You know that saying, “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list”? That’s how I feel most of the time. It seems like almost every day I read about a place or an event I’d like to visit. There are a few things that have remained steadfast on my travel wish list for years, though: a safari in Tanzania, scuba diving in the Maldives, a road trip though the southern states of America, a cultural trip through Bhutan, and, on the list for the past few years, seeing Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
And this past November, I was finally in Thailand at the right time to see the festival. Here, then, are my tips on the best way to celebrate Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai… complete with lots of photos!
I waded into the warm water, the shock of crushed corals and shells under my feet almost instantly turning into smooth, soft sand. In the distance I could spot the island of Koh Phi Phi, a dark green against the blue sky. A few other people were in the water, but not many, and on this little stretch of sand – aptly named Relax Bay – there really was nothing to do but laze around in the shade. And it was then, floating in the calm water, that I decided I’d finally found my favourite island: Koh Lanta.
The last time I saw you, I was looking down from a balcony, Juliet to your Romeo.
“Good night,” you called out.
“Good night!” I called back, even though I knew it was really goodbye. You walked away through the palm trees, headed to the beach on which we’d met.
That day had been my first day underwater as a scuba diver, and so, by the time the sun was getting low and heavy on the horizon, I was already buzzing with energy and laughter. Our dive group celebrated at the local bar, migrating to the sand as bonfires were lit, drinking cold beers and watching paper lanterns fill the sky. It was around one of those fires that I first saw you, the light flickering shades of red across your face.
“Valentin,” you offered, extending your hand. It took me aback. Today, after all was the 14th of February. “My name,” you confirmed, “is Valentin.”
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