Last Wednesday, Thailand celebrated the festival of Loy Krathong. Basically, this is a time where people make small decorated boats (krathong) and float (loy) them on bodies of water – preferably rivers, but lakes, ponds, or the local canal cesspool work equally well in a pinch. This is supposed to bring good luck and blessings. T-bone and I had seen photos of the festival before arriving in Thailand, and we were excited to check it out. In theory, we wanted to visit one of the major celebration sites down town, but in practice, the time it would take to fight our way through the crowds would seriously interfere with our family eating tour.
Instead, we decided to check out a celebration that was closer to home. We got a hot tip from Todd’s favourite hot tip source – the cashiers at the local convenience store – that there was going to be a rager of a celebration at a wat (temple) 15 minutes from our apartment. Say no more. We packed the parentals into a taxi and and booked it over to krathong paradise.
We were a bit early for the real party to start, so we wandered around, taking photos of the lights and the few krathongs that were already floating in the wat’s pond.
It quickly became obvious that we were the only farangs in the joint, and we attracted a bit of attention. This – in my highly anecdotal experience – is typical of life in the ‘burbs. There are a lot of farangs downtown, and they sort of blend in/get ignored/are a nuisance, but in the suburbs, a farang is an exciting freakshow. Adults and children joyfully shout “Farang! Farang!” (although it usually sounds more like “Falang! Falang!”), and you get plenty of attention. This was certainly the case at the wat.
As we wandered around, we noticed a small congregation of people sitting next to a massive fire. We simply wanted to see what was going on, but before we knew it, we were being ushered into chairs, and asked to sit down. A long piece of white thread was passed around, and everyone in the congregation held on to it. And that’s how we found ourselves part of an unknown religion ritual. Oops.
It was difficult to see the entire ceremony clearly, but we did catch one of its more interesting aspects. White robed men heated molten metal in the fire, and when it was sufficiently hot, they poured it into a mold. They did this multiple times, amidst much chanting. We were about to excuse ourselves, when suddenly it was over.
We spent a little more time wandering around the wat, gaping and taking photos (because being farangs didn’t get us enough attention).
It was already a strange evening, but then Todd decided to make it stranger by taking us to a local bacteria fest (aka: an all-you-can-eat grill). The concept had merit, but the piles of mystery meat were a little off-putting.
We finished the evening by trying to fall asleep to the sultry accompaniment of blasting music, drinking, and fireworks. Just a wee party next to our local
cesspool canal. Gotta love that Loy Krathong.