20. Sunday, Loi Kratong ("Floating Crown Festival") in Mae Hong Son
Today is Loi Kratong, in all of Thailand a joyous, important and enchanting holiday. But it takes place at night, when the full moon is at the night sky, and until then there is still a full day to explore this little unspoiled jewel in the mountains of the North.
The morning I spend watching the girls at the resort where I stay make these wonderful Loi Kratongs out of banana leaf, a thick slice of the trunk of the banana tree as a structural base, different flowers, candles and incense sticks. It takes about 40 minutes to hand-make one of them; the designs can be very different, there are no limits to creativity. The banana leafs are elaborately folded to form little flowers, something you have so see to believe it. They will be send off downstream at night, accompanied by a wish, and by the hope they may please the water ghosts.
I also went up again to Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu on top of the mountain where I had purchased the nice little, solid brass temple bell which I mounted on the motorcycle a few days ago. As I mentioned earlier in the blog, the Wat is also a community center where activities for the people of the town, or village, take place. Today many women and girls gathered in one of the assembly halls to practice fruit-, and vegetable-carving, and flower design,.
|Beautiful water melon carvings|
Since today is my last day here, I went to the day market to look for some Burmese Thanaka cream; I wanted to buy this rare little beauty-helper as a souvenir, before I leave the area and probably couldn't find it anymore.
|The bark of the Thanaka tree can be purchased, with the help of the grey stone disks (right) you can prepare your own recipe.|
|The prepared cream, an original Burmese product.|
Loi Kratong at night
So far I thought while riding through this part of the mountains that there are some people here and there living in the small villages and towns, nowhere is there any congestion, not much traffic to speak of, and everything runs smoothly and very relaxed.
And then this: At night tens of thousands of people come in mini-busses, pickup trucks cars, and of course the self-evident scooters down to the river Pai, some 10 km out of town to celebrate the festival. What a sight. A movie clip is better capable to give a flavor of what is going on at this rural outdoor event. Check out my videos on Youtube here:
|Downtown lake Mae Hong Son|
|Tow boys getting ready to float their Loi Kratong|
|Down at the river Pai, the full moon is beautiful.|
|It is a touching feeling to see the little floats which took so much time to get crafted being carried away by the river current.|
|River Pai and the party grounds the day after.|