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Loi Krathong Festival, Bangkok

The Thai have both a solar and a lunar calendar. Plus with so much Chinese influence and ethnicity mixed into parts of the country here, the Chinese lunar dates are also kept track of on wall calendars. I have yet to sort all this out and little interest in doing so. All I know is the year right now is 2552, well past the Mayan End of the Current World Date (2012) and so the Thai at least are home free. By one calendar or another November recently brought an important Thai holiday. On the full moon of the 12th lunar month, the Thai celebrate Loi Krathong.

At her job, Peung took part in a celebration that included a Noppamas Queen Contest, a sort of beauty pageant. Spectators bought plastic necklaces for 50 cents each and gave them to the contestants. The person with most necklaces wins and all money goes to charity.

Peung spent over an hour getting her hair pinned and pasted into a traditional hairdo and rented a Thai dress for the occasion.

She took a close second place and narrowly edged out the cross dresser from another department. It is Thailand after all. He looked alright, but that dress just made him look fat. And I don’t know WHAT he was thinking with those shoes.

Later that night we went to a park downtown with a large pond in it where we would listen to some monks chant a bit and release the little floating banana leaf wreaths with candles on them, an offering to the Goddess of the Water and a Thai gesture of good luck and letting go of anger.

Rather than take the SkyTrain which gets there from near my place in about 10 minutes, we drove with her family for an hour and a half. Well, the driving was probably still pretty close to 10 minutes, it was the sitting and idling that took so long. At least we had some anger to let go of then at the festival. Ah, the harmony of the universe.

At Benjisiri Park (the Queen’s Park) we lit our candles and slid krathongs into the water. Thousands of people were doing the same and the water was covered with flickering lights and colorful flowers. Some people put coins in their krathongs for more good luck. The Thai equivalent of pennies.
Along the shores a few folks who clearly believe nothing of karma tore apart krathongs that had blown back to the edge in search of the coins. Gees. The next day I flew from Bangkok north to Chiang Mai and arrived just in time for their more famous and definitely more magical Loi Krathong festival…

Kevin Revolinski

Author, travel writer/photographer, world traveler. Writes about travel, hiking, camping, paddling, and craft beer.

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