Floats, Fights, and Fireworks: Loi Krathong

Loi Krathong is the most magical time of the year in Thailand, a three-day celebration of….I’m not exactly sure what.  This Festival of Lights seems to be a pretty good excuse for an extended party, with some symbolic gestures of longevity, good fortune, and spiritual cleansing thrown in.

If you ever plan a trip to Southeast Asia, Loi Krathong is one of those events  you shouldn’t miss.  The weather is cooler, for one thing, especially in the northern provinces.  DP and I were lucky enough to be in Chiang Mai when the shenanigans went down.  The party starts on the full moon of the 12th lunar month, which is 6 November this year.

Every time we turned a corner, a parade was gearing up.  There were beauty pageants, krathong competitions, so much food, and thousands of lights in the sky from the khom loi lanterns.  We ate like royals and spent more than one intoxicated night wandering the streets of the old city, shooting bottle rockets and narrowly avoiding fights with foreigners and bar girls.

Have you ever found yourself in front of a Thai bar at 1 a.m., scooter helmet in hand, shouting at a French tourist that you speak English, and the next minute spouting off in Thai to a local? Meanwhile, your partner in crime is sizing up everyone involved.  Not the wisest thing we’ve ever done, but it makes for a good story.

Ah, romance.

Loi Krathong.  It was love, it was laughter, it was arms-in-the-air-howling-at-the-moon good times.

Everywhere we go, DP sings

Loi, loi krathong

over and over, because those are the only lyrics he knows.

I hope to see it all again some day.  I long to get lost in a melee of elaborate costumes and loud explosions, the smell of fireworks lingering in the song-filled, electric atmosphere.

Wait for me my the River Ping.


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