21
Aug 13

Thailand 2012: Flying to Chiang Mai; views from Doi Suthep

Date: 22nd November 2012

We had our hotel book us a van taxi to take us to Phuket airport. Our Air Asia flight was at 10:35am, and even though the van taxi had to pick up other passengers, we all got to the airport on time. We didn’t have breakfast, so the Dunkin Donuts at the departures area was where we stopped first after checking-in and collecting our boarding passes.

Air Asia Phuket flight interiors

It’s been a while since I flew Air Asia

Flying over Chiang Mai Thailand

There weren’t any delays and the flight left on time

Phuket tributary Thailand from sky

Goodbye sun and sand

Archipelago Phuket islands from sky

Quite an archipelago

Clouds rivers out to sea PhuketRivers out to sea Phuket aerial view

Clouds over hills Thailand

One and half hours later, we were flying over Chiang Mai province

We landed on time, and ready and waiting for our arrival was the driver assigned to pick us up from Chiang Mai international airport. The driver was courtesy of Rux Thai, the hotel we were staying at. Rux Thai is where I first stayed at when I came to Chiang Mai in 2009, and again when I returned in 2010. Needless to say, I booked at Rux Thai a third time after I e-mailed them and got a good deal (฿500 per night) for a twin room on the ground floor for three nights. Continue reading “Thailand 2012: Flying to Chiang Mai; views from Doi Suthep” »


10
Dec 12

Loy Krathong 2012: Yeepeng Lanna in Chiang Mai – A second chance to do it right

Date 24th November 2012

For those who have been following my website since 2010 – or have landed on my website when searching for information on Loi Krathong in Thailand – you must have read about how disappointing my 2010 attempt to capture the Yeepeng Lanna festival was. Long story short, I got confirmation when and where the event was taking place but by the time I got to the venue, I missed the big release of lanterns by a matter of minutes!

I was gutted the remainder of the night and vowed I would go back to do it right the next time. I wanted to go to Thailand in 2011, but last year’s floods ruined my plans. This year, I could wait no more. I had plenty of good reasons to go to Thailand and I did.

Even though I had a friend for company, I made no compromises about getting to the venue early this time. As soon as we were done with lunch, we found a tuk-tuk driver willing to take us to Maejo University and back for 600 baht. In 2010 I paid 500 baht, so 600 baht for both of us sounded like a good deal. Plus our driver spoke fairly good English – something of a rarity in Thailand. We felt comfortable knowing everything was going smooth so far. (Yeah, wait till you read how it all ended!)

Tuk Tuk driver Chiang Mai

We set off

Chiang Mai highway to San Sai Maejo

The weather seemed great and the highway leading to Maejo University was easy on the traffic

Inside Maejo University Chiang Mai

Our driver told us it was the first time in over 20 years that he was entering Maejo University. For which there was no need to, because I knew from last year’s visit there was an alternate road to take.

After getting directions from the university staff, we reached the same point where I was dropped off last time. It all came back to me now — how I walked for at least a kilometre before reaching the actual grounds where the event was taking place.

Way to Yee Peng Lanna venue Maejo

People were setting up their stalls to sell paper lanterns, food and drinks

But this time, we drove down the same road and found parking right next to the main grounds! It was just past 2pm and we were really early. I was happy though. I knew I was safe inside and sure to witness the big release of lanterns this time!

Our tuk tuk driver said he would wait for us until evening and told us he was just going to go out for lunch. But we knew he was leaving the venue to go about his business of picking up other passengers. Who cares, as long as he came back for us. We hadn’t paid him yet.

Yeepeng Lanna Maejo afternoon

We weren’t the only ones who arrived early. Many other tourists – mostly Chinese and Japanese, some locals and volunteers were milling about. (The above photos were all taken on the phone)

Yeepeng Lanna ceremony Thai girls

There was some ceremony going on

Pretty Thai girl Chiang Mai

More of a photo-op for us

Thai girls traditional dresses Chiang Mai

Yeepeng Lanna opening ceremony Chiang Mai

The boys had a showing too

Thai boys Yeepeng Lanna ceremony Chiang Mai

Maejo grounds lamps for Yeepeng Lanna

Once that was over, we moved to the actual grounds nearby

Lamps covered Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai

These are the lamps that would be used to light the ‘khom loys’ or paper lanterns

Yeepeng Lanna lamps lines panorama

And the whole ground was full of them!

