my travels around Thailand and Asia

Loi Krathong

Three weeks into the new term, everything seems to be settling in nicely. The kids are starting to warm up to us and spending time in the classroom seems a lot more enjoyable. We have moved into the new house and are extremely happy there. We scored a unbelievable bargain price-wise (touch wood, nothing is in stone yet), we are in walking distance from the new school and have some great neighbors (our previous neighbors were a little rough, if you know what I mean).Sometimes it’s good to take a break from all the kids and being able to skip out every now and then for a home cooked lunch is a good feeling (especially because we love cooking and some cravings can not be satisfied at the school canteen). However they do have good ‘som tam’ (spicy papaya salad), which we eat on the days we don’t have time to leave. Here are a few pictures of the new school and a little information about loi krathong.

the incredible view from my classroom

pee dumprick (the super friendly music teacher who does amazing things on a wood saw) and wayne sporting that fashionable hat

angela in full pose

m1/1 (my top dogs)

hard at work (just pretending)

grace (the english science teacher)

m1/3 (the bad boys)

teachers hard at work preparing for 'loi krathong'

extraodinary detail

the before shot of the 'krathong' that won first prize

1st prize

Loi krathong is a festival in Thailand that we had no clue even existed. Arriving in Thailand in December 2010, I missed it by one month and over the next 11 months it never came up, even though we took part in Songkran (the biggest festival in Thailand also known as the water festival). One day at school Pee Dum (the friendly music teacher, who has actually made music on a wood saw, no word of a lie) asked us to speak about ‘Loi Krathong’ at the morning assembly. With shock we looked at him and said ‘Loi Krathong’ what, whats that. Bemused he laughed at us and asked if we could do some research and speak the next day, so this is what we found out. Loi Krathong also known as the festival of lights is held on the full moon in the 12th lunar month of the Thai calender. In our western calender this would be November.  They chose this day, because the tides are meant to be at their highest and the moon at its brightest, creating a beautiful setting to celebrate this festival.

A krathong is usually a lotus shaped raft that floats in the water. Krathongs are made from basic materials (banana leaves, the trunk of a banana tree or a spider lily plant) easily found around the towns or villages. They can typically take the shape of lotus in full bloom, swans, chedis (stupas), and Mount Meru from Buddhist mythology. However krathong floats in the shape of lotus blossoms are most popular. During the release of the krathong, Thai’s pay their respect to the water goddess and ask her to cleanse their bodies of all troubles and misfortune. They give offerings of flowers, small money, candles and incense. Some very superstitious Thai’s (us included) are also known to place hair, nails and pieces of clothing into the krathong.  At dusk, as the full moon begins to rise, the krathong is decorated with fresh flowers and the candles and incense sticks are placed in the krathong. The float is then taken to a waterway where the candle and incense sticks are lit and the krathong set adrift. The floats are carried downstream by the gentle current, candlelight flickering in the wind. Soon after, attention turns to celebration. The evening’s festivities consist of impressive firework displays, folk entertainment, stage dramas, song and dance.

We made plans to meet our friends at the ‘river restaurant’, a favorite of ours. The river restaurant is basically a persons house on the river that has some tables outside and serves some really outstanding food. The setting is really beautiful and the people are super friendly.  To name a few dishes, the ‘tom yum gong’ (lemony hot and sour soup) is something special, ‘plaa thord’ (fried fish with garlic) out of this world and the famous ‘som tam’ (spicy papaya salad) incredible. After filling our stomachs to their maximum potential and releasing our krathongs into the river, we found ourselves at O’s (our local hangout), had a couple beers and finally finished the festival off at the park, where the night transformed into a magical experience with fireworks, lanterns, more beer and good friends.

the full moon on loi krathong

buying the krathongs

taryn, micky and mini (apparently thats their nicknames, works for me)

the three of us ready to send off our krathongs

and there it goes, all sins forgiven

emma running wild

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2 responses

  1. Helen de Villiers

    Amazing and so exciting. The university of life.

    So proud of you.

    Mom South Africa

    November 20, 2011 at 9:17 am

  2. Great post bud. Your school looks pretty cool and I’d never heard of that festival either but sounds like fun and I’m jealous you got to set off lanterns. We bought some in China but they were actually illegal in Hangzhou, because of proximity to the airport I think, and so we never got round to lighting them.
    You make Thailand look and sound quite appealing.

    November 22, 2011 at 8:18 am

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