Thailand is a land of entrancing and enticing tastes for worldwide visitors as I was to learn when I experienced the Water Holiday of Loi Kathong on the island of Ko Chang.
A few years ago the travel bug severely bit me. The symptoms led me to sell my company, pack a small rucksack with essential items and roll into Los Angeles International Airport with a major credit card and an attitude. A few days later, I was in Thailand and en route to the island of Ko Chang, located near to the border with Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand.
Ko Chang is a densely forested island with little towns full of beach huts. This is exactly what I was after; spending days goofing off in the sun and contemplating my navel. Regrettably, I soon experienced the local bacteria, which was not what I was after.
Since I had leased my beach bungalow for a week with payment in advance, the family running the place looked me upon graciously. They took pity on me and I was soon growing plumpish on Tom Yom Kung and other soups and curries. After four days, I had finally kicked the bug and felt halfway human. This was good news as it was the night of the full moon water festival.
I had heard of full moon festivitiess in Thailand. For hard partying tourists, this was apparently the night the big beach parties happened. In Ko Chang, it was a little different as the night was tailored to the local Thais, not tourists.
The Loy Kathong Holiday happens every year during the full moon of the 12th lunar month – usually at the end of November. Offerings are given to appease the water spirits. These offerings come in the form of banana leaf bowls (krathongs) with flowers, fruit, candles and incense. The candles and incense are lit and everyone heads down the beach and starts putting them in the water. It is one of the more amazing light shows you will ever see and beats Las Vegas hands down. Thousands, and I mean thousands, of little lights bobbing on the surface of the smooth sea.
After the bowls, comes one of the most visually amazing things I’ve ever seen. Everyone is familiar with the paper lanterns used in Asia. Typically, they come in the form of a rectangle form with a bamboo or light wire frame. Very popular with college students since they are cheap and look better than a bare light bulb.
For the celebration, Thais would take these paper lanterns and close off the top. They would then affix a small this paper plate to the bottom with a candle on it. Light the candle, wait for the heat to do its work and they had an instant hot air balloon. Once the lanterns could float, you simply let go and off the slowly went over the ocean. It was a sight to see as there were thousands of them floating over the water.
As the festivities wound down, the sea had been transformed. The air was full of gracefully floating lanterns while the water itself was dotted with slowly bobbing points of light.
If you intend to travel to Thailand, make sure you schedule your trip around a full moon in late November for Loy Krathong. It is a scene you’ll never forget.
Author: larwestThis author has published 4 articles so far. More info about the author is coming soon.