Lamp lines Maejo grounds panorama

My friend Ramesh and I found ourselves a small tree under which we could take respite from the sun

Buddha podium Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai venue

That’s the podium on which Buddhist monks would be chanting prayers before the actual release

Buddha statue Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai venue

Chiang Mai lamps for Yeepeng Lanna festival

I walked up to the center of the grounds

Yeepeng Lanna venue setup Chiang Mai

I guess the carpet is for the many ceremonies that lead up to the big lantern release

Maejo University grounds entrance

Chiang Mai happy tour Yeepeng Lanna

But walking around, I noticed most of the sections were blocked by tour groups. As if they reserved sections for whoever paid to be here.

Tree shade bags Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai

Our bags were cooling off in the shade

Hall Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai

I decided to drink as much water, juices and then go to the toilet beforehand

Maejo Yeepeng Lanna hall Chiang Mai

There was some ceremony going on inside which we weren’t allowed to photograph

Yeepeng Lanna volunteers greeting visitors

They had volunteers greeting visitors in both Thai and English

I drank a lot of ice cold water and went to the restroom because henceforth I wasn’t moving away from my spot.

Camera men Yeepeng Lanna

A lot of video cameras and DSLRs were setup well in advance to secure the best viewing point

Camera men Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai

A LOT of cameras!

Yeepeng Lanna venue Maejo Chiang Mai

This whole venue is going to be full of people lighting paper lanterns

Sirui tripod Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai

I set up my tripod and made test shots of all the possible viewing angles

Tourists Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai

Everyone took respite from the sun under the shade of the trees

Maejo grounds crowd panorama

Slowly but surely the crowds were making their way in

Tourists Khom Loy lanterns Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai

People carried their khom loys which were sold at the venue for 100 baht each

LCMT tour Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai

Tour groups were trying to get their people together

Yeepeng Lanna big paper lanterns

I guess you get your lantern ready if you already paid to come here with a tour group

Power paraglider Chiang Mai Thailand

Look up in the sky! Is it a bird? A plane? Kind of… this paraglider was surveying the grounds from up above. Imagine the view of the lanterns he was going to get from up there!

Man on top of light tower Chiang Mai

This guy’s spot isn’t too bad either :)

Full moon Chiang Mai Thailand

It was a full moon night, a factor based on which they set dates for this festival

Paraglider Chiang Mai Loi Krathong

The paraglider was still doing the rounds while paper lanterns made their way up. What a perspective he must have got!

Yeepeng Lanna crowds gathering

As the sun was setting, the crowds were growing

Yeepeng Lanna venue night Chiang Mai

The venue was full and by 6:30pm people were getting the urge to start lighting lanterns, despite constant announcements asking everyone to refrain from doing so

Yeepeng Lanna buddhist ceremony

By 7pm, we were well into the many ceremonies that precede the release of the lanterns

Buddhist monks stage Loi Krathong Thailand

The monks chanted prayers which were followed by traditional songs and performances

Thais meditating Chiang Mai

Thais around me were deep in meditation and chanting along

Buddhist monks Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai

But I couldn’t get a good sight of all that from where we were standing as it all happened in the center of the grounds – sections all reserved for guests and VIPs

Man hair strands silhouette

It was hard trying to get clear shots because there would always be some head obstructing my view. But I made the most of it. Love the 70-200mm lens! :)

Maejo night lanterns Yeepeng Lanna

This is a long exposure panorama comprised of 4 shots tried with as little shake as possible

Smoke Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai

They lit some firecracker… or something

Lamp fire Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai

After all the ceremonial activities were over, the announcement was made to light the lamps

Thai praying Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai

Lamp fire Chinese tourists Yeepeng Lanna

But everyone was instructed not to light the lanterns yet

Sadly the instructions were only in Thai and English, meaning some Chinese and Japanese around me couldn’t wait to light up.

Yeepeng Lanna Loy Krathong Chiang Mai

And so it began

Lamp fire close-up Chiang Mai Thailand

Myself and Ramesh decided we would light lanterns after the big release. Until then our focus was capturing photos and videos.

