On November 17 , it will be time to grab a few hundred Baht’s worth of the finest Chinese weapons grade fireworks, a couple of large Beer Changs, and head down to the local river, ocean or large muddy pond to celebrate Loy Krathong – the Thai festival of something or other. Exactly what isn’t of importance. It’s an excuse to play with fireworks and drink beer if you’re a guy; or to sit with your friends and make decorative floats out of banana leaf, then drink beer and play with fireworks, and then do the washing up, if you’re a girl.
Once the beer’s been drunk; and the child who lost a couple of fingers when a rocket blew up in his hand taken to hospital; it’s time to go down to the river and place your decorated ‘krathong’ in the water. This then gently drifts off on the current, carrying with it your sins from the past year. Obviously, the symbolism may be lost in locations where Loy Krathong is celebrated by the sea as the wind and the waves can conspire to return your krathong to you. If you held your ancient animist beliefs close to your heart that would be you screwed for the next 12 months.
And where can you experience a cultural feast such as this on Koh Chang? – well pretty much everywhere. Buy a krathong from the stalls that will pop up by the roadside on the morning of the 17th and your hotel will have somewhere you can float it. The main festivities on Koh Chang will be at Klong Prao temple. The fair runs from 13 – 17 November and the highlight will be a candlelit procession led by monks, late at night, on the 17th to the sea where people will float their krathongs.
If you want a bit of a classier Loy Krathong experience, most of the large resorts will have festive Loy Krathong parties complete with buffet, Thai Dance show ( play spot the ladyboy if you want to liven things up ), Krathong making, and Nang Noppamas* Beauty Contest.
*Nang Noppamas was a royal courtier in bygone days and is credited with the invention of the Krathong, which in Thai eyes puts her up there with Thomas Edison and the Wright brothers. In her honour, every November full moon, females of all ages the length and breadth of Thailand celebrate her discovery by dressing up in traditional Thai style and applying way too much make-up then entering beauty pageants at the local temple.
Since the last update I’ve been away again on a quick trip to Koh Kood. It’s a great time to visit Koh Kood, which is the best island in Thailand for exploring by scooter due to it’s size; great beaches; waterfalls and total lack of traffic. Some photos below. Not ideal for everyone though as many resorts are a long way from local shops & restaurants and so you can find yourself spending all your time either in your resort or a neighbouring one on the same beach. Don’t expect much nightlife either.
The Tesco-ification of Koh Chang continues. Latest plans involve a new supermarket on Pearl beach, which has already begun construction. However, things get more interesting as apparently Koh Chang will be used as a model to show how local farmers and fishermen on islands can work together with Tesco to improve their own income and also help keep costs down. The more locally sourced produce they can sell, the less that has to be trucked in from elsewhere. A tie up between one of the ferry companies and Tesco is also in the works ( possibly) with cold storage facilities planned for near the pier on KC plus a Tesco Express store at both ferry terminals. What more could you want?
Muay Thai ( Thai boxing) finally comes to Koh Chang. For years I’ve been receiving emails every month from people planning to visit Koh Chang and wanting to learn / practice Muay Thai. And until now, there hasn’t been anywhere on the island that caters to this year round market. But now there is. A new Muay Thai training centre will be opening in the very near future in Bailan. Construction is virtually complete. There’s a website which has come details of prices and courses –
And yesterday I noticed what looks like another Muay Thai place being built in Klong Prao – just off the main road at the south end of the village. It’s hidden behind some shophouses but it’s design, a square, very high roofed, open sided building, indicates that it’s most likely use will be for Muay Thai training.
Thanks to Andy from KayakChang for doing me a deal on one of their North Shore sea kayaks and all the other bits of kit – carbon fibre paddle, spray deck & buoyancy aid. He’s just upgraded his fleet and so has a few boats available. If you’re looking to step up from a sit on top kayak, get in touch with him.