The afternoon I slowly realized I made a mistake at my Thailand travel plans was probably the worst moment I ever experienced during my travels (yep, worse than not finding Singapore’s entry or being stranded in Rome with a broken car). I was drenched in tears. Literally.
So what happened? I have always been dreaming of participating in Thailand’s Loy Krathong (or Yi Peng?) festival – the only problem is that I’m going to be a teacher soon(ish) and the festival always takes place at the end of October/beginning of November where usually my semester or later on the school year is running. Because I didn’t want to wait until retirement I decided to take a gap year, go to Australia as an Aupair and go to Thailand first and participate in the lantern festival there. I planned my whole trip around the festival – just to realize that there are two lantern festivals in Thailand and I mixed them up. Yep, this was a reason for me to cry. A bit.
In more detail (for everyone who wants to avoid the lantern festival-disappointment): Yi Peng takes place a little outside of Chiang Mai in Mae Jo University. Here, monks and visitors let their lanterns fly into the sky altogether after a short ceremony. This is where I wanted to go to.
And then there’s Loi Krathong. It takes places inside Chiang Mai with a parade through the streets of the city (you can compare it with carnival) and also you can let your lantern (lots of Thais sell selfmade-lanterns the days before the festival) float on the river. This is the festival I participated in.
It’s not that bad, you may think now and you’re right. Of course it was great to participate in this festival, I bought a lantern, brought it to the river where it was extreeemely muddy and handed it to one oft he Thais who was standing in the river just to put all the lanterns on the river. And when I was looking at my lantern on the river I felt, despite the festival-disappointment, bliss.
And hey, there were lots of tourist who also didn’t know the difference between Loy Krathong and Yi Peng and who let the lanterns fly in the sky. Not as many at Yi Peng, but still. :)
And also I have a reason for visiting Thailand again and taking a gap year – I still don’t want to wait for Yi Peng until retirement!