Hello! I decided to combine two weeks into one again as I haven’t quite caught up yet from my last village post. These past few weeks back in Chiang Mai with classes at Payap have been nice! We got to experience the famous Loy Krathong festival and go on a few outings – hope you enjoy reading about it!
It has been really cool learning about different holidays and festivities while in Thailand. Right after we got back to Chiang Mai from the village, we got to experience Loy Krathong – a celebration that falls on the full moon in November. Loy Krathong is a festival with Buddhist origins that, while celebrated in all of Thailand, is particularly important in the North because that’s where it originated from. The festival is to apologize and show appreciation to the river spirits. On Monday in Thai class, we learned about the Loy Krathong Festival and then got to make Loy Krathongs – small, little banana leaf boats decorated with flowers that people release into the river. It was a lot of fun learning the Loy Krathong song and making the Loy Krathongs in class. That evening, we went to an area on the Ping River to experience the festival. It was amazing! While the crowds were a bit overwhelming, it was really beautiful. The river was filled with the Loy Krathong boats and the sky was lit up with lanterns. It was very festive and cheerful. The Loy Krathong festivities last several days, so the next evening, we went to a parade at old city. I also loved the parade. It was very crowded, but the “floats” (not sure what else to call them but floats doesn’t seem like the right word) were like nothing I’d ever seen before. They were very detailed, smaller versions of images of temples, mountains, spirits, etc… The parade also had dancers and other musicians. I was very surprised/impressed that there were no advertisements at each “float” to show who supported the parade. It felt like the people were there without alternative motives of profit and fame. After the parade, people filled into the street to continue celebrating and set off more lanterns into the sky. Like the day before, it was very beautiful (while also created a lot of fire hazards) – my friends and I decided to light one off together. Doing so was a symbol of letting negative thoughts and experiences go. I loved Loy Krathong!
The rest of my time the past few weeks has been pretty normal. Thai class is still fun and very rewarding, though we do have a presentation and interview test coming up in the near future. All my classes have bigger assignments coming up as we are getting closer to the end of classes, but I’ve still had time to do things apart from school work. I’ve gone to the gym and the mall a few times. It’s been nice going to the mall just as a scenery change to do hw – I also got a haircut one day! Last Sunday, we went on a hike with our professor of Environmental Sustainability in Southeast Asia class. It was really nice – he just offered to take us on a hike in his spare time without anyone even prompting him to. We hiked on Doi Suthep, the national park on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. The hike was very challenging but very rewarding- we hiked for about 12 miles that day through the beautiful forest! It was a nice way to start the week.
The highlight for me this week, if it wasn’t clear from my writing above, was definitely the Loy Krathong Festival. I had a lot of fun making a Loy Krathong and participating in the festivities, and I also was thankful to learn about it’s significance. While I learned about it in Thai class, Loy Krathong aslo came up that week in my classes about culture and the environment. For example, we talked about the environmental affects of Loy Krathong (all those lantrens end up somewhere) and then compared it to other issues like the environmental impacts of the 4th of July in the US. It can be easy to judge other cultures without examining your own and trying to understand the different perspectives. I’ve loved studying abroad in Thailand, but sometimes I forget that I’m actually studying abroad in Thailand because things can feel so normal – Loy Krathong made me think “omg I’m actually studying in Thailand right now” which I needed.
Here are a few more pictures from my time at Loy Krathong – to see all my pictures check out my pictures page here!
Thank you for reading!