Thai light lantern Loi Krathong Chiang Mai

It’s not easy to light up such a huge paper lantern and try to take photos at the same time

Releasing lantern Loi Krathong Chiang Mai

And despite repeated announcements not to release the lanterns yet… there’s only so long one can hold on to it once it fills up with hot air

Thai family lantern Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai

This Thai man giving us the thumbs up was overly joyous and talkative to us asking us where we’re from and what we were doing in Thailand. Nice chap :)

Releasing paper lanterns Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai

Lanterns were going up even before the main announcement

Paper lanterns Loy Krathong Chiang Mai

People near to us were still getting their lanterns ready

Khom Loy Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai

These khom loys are massive!

People releasing paper lanterns

I was getting a bit worried the lack of co-ordination was going to ruin the big lantern release

Lanterns night sky Chiang Mai

I mean, the whole beauty of Yeepeng Lanna is seeing thousands of lanterns go up at the same time

Lighting lanterns Chiang Mai Thailand

He was happy to let go, but I prayed the others would wait

Paper lanterns floating Chiang Mai Thailand

But then…

Khom Loy Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai Thailand

OH. MY…

Lanterns Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai Thailand

… !!!!! :D

All around were just screams of joy and exhales of utter amazement! Even Ramesh and I were going: “Oh man, oh man… oh oh-ho-ho!” Really… there are no words to describe how you feel at that very moment you see it. It’s a visual-sensory overload! Even though I was shooting at my widest, no camera can capture the sheer scale of the what the night sky looks at that moment. Your eyes are the only best tool.

I immediately then tried to try an capture a panorama comprised of multiple shots. I never once thought how the end result would look… I just clicked-clicked-clicked-clicked.

Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai big lantern release

And this is the best I could put together

I had to piece together the above 4 shots (out of 6) manually as no photo-stitching software (including Photoshop’s otherwise impressive Photomerge) could find common links between each photo. Here’s a larger version.

Lanterns floating away Loi Krathong

The lanterns were floating right over me. Guess that’s the way the wind was blowing.

Lanterns floating night sky Chiang Mai

I took this vertically to get as many lanterns as possible

Lanterns night sky Chiang Mai Thailand

It was amazing to see just how quick these lanterns float away out of sight

Paper lanterns rising up Thailand

People were still lighting up lanterns

Lanterns floating away Chiang Mai

And just like that… into the distance

Yeepeng Lanna festival Chiang Mai

Another panorama I had to manually piece together

Yeepeng Lanna crowd lanterns Chiang Mai

Another manual panorama stitch comprised of 4 shots

Yeepeng Lanna trees lanterns Chiang Mai

Wonder where these lanterns eventually drop to

Lantern festival Chiang Mai Thailand

Another panorama manually pieced together from 5 shots

Yeepeng Lanna crowd lanterns Chiang Mai

And another one pieced together from 4 shots. Not perfect, I know.

Lantern festival Thailand

I knew back in 2010 itself just how tough this festival is to capture on camera. One, it’s dark, and two, you’re trying to capture moving objects in low light.

Paper lantern festival Chiang Mai Thailand

I shot in Manual Focus mode because keeping it in Auto Focus meant the focusing would be slow (my wide angle is the Canon 10-22mm f3.5). Although I had the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8, from experience I know how lousy its focusing is compared to the Canon. Keep in mind, most of these photos were taken at shutter speeds ranging from 1/6 to 1/20.

Lantern festival with flash

And shooting in Auto mode with flash like how many with point-and-shoot cameras were clicking meant you get photos like this. It kills the very glow of these floating lanterns.

Lantern festival crowd Chiang Mai

But just when you think the visual sensory overload is over…

Maejo lantern festival Chiang Mai

… fireworks!

Yeepeng Lanna fireworks Chiang Mai Thailand

Yeepeng Lanna festival fireworks

I actually took a lot of photos of the fireworks

Fireworks Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai lantern festival

Sadly, most of them came out blurry. I guess that’s the downside to keeping your lens on Manual Focus and getting lost in the revelry :-/ They looked fine on the LCD but it’s only when you zoom in or view them on the computer you realize: “Crap!”

