Loy Krathong – the romantic Thai light festival

Written by Frank on December 2nd, 2009

© Frank P. Schneidewind

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Celebrations are nationwide with special events dotting the country. A recommended site by the author is the big festival in Bang Sai, Ayutthaya for all those who are between the former capital and the current one at the time. A taxi ride from Bangkok downtown should not exceed 320 to 350 Baht. From outer Ringroad just follow the signs to the Royal Arts and Crafts Center. You are not far here from Bang Pa-in’s Royal Palaces or the historic Ayutthaya, so smart combinations can be arranged with a day- and night trip. No need to bring lots of money here, as it is a Thai and not a touristic event! Every pond, every canal or river or body of water in the nation will be used for this event and be full of floating candles after dark. If you’re a first-timer, just follow any Thai crowd to a river or shoreline. The use of organic materials has become a law in Bangkok for their natural decomposition.

The events in Thailand show a strong North to South decline with Chiang Mai in the North being famed for burning paper lanterns that folks release, the “Loy Khoms” can remain visible for long in the pitch black sky. Other highlight-events are being held in the former capitals Sukhothai and Ayutthaya but with a more classical approach. We skip rebroadcasting the Loy Krathong fairytale here, it is a focal point on many websites already.

Expect a lot of traffic going that way! Just follow the flow, it will be police guided from far away and the hordes will be sent to parking lots and improvised parking lots. Public transport here collapses in the afternoon. Vehicles are all jam-packed with passengers heading for the venue.

The venue itself is always guarded by the Army and later we understood why! Her Royal Highness the Princess was expected here and no less then 4 Beauty queens from surrounding districts. Admission to the grounds was 50 Baht and that included all sorts of entertainment on a number of stages, spread over the large area in the park along the beautiful riverside of the mighty Chaophaya, the “River of Kings”.


Loy Krathong in Bang Sai, that is a yearly highlight for thousands of Thais
, official numbers are surely guesstimated, figures of half a million event-goers float on nice weather days in the media. The event does not appear crowded like a super bowl or 4th of July by the obelisk’s reflecting pool in Washington D.C.
, you always have enough room to breathe despite the large crowd there.

The Krathongs always have a colorful array of flowers surrounding the candles and they are precision built handicrafts. Orchids are used in variations by the score.

Krathongs are incredibly inexpensive here, traditional the revelers without a self-made one gear up at one of the many stores on the sidewalks here. Fully decorated and ready to float, they command 10, 20 or 30 Baht, depending on their size.

 

A contest area displays the most delicate and impressive Krathongs, the winners are put up here for public display:

The incense sticks are lit before the candles and the smell of those, the lights and colors are truly mixing to an outstanding blend, that I never witnessed in this intensity before.

Endless detail on some of these floats is shown and true Thai craftsmenship is unquestionable here. The masses move to a large part and we got carried across the entire park this way.

Some of those highly decorated Krathongs seem so top-heavy, they may never really float for long but we end up here at the water’s edge and get even more to see.

Small gold colored coins, usually 50 or 25 Satang pieces are added to the floats before their release in the water.

Thai style snackeria with superb foods served for small change also!

The youngest have a lot of fun too, it’s a family event and tons of kids are around also.

The site for placement for the Krathongs is a bit crowded at the shore:

 

Thousands float their candle boats on Loy Krathong Day, full of a lot of wishes for the coming year and a few small coins that naughty kids take. Some cry out, when a nearing incense stick burns their earlobe or a candle wax drops on their tiny hands, when they are grabbing the coins.

The majestic and huge Krathong on the river, tells commercial boats to stay clear of this area and provides a nice backdrop for the endless flow of burning floats going downstream.

The cost for this day was marginal, except the transport. Food was also very low priced. Drinks were sold cheaper directly from ice-boxes here than at the Supermarket! Unbelievable how great a day in Thailand can be without a lot of foreign tourists! Priceless the photo and video opportunities, but tripods will be difficult to haul around. We sure return here for another Loy Krathong!

© by Frank P Schneidewind

 

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