After all the excitement in the classroom of celebrating Loy Krathong, my friends and I decided we also ought to celebrate the festival.
So we made our way down to the banks of the River Kok, where the festivities were taking place. I saw festivities like it was the lovely Buddhist festival we had been lead to believe would happen, however it was more of a neon market, selling beers and cuddly toys, or even a litter of puppies if you so wished.
However, realizing that this was a modern twist on a traditional activity, we continued, and not to miss out, we bought some beers to aid our celebrations, even though the weather was a little rainy.
We made our way through the swarms of people, closer to the river. On the way we kept seeing bags of fish, crabs, eels and other river dwelling creatures. These were being kept in tiny plastic bags, knotted up, with the minimal amount of water possible for the fish and such like to be contained within. The idea of this was for passersby to buy these, and then release them into the river once more. I’m unsure whether this is to “please the river spirits” or to bring good luck to the one that completes the deed. However, I just couldn’t stand to see these huge trout in tiny little bags. So I bought all the big fish that I could afford, said my apologies to the little sand crabs who I felt didn’t need my help quite so much, and together we released them back into freedom and the River Kok. Where no doubt, they will have just been caught further downstream to meet the same cruel fate all over again. But I don’t need to think about that.
So armed with my Krathong I had made earlier in class, we removed our shoes, and all waded barefoot into the river, screaming every couple of moments as we felt an eel or scaly fish squirm past our ankles.
We collectively posed for photos with each other, and all our Krathongs, before lighting our candles and incense, and setting these free to sail down the river. It was really lovely to see so many people coming to release their Krathongs, an offering to please the river spirits. In the distance, fireworks were set off (although scaring us a little, being set off in any random direction by teenage boys) however it was still a really lovely atmosphere.
Annoyingly though, the children that kept hanging around us, would chase the Krathongs after we’d released them, steeling the incense and candles, I presume to resell at a later date. However, where there’s potential money to be made, Thai kids will certainly give it a try.
After this, we lit a couple of paper lanterns, and released them up into the sky, which was really lovely.
Aside from the dangerous and scary fireworks, it was a great night, and really nice to see lots of people coming out to celebrate the old tradition, even if the new tradition involved lots of beers, and tacky fairground rides.
It was another great experience in a city with so many surprises.