With the activities slowing down at the grounds and people making their way out, Ramesh and I went up to the big hall to get an overhead view.

Maejo grounds lamps Yeepeng Lanna

We wondered what the spectacle from up here would have looked like

Fire lamps Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai

A team next to me were still filming video. I set up my tripod to take some longer shutter release.

Mithun Divakaran Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai

We took each others’ photos using the fire lamps as backgrounds

Yeepeng Lanna ground after lantern release

And that was it. We were done.

Well, done taking photos of other people having fun! Now it was our turn. We went to buy one of the big lanterns but sadly they were all sold out. We went out to the main road by the river stream to check with the vendors there.

Crowd leaving Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai

The stream of thousands leaving the venue meant it was going to be near impossible to walk through it all. But it did remind me of 2010 when I was one sad face walking like a zombie (in disappointment, than lacking life) after having missed the big release of lanterns.

This year though, I had a smile of my face. I captured the amazing moment the lanterns went up and now I just felt like lighting up some lanterns myself. We looked around until I finally found a big one lying unused and wasn’t torn. Ramesh found a vendor inside and bought another.

We decided to light up the bigger one first.

Ramesh Japanese girls Loi Krathong

These Japanese girls helped us light the big one as you need more than two hands to hold the lantern up — and take photos!

Ramesh Mithun Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai

Two or three minutes later, it was ready to float away

Mithun releasing lantern Chiang Mai

Made a wish, and then let go

Mithun Divakaran lantern Thai girl

We lit another one with this Thai girl, who was awfully kind to help us

But I later realized she was only helping us so we would finish up and leave. She was one among the many volunteers who immediately began cleaning up the venue.

Letting go of lantern Chiang Mai

So we let go of our final khom loy

Fire lamps Yeepeng Lanna Chiang Mai

And with that, we were finally done for the night

Walking back, looking at all the volunteers cleaning up the grounds, putting out the lamps and clearing all the trash, I now understood why the organizers have started commercializing this festival. For over 20 years, this privately organized event grew into one of the most symbolic of Thai festivals in the eyes of many tourists. Heck, I’m sure this event is what inspired this scene in ‘Tangled‘!

Last year when they announced a separate event would be a paid event, that too with a US$100 entry fee (slashed to $80 this time), I scoffed at how greedy they had become. Of course, now they hold two – one free event and one ticketed event. But even this event had large sections of the ground cordoned off by tour groups, reserving the good spots for those who surely paid to attend this festival.

Still, I won’t blame them now. Just because it’s free for many of us, doesn’t mean there aren’t expenses. Somebody has to pay for the free ice-cold water, somebody’s got to pay for all the free plastic chairs they handed out to those who waited since afternoon. Not to mention, again, the hard-working volunteers cleaning up the entire venue and helping out with the various activities.

Will I attend this lantern festival again? Although I managed to get in early this time, I’m still not absolutely thrilled with the photos I took. I shot altogether over 440 photos today, but I only used a quarter of that for this post. Many came out blurred. I don’t entirely blame myself, because I did the best I could with my Canon 7D and 10-22mm f3.5 lens. Being surprised by the moments of amazement that took place before my very own eyes, it was hard to plan every shot. Trying to capture what your eyes see with a camera is always tricky. I would like to think had I got a full frame camera with the Canon 16-35mm f2.8 lens, I would have taken better photos. Then again… ‘shoulda, coulda, woulda’. We all have such thoughts after something has happened.

As we walked back to our waiting tuk-tuk driver, it was 8:45pm. But we were happy. Not for long though.

When we approached our driver, he had the look of displeasure on his face. He complained saying he’s been here for hours and we promised we would be out by 6pm (which we never did). I knew why he was acting this way and it soon came out. He demanded we pay 1000 baht instead of 600 baht. I refused, saying that was too much for a tuk-tuk ride. He said he would take us to the police station if we didn’t pay up. So I said “sure, go ahead” and got in.

I wasn’t afraid as this wasn’t the first time a local tried to pull this trick on me in Thailand.

