SITREP: Mission Accomplished. Novelty plastic garlands secured. Request permission to take out the old lady attempting to sing on stage.
Another year, another Loy Krathong festival at Klong Prao temple. These don’t really change much year on year. You know what you’re going to get. Occasionally there’s a nice surprise – a couple of years ago there were Chinese Lion dancers, which made things a bit more interesting. This year the bonus attraction was that the army was on hand to ensure that people had just the right amount of fun and not any more. The sight of a soldier in helmet, flak jacket and M-16 guarding a row of plastic garlands was amusing, yet simultaneously depressing.
What is it? This is a water festival where people to the river spirits for polluting the waterways of Thailand during the past year and also use the occasion to wish away bad luck that has accumulated during the past year. This is done by floating a gaily decorated ‘Krathong’ on the river or sea. These are usually made from the leaves and stems of banana plants plus dozens of sharp metal pins and staples which hold it together. You’ll be finding krathongs washed up on the beaches and river banks for the next month or two.
What to do? Eat bugs, fruit and meats on sticks. Shop for plastic items in a range of primary colours. Buy an entire wardrobe for under 200 Baht. Enjoy / endure super loud live music. Listen intently to local dignitaries making the most of their time on stage. There’s also plenty of beer and fireworks and in suburban areas it now has a reputation as the night where teenagers ‘get it on’ for the first time. So, you’ve got Valtentine’s Day + Bonfire Night + no heath & safety regulations. The end result is a fun night out.
If you missed this year’s festival then , make a note of the date of November’s full moon in 2015. Klong Prao temple is the place to be as that’s the main spot on the island for Thais celebrating.