Yi Peng and Loy Krathong in Chiang Rai 2015
I got to Chiang Rai on 26th November. It was the final day of the Yi Peng Festival (floating lanterns) and the day people in Chiang Rai celebrated Loy Krathong (floating baskets on water). There was a parade happening on the main street towards the highway.
The parade started out slow, as Thai people from different communities gracefully danced across the road in their traditional garb. Trucks blasting earworm Loy Krathong jingles while pulling parade floats ahead.
We followed the snaking parade line and walked ahead, curious to know if they were stopping somewhere.
Turns out the floats and dancers stopped at a temple where there was a festival going on. It was all locals, didn’t spot any tourists in sight besides us. We were offered free snacks and drinks and games from some stores.
There was a street party going on below the highway, away from the peaceful and festive mood of the temple. Vendors sold firecrackers of all sizes, fireworks, the paper lanterns and the loy krathong baskets. People were setting off firecrackers and fireworks from the bridge and the highway, while others were setting the Loy Krathong baskets into the water below the highway. It was spectacular. The idea of setting off these baskets into the water while having dinner and beer by the steps, while constantly hearing fireworks going off in the background, find inner peace within chaos?
At first that feeling was novel. Everyone was chill, spending time with their family and friends. But after an hour, the sounds of fireworks and firecrackers began sounding to me like sounds of explosions and bombs. It wasn’t that novel anymore, it was kind of scary.
Although i love the thai people and their level of calm when dealing with a firecracker that happened to fall on their lap from the highway overhead. No fuss and complains, just be.
So we went back to the temple grounds to have dinner and enjoy the live music and dancing.
TIP: Remember to pluck a strand of hair and place it into your Loy Krathong basket as it symbolises letting go of all one’s hatred, anger and all that negativity.