Celebrating Loi Krathong Festival in Bangkok

We are currently flatting down the road from the Rama 8 Bridge in Bangkok and for the last few days have seen preparation for some sort of large festival. Being typical foriegners, we didn’t really have a clue what was going on until one of the local taxi drivers gave us a heads up that the annual Loi Krathong Festival was happening tonight (28 November). Walking down our road the Sois were packed with scooters, bicycles and cars, and turning around the corner we saw literally thousands of people.  Normally you would see no more than 30 people at any given time hanging around the bridge.  Clearly its an important time in the Bangkok calendar. The night revolves around floating offerings usually made of banana leaves, or bread with incense  candles and the like on top, which you light and put into the water. My (limited, and based on wikipedia) understanding is that it is to pay homage to the water spirits (a lot of thais are very superstitious, with regards to ghosts, spirits etc) Along the riverside were lots of kids (and adults) who were prepared to jump into the river (while boats were docking) to launch your offerings for a few baht.  I don’t know how they do it – the river is filthy and full of rubbish, but each to their own.  We emptied our pockets and gave them whatever coins we had – I’m pretty sure our guy didn’t know how to swim either. Afterwards there is a flotilla of what I think were navy barges that were all decorated and themed for the occasion, each with massive fireworks displays (you can see this one going under the Rama 8 bridge – our local).  I finally worked out where the elephant noises that I’d heard for the last few days were coming from, when a massive elephant themed barge with loudspeakers went past.  The festival is also full of stalls, food, clothing, and sideshows – as you can see, Matt trying his luck at darts, and failing miserably. My inner redneck spots something involving guns, and obviously I’m all in.  The goal of this one is to shoot a spring powered air gun, firing a plastic cap at the toys and knock them off.  There were loads of massive toys as well, but due to the language barriers we had absolutely no idea of how to win them. We managed to liberated quite a few toys, tried to give them out to the local children (what else am I going to do with them), but ended up getting too many funny looks from concerned parents who probably thought we were planning on kidnapping their babies and selling them into slavery… or something. End result, a shrine of bizarre looking soft toys, I’m all ears with regards to suggestions of what to do with them. All in all a cool night out, though unfortunately later that night I woke up with a fever, and 4 days worth of being bed ridden and dealing with food poisoning.  It had to happen eventually..   and a welcome reminder that food that costs $1.50 on the side of the road with zero hygiene occasionally gives you more than you bargained for..

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