Chinese tuk-tuk driver

I took his photo while we were stuck in the slow moving traffic outside the grounds

But then, strong winds started blowing. Blowing so hard it was toppling sign boards, chairs and other things off shops on the road side. Then came the loud sound of thunder. Then it began to rain. And how! It was pouring cats, dogs and any other animal you can throw at to describe a torrential downpour! Myself and Ramesh, although with a roof over out heads, were still getting wet with the heavy wind throwing water at us from all open sides. I tried to take my rain coat out of my camera bag but hesitated to move from the covering position I was in. Even opening up the rain coat was a challenge with the wet winds rendering it counter-productive even before I could use it as cover. My camera was getting wet too, so I needed to stuff that back in before it could take in any more water.

And just when you think bad weather in the midst of heavy traffic couldn’t make things any worse, our tuk tuk sputtered to a stop. Water got inside the spark plug making it hard for the driver to restart the vehicle. So yeah, we were stuck in the rain. Then the power went off all around us. Yup.

Ten minutes later, the vehicle restarted and we were off again. But given the driver had chosen to take the inner roads to hopefully skip traffic (or take us to the nearest police station), driving through puddled roads… the tuk tuk stopped again. For the same reason. We now had to wait longer. In the rain, in the dark, and with no clue where in Chiang Mai we were!

But the driver’s attitude changed by now. Although he complained of how cold he was (he was getting drenched too), the talk moved to light banter complaining about Thailand’s electricity cuts, calling it the worst in the world. We assured him there’s always India to make Thailand’s infrastructure look far superior. But as light as both our attitudes were by then, Ramesh and I couldn’t believe how our night was turning out to be. I couldn’t believe my drive back from the lantern festival could possibly make me sick again. We were shivering in the cold and prayed the tuk tuk would start again. It did, some 20 minutes later, and fortunately by then the rain had reduced to a drizzle. We asked the driver to avoid potholes and see if he could connect back to the main highway.

Funnily enough, all I kept thinking was how the rain could have possibly been caused by the development of hot air caused by the thousands of lanterns in the air from the Yeepeng Lanna grounds. It was as though god was pissed with all the fire we were sending up his way and he decided to wash us out with a massive downpour of water! But the driver told us he had heard in the weather report that there was a depression from Vietnam heading towards Thailand. Still, I think the hot air could have aggravated the rains.

Chiang Mai rain bikers

It was well past 10pm by the time we saw a highway. Ramesh could take his phone out to take this snap as I wanted some evidence of just how much it rained. Trust me, it was much worse when it began!

By the time we reached Chiang Mai city, it was 10:45pm. It took us two hours to get back, but what horrible two hours it was. We asked our driver to drop us near the Night Market as we just wanted to have some hot food before everything shut shop early because of the rains.

When it came time to pay him, we still gave him 700 baht feeling sorry for an old man shivering out at this time of the night when his wife kept calling asking him where he was.

It’s not that I have it usually, but we felt like having some rum or whiskey to warm our bodies. This was a moment when I craved hot Indian food too, and although available aplenty at the Night Market, most places were muslim-run restaurants. Which meant we would get the food, but not the alcohol.

We just sat inside a popular restaurant and ordered everything. I desperately wanted to be done with dinner so I could run home to take a hot shower.

Myanmar pork curry

I wanted something hot and spicy to warm my body up but there was no Indian food on the menu. Instead, I tried Myanmar pork curry, which although tasted okay, ended up being gingery sweet. Not what I craved that night.

Done with dinner, shivering and soaking wet from head to toe, we walked back to our room and I quickly took a hot shower. It felt soooooo good.

Rux Thai twin room Chiang Mai Thailand

I tested my camera to see if everything worked fine. I know the 7D body is weather sealed, so it can handle the elements to a certain extent. But I was glad to know the lens and the motor all worked a-okay. (This is was our twin room at Rux thai Guesthouse by the way)

So that was my day. From hot and sunny in the morning, thrilling in the evening, to cold and rainy in the evening. I wasn’t even in the mood to look at the photos I took because it was well past midnight and we had a morning flight back to Bangkok where I had to attend SM Town III the next day. I had to sleep.

