Open to: On Nut Market on a rainy evening. A table full of friends, most of them new to me. This is where the seed was planted regarding a train trip to Chiang Mai for the Thai holiday of Loy Krathong. I almost didn’t go out that night – but I am sure glad I did.
Weeks passed, but finally – trip time. I ended up taking the train on my own. Half the group was going too early for me, the other half too late. Despite being alone, I was still as giddy as one of my kindergarten kids when they flipped our seats into bunk beds. I remember looking at my seat mate, an older gentleman from Germany, and practically yelling “this is awesome!” to him as our seats were transformed. I cuddled up in my little 16-hour home and read and napped and snacked on chocolate. Essentially – my ideal day.
I awoke in the early morning to mist-covered green mountains and a gloomy drizzle, but rain couldn’t dampen my spirits. I gushed about how beautiful it was to the Thai woman who served me my cup of crappy coffee, but she barely blinked.
Jovo and Ja met me at the train station. We got my motorbike and drove to Mae Rim where our friend Golf had opened an amazing artists’ residence. It was still raining as we settled in, but Ja and I decided we would take our motorbikes out and explore the area a bit. Rainboots were essential here. The road leading to Golf’s was very hilly and mostly dirt – so with the never-ending rain, it was thick, slippery mud that our city bikes had to be slowly nudged over. We discovered a beautiful, isolated temple before meeting up with the rest of our gang to begin our celebration.
Do a simple Google Image search of Chiang Mai, and you can be sure the first page will be littered with photographs of paper lanterns. Those floating lights, or Khom Loy, are synonymous with Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai in particular. It is believed that with the release of your lantern, you are also releasing your bad luck and misfortunes. The atmosphere of the celebration was unlike anything I have witnessed. It felt almost like Christmas and the Fourth of July and Halloween all bundled into one. Lights and fireworks and parades and music – everywhere! Night one ended in a crowded booth at a riverside bar with a cheerful group of rain soaked Thais and Westerners. Next up – more friends arrive, we get stuck in a downpour, and more amazing Chiang Mai scenery.