Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sawadee Pee Mai!

The next stop on our trip was Chiang Mai, which is in the north of Thailand. It's one of my favorite cities in Thailand... it's got everything you need like a big city, but without the chaotic atmosphere. I thought it would be a great place to ring in the new year, and actually proved to be even more perfect than I could have hoped! We did do some sightseeing while we were up there, but those pictures will come in a later post. For now, here's a look at what may have been my favorite New Year's celebration yet!

Back in November I posted about the Thai holiday, Loy Krathong. Thais release floating krathongs down the river and they send all bad things with them. In Chiang Mai, they are known for releasing a different kind of krathong into the air, rather than the tradition ones in the water. Their's work like hot air balloons and float away until they disappear into the night sky. They also release them on New Year's Eve in order to cleanse themselves of all negative energy and get a clean start to the New Year. Seeing thousands of these krathongs lighting up the night sky was definitely one of the highlights of the trip!

We released ours at a temple, where the monks were helping all of us first timers.

Really, what could be better? If you ask me, this definitely beats out the celebration in New York City!

It amazed me that there weren't any mishaps with so much fire just floating around! Krathongs were floating mere inches over people's heads and getting stuck in trees left and right but somehow, I didn't see a single thing catch on fire. Unless you count a few of the krathongs themselves...

The view down the river, where the krathongs were being released and the fireworks were set off. It felt like it was straight out of a movie! Or at least straight out of Europe.

As if the regular ones aren't awesome enough, they even make panda krathongs! And as if THAT'S not enough, they also had hearts, soccer balls, Thai flags, and ones adorned with images celebrating the Year of the Rabbit.

My parents watching the fireworks...

Like I said, it felt like something straight out of a movie.

People looking on as the fireworks signaled the start of the New Year. It was such a different atmosphere than you find at celebrations in America. No obnoxious drunk people, no wild parties... just a happy and peaceful environment with families and cute Asian couples enjoying themselves.

Each of those little dots is a Krathong, and this doesn't even do justice to how many of them there were. I wish I could say that's a shooting start going through them all, but I guess letting you know it's a firework is awesome enough!

I'll say it again, I'll take this celebration over New Year's Eve in America anyday!

Coming Soon: A Day at Khao Yai, a National Park right here in Saraburi!


  1. Totally awesome and thanks for the pics! I was in Chiang Mai too at New Years but 3 hours before midnight i got totally sick. Must have been some bad chicken or something like that down at the street kitchen. So i was a little unrelaxed at midnight and could not take many photos. Glad to came across your blog :-)

    But one questions came up when reading your post. Those little dots in the sky...aren't they called 'kom fai'. I though Krathongs are those little 'ships' you put into the water. Or is it same same? ;-)

    Thanks and take care :)

  2. Hi Sascha! Glad to hear you enjoyed my blog... thanks for stopping by =) Where are you from and what brings you to Thailand?

    Sorry to hear you were sick on New Year's! I've always been told that both the things that go in the water and the ones that go in the air are called krathongs... maybe that's just an easy way to refer to both things and the real, official name for the ones in the air is "kom fai"? Calling the floating ones krathongs too may just make it easier for Thais to explain to a farang like me. Thanks for the info!

  3. Hi Brie! Thanks for the quick response and the hello on twitter :-)

    I came here in October and will stay at least until August. Took a break from my normal job back home in Germany and work now as an English teacher here at the Udon Thani College. Quite nice so far even though the city itself can not compete with Chiang Mai. But the people are amazing - except the old Farangs checking out the young Thai girls ;-)

    And it's always hard to get a right explanation from Thai people. In the end everything is always 'same same' ;-)