But I was still happy :-)

P.S: Here’s a video Ramesh took when the lanterns were released into the air:

My 2010 Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai posts:

Thailand 2010: Chiang Mai cooking class; Loi Krathong celebrations in Mae Jo, Sansai

Thailand 2010: Chiang Mai Loi Krathong celebrations; first Grand Parade

Thailand 2010: Last day of Loi Krathong; Sunday Grand Parade (Day 4, Part 2)


19
Jun 11

Thailand 2010: Last day of Loi Krathong; Sunday Grand Parade (Day 4, Part 2)

Date:  22nd November 2010

Today began with a visit to Chiang Mai Zoo, to pay a visit to see the city’s most famous residents. After a brief rest, I stepped out again to witness what the final night of the Yi Peng Festival had in store.

Loi Krathong start participants gather

The parade was about to start

Loy Krathong ornate float

Ornately decorated floats!

Loy Krathong tourists light man

This guy was attracting attention today as well

Loi Krathong Grand Parade start

Fascinating art

Yi Peng sunday parade silver float

Man, the work done on some of these floats!

Loy Krathong grand parade silver float

“Don’t call me now, I’m in a different era! You’re ruining it!”

Loi Krathong grand parade Thais dressed

Thai ‘princess’ and ‘prince’

Loi krathong red tshirt group float

Chiang Mai red t-shirt group parade

Not sure who this red t-shirt ‘army’ were representing

Loy Krathong parade pickup truck floatsLoy Krathong grand parade elephant floatYi Peng grand parade pink elephant floatLoy Krathong pagoda grand parade Chiang MaiLoy Krathong Thai king floatLoy Krathong pretty Thai girl grand paradeElaborate float Yi Peng festivalGolden float Loy krathong grand paradeLoy Krathong start of grand paradeChiang Mai Loy Krathong performers lights

Lord Ganesha Thai women nails float Yi Peng

I wonder Thais worship Lord Ganesha too

Beautiful float grand parade Loy Krathong

Chiang Mai Loy Krathong performers

Hundreds of locals participate in the Grand Parade

Yi Peng float parade girlChiang Mai Yi Peng parade participants

Chiang Mai US consulate family float Loi Krathong parade

The lady sitting on the car is the Consul General of the US Consulate of Chiang Mai, along with her family

Chiang Mai Yi Peng grand parade American

Loy Krathong grand parade Japan particpants

Up ahead, I saw many Thais cosplaying. Hmm, I wonder which contingent this is? :)

Chiang Mai Loy Krathong celebrations Japan group parade

Why no surprise there! :)

Loy Krathong grand parade Japan float

Japan’s float

Loy Krathong grand parade Japan cosplay Chiang Mai

Lots of tributes to anime and videogame characters

Loy Krathong grand parade Japan cosplay Thailand

Loy Krathong grand parade Japan cosplay Gundam Chiang Mai

Even dressing up as a Gundam robot!

Lavish float Yi Peng grand parade Chiang Mai

Absolutely beautiful work

Loi Krathong grand parade cavalade

The cavalcade made their may down Thapae Road

Loi Krathong parade coverage cameramen

Cameramen readied themselves

Loi Krathong grand parade traditional drumsChiang Mai Loi Krathong parade traditional drumChiang Mai Loy Krathong grand parade woman carnival

Chiang Mai Yi Peng parade cow puppet

Not sure if the creature was meant to be a cow or a goat

Chiang Mai Yi Peng parade animal buddhist monks elders

But it did stop occasionally to be ‘fed’ money

Chiang Mai Yi Peng parade Thapae road
Chiang Mai Loy Krathong parade Thai traditional drum

Thai character Chiang Mai Yi Peng parade

I don’t who this character/mascot was

Chiang Mai Yi Peng parade march Thai mascotChiang Mai Yi Peng parade Thapae road marchYi Peng grand parade women floatLoy Krathong grand parade beautiful Thai womenChiang Mai Yi Peng parade men back tattoo

Thai man back tattoo art Chiang Mai

Awesome tattoo art

Chiang Mai Yi Peng festival Thai men traditionalChiang Mai Loy Krathong Yi Peng festival grand paradePretty Thai model traditional jewelry Yi Peng paradeChiang Mai marching band Yi Peng paradeChiang Mai Yi Peng parade women banner

After following the parade from up front, I got distracted.

Yes, it was food… but…

Fried bugs sale Chiang Mai vendor

Fried insects for sale!

