefore it is easy to walk through even though there is even more people than usual.

thajský festival

Thai festivalthajský festival

Huge paper lantern are slowly filled with hot air and then ascend to the skies. One after another and many new appear every moment. It doesn’t even matter that tourists release a great deal of them. Sacred atmosphere is felt in the area. Many people are excited and wave and many of them are moved to tears (me included). Many more candles arrive on the river and the city smells real nice thanks to all these aromatized sticks. It is truly difficult to describe. One must just experience it to understand.

Thai festivalThai festival

One should stop when the things are at their best. So, I return by my bicycle back home. I take a break for a great noodle stoop at my favorite place and I eat bit more chili than usual so there are even some tears. When I get in the city center most of the temples I try to visit are closed or nothing is happening there. I almost give up when I get to a timbered temple. Last year I took some of my favorite pictures there. The whole temple is embroidered with lanterns. Lighting candles are everywhere on the ground around the temple. I enter and immediately feel sacred atmosphere stronger than by the river. The interior smells like aroma sticks. Quiet meditation music is in the background. The surface of a small pond in the middle reflects this wonderful place. In the distance I can see endless stream of lights going up to the moon...

GPS: 18°42'08.8"N 98°59'01.3"E

Text, photo and video: Matouš Vinš

Music: Oskar Schuster

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