Chiang Mai fried insects vendor Thailand

Was tempted to be all adventurous…

Fried insects cricket bamboo worm silkworm Chiang Mai

…but I hate insects when alive, leave alone when they are fried dead

Fortunately there were more appetizing food on sale.

Meatball stick street vendor Chiang MaiFried rice noodles pad thai vendor Chiang Mai Thailand

Fried seafood street vendor Chiang Mai Thailand

All this stuff was cheap

Barbecue boiled meat balls Chiang Mai

My friend Loi’s survival food

Chiang Mai barbecued meat street vendor

Lots, and lots of meat!

Okay, enough food. Back to the parade.

Chiang Mai Thepbodint school marching band Loy Krathong paradeChiang Mai Loy Krathong grand parade light truckChiang Mai market overbridgePing river Chiang Mai overbridge lights

Chiang Mai street Loy Krathong Thais

This being the last day of the festival, everybody was out

Ping river Loi Krathong devotees

Locals thronged the banks of Ping river

Chiang Mai US consulate wall paintings

Walls of the Consulate General of the United States in Chiang Mai

Loy Krathong grand parade vip stand judging

The various floats pass by these stands where judges select the best in show

Ping river candle lit krathongs floating

Meanwhile on the river banks…

Thai local releasing Krathong in water Chiang MaiKrathongs in ping river Chiang MaiChiang Mai karthongs ping riverPing river krathongs Chiang Mai Yi Peng festivalPing river steps Loy Krathong Thai family

Chiang Mai Loy Krathong parade audience stand cameraman

The eager crowd await the parade’s arrival through the final stage

Chiang Mai Loy Krathong grand parade police cars

Leading the parade

Yi Peng festival VIP arriving Chiang Mai

Some formalities

Loy Krathong festival fireworks last day Chiang Mai

…and then fireworks!

Yi Peng festival fireworks last day Chiang MaiPing river Loy Krathong other sideChiang Mai ping river lit krathongsChiang Mai Yi Peng festival ping river krathongs

Chiang Mai krathongs ping river Thailand

River gods ‘flooded’ with krathongs

Loy Krathong ping river decorated bridgeLoy Krathong ping river bridge lights

US consulate family car float Yi Peng festival parade

The American Consul family still doing the rounds

Ping river street lights Chiang Mai Yi peng festivalYi Peng festival parade crowds Chiang MaiThais releasing paper lanterns Ping riverPing river Loy Krathong float

Dining ping river Chiang Mai Yee Peng festival

You also have fancier dining options by Ping river

Chiang Mai schoolgirls celebrating Loy KrathongPing river at night Chiang Mai firework

Loy Krathong ping river boat ride Chiang Mai

Dinner boat rides are also quite popular

Ping river bridge bulbs shooting firework

Loy Krathong grand parade march

The parade making their way towards the municipality building

Yi Peng festival Chiang Mai grand parade people

Banana stem used in krathongs

The banana trunk slices are what forms the base of the krathongs

Chiang Mai Yi Peng festival Chinese temple parade

Watching so many people release khomloys into the sky (and the fact this was the last day of the festival), I told myself I better release a paper lantern myself now. I still hadn’t done it yet! The past three days, I was busy clicking away and it made me feel like I was on assignment, on work (which in some ways, it is).

Chiang Mai lanterns Ping river Thailand

So I bought a krathong and a khom loy from nearby

Loi Krathong lanterns in sky Chiang MaiI asked a local if I could borrow a light and instead she kindly shows me how to light the khomloy. She even helped hold it with me as the lantern filled up with hot air.

Khomloy paper lantern Chiang Mai Yi Peng festival

And there mine goes!

Thai lady krathongs in ping river

I then released my krathong after making my wish(es). That’s the Thai lady who helped me.

Krathongs floating ping river closeupKrathongs in water ThailandPing river fountain firework Yi Peng festival

Loy Krathong festival khomloy night sky

As I walked back up to the main road, I kept telling myself with the disappointment of missing the events at Sansai that I had to come back again and do it right. More importantly, after the ‘assignment’ at Mae Jo, I will not spend all my time taking photos. Instead, I’m going to have fun releasing paper lanterns and playing with fireworks — and I won’t be alone ;)

I went back to the main road for a few more photos.

Traditional Thai couple Yi Peng festival paradeLoykrathong performers parade gongThai man Loy Krathong parade holding lampsLoy Krathong Grand parade Thai traditional palanquinAmazing float Loy Krathong grand parade Chiang MaiThai baby girl Chiang Mai watching parade

Thai transgender aids awareness Chiang Mai

Transgenders spreading the message of safe sex

Thai girls posing condom AIDS awareness Chiang Mai

Condom-man distributing free condoms… and posing for photos with girls

Young Thai girl glowing head band Chiang Mai

These kind of headbands are all the craze for young girls out here

Nawarat bridge crowds Yi Peng festival

Nawarat bridge was packed with people

Ping river at night Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Thai king tribute gate

I headed back up Thapae road

Chiang Mai Loy krathong parade men

I pity the guys who had to carry the dancer in this heat for hours!

Chiang Mai Loi Krathong grand parade Thapae roadThai boys grand parade Chiang Mai Loi krathongThai girls traditional umbrella Yi Peng festival

Chiang Mai Loy krathong grand parade royal float

Really impressive, the work they put into these floats!

Chiang Mai grand parade silver elephant floatTraditional thai instruments Chiang Mai Loy KrathongChiang Mai Loi Krathong float Thapae roadTraditional Thai makeup Loy Krathong grand paradeChiang Mai Loy Krathong festival grand paradeChiang Mai Loi Krathong festival grand parade peopleChiang Mai Yi Peng festival traditional flags

Chiang Mai grand parade traditional palanquin

Don’t you know driving while talking on your mobile is wrong?

Chiang Mai Loy Krathong grand parade traditional palanquin broke

It broke! Poor girl must be so self-conscious now (even through it probably wasn’t due to her weight)

Thai Buddhist monk phone head wallThai Wat wall buddhist monk headsThai province girl grand parade Chiang MaiPretty Thai traditional girl grand parade Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai old Thai lady Loy Krathong grand parade

Hey, I couldn’t be biased

Thai king rama Chiang Mai Yi Peng grand parade

I’m really curious about the Indian connection in Thai history

Chiang Mai Loi Krathong grand parade elaborate float Thailand

These floats are all winners in my opinion

Chiang Mai grand parade Thai mythical animal puppet

This puppet was still doing the rounds

Cow puppet man drinking parade Chiang Mai

But even the men under the animal needed a break for water

Chiang Mai Thapae road Loy Krathong parade end

And that was the end of the parade…

Chiang Mai Thapae road junction street vendor

I walked back to Thapae gate to pick up some dinner

Chiang Mai fried rice shrimp cashews street food Thailand

Picked up some cashews, some fried rice and a shawarma

Leo beer can Chiang Mai Thailand

I even tried LEO beer for the first time. Essentially Singha’s offering to compete with Chang. My verdict? Chang is still better.

The fact that I had to split my last day in Chiang Mai into two posts is proof that this was a long day for me. I was quite tired, still feeling a bit feverish, but through it all — I was more than content with the photographs!

Tomorrow morning, I would head further up north to Chiang Rai and embark on the remainder of my journey across Thailand.

As a parting bonus, here’s a video of the some of the sights from today’s Grand Parade:

Next posts in this series:

Thailand 2010: Heading to Chiang Rai by bus, Wat Jedyod and Golden Clock Tower

Thailand 2010: Golden Triangle in Mae Sai; Chiang Rai’s White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)

Thailand 2010: Pattaya — Beach road, Viewpoint, Jomtien Beach, Walking Street

Thailand 2010: Back to Bangkok — Chinatown, Patpong, Platinum Mall and Chatuchak Market

Thailand 2010: Gurdwara Siri Guru Singh Sabha, Sampeng Market, JJ market (again)

Thailand 2010: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market tour, Cobra show… and leaving Bangkok

Previous posts in this series:

Thailand 2010: Chiang Mai Zoo (Day 4, Part 1)

Thailand 2010: Chiang Mai Loi Krathong celebrations; first Grand Parade

Thailand 2010: Chiang Mai cooking class; Loi Krathong celebrations in Mae Jo, Sansai

Thailand 2010: First day in Chiang Mai for Loi Krathong; driving up Doi Suthep

Thailand 2010: Arriving in Bangkok and preparing for Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai

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