Loy Krathong is a wonderful and colourful festival celebrated every year of the night of the full moon of the twelfth lunar month. In Thai, Loy means to float and Krathong means a circular floating object embellished with banana leaves, flowers a candle and incense stick, sometimes with even a deposit of money, small change of course.
The history of Loy Krathong is interesting but rather obscure. Some believe that the celebration was started by Tao Sri Chulalak or Nong Noppamas in Sukothai. While others believe it is a ritual: to pay respect to the Goddess of Water and showing gratitude on the use or misuse of water.
It is a delightful celebration, especially seeing the river at night amass with small floats with candles burning and incense sticks burning. What makes it even more intriguing is seeing innocent excited infants with their eyes all aglow as they watch their smoking float drifting off down the khlong (canal). For Thai, this is a great social activity for all the family.
Sunday, October 13, 2011
My bus arrived and then I travelled back to Bang Wa after working all day at a language school. I arrived at Bang Wa and started to walk down towards my apartment, which was situated near the khlong Bang Wa across from the Wat Rang Bua. It was then that I realized tonight was Loy Krathong.
As a friend once put it, Loy Krathong is when people place floats in the rivers and khlongs, consisting of joss sticks, a candle and sometimes money. It was to apologize to the river god for polluting the river.
During the evening fireworks were set off and in some areas entertainment was put on and a string of multi-coloured light had been hung up for this display.
From my apartment, which overlooked the local khlong, I could see quite clearly all the activity as it happening. The good local citizens were placing their individual floats into the khlong with burning sticks and candle inside them. They floated down the khlong in an impressive, illuminated, flotilla, formation.
However, out of sight from of the pier, you could see children and teenagers swimming in the dirty murky khlong, with large plastic drums that they’d attached to themselves.
These thieves intercepted the floats one by one and looted them for their money. Once the bounty had been snatched, the floats were literally discarded and tossed to one side or sunk on the spot. Criminal, if you ask me. Possibly even piracy? Yes, these were simply children being opportunists and cashing in on the event.
On purpose, I decided to embarrass them, I went outside and walked up to the khlong and then started throwing little stones at them, more to cause a splash than to hit them, although this would have made excellent target practice if I’d decided to have been more vindictive for what they were doing.
I entered my apartment, showered, changed and then went out for dinner. On my return, I had a cunning plan up my sleeve, initially, I decided that I’d shine my torch on the khlong villains if only to shame them, but when I got outside, I noticed Sallean sitting there with her friend having a nice quiet chat together.
She was a 26-year-old a single Hindu woman, with long beautiful dark hair and exotically pretty too. She lived here on her own and had a rather athletic physique figure.
Although I didn’t know much about her, I’d always wanted the chance to befriend her. I’d passed her many times, and we’d exchanged smiles, but nothing had ever materialised from it.
Wasting no time, I discarded my plan A, and put my plan B into operation (not that there had ever been a plan B). I walked straight over towards them and instantly started chatting away to them. Sallean looked at me, she seemed more than happy for me to join them. On the table were their two floats.
We conversed about our occupations and other interesting things. Every time Sallean laughed at me she slapped me on my thigh. I considered this to be a good sign. I presumed that this was just her way of acknowledging my presence and sharing a joke with me. Not that I was intending to object to it
I felt extremely comfortable in Sallean’s company, possibly too comfortable for my own good. This was a woman that I desperately wanted to get to know as a friend, but I was aware that this could be dangerous and knowing me, I would probably be the one that would end up being taken advantage of eventually.
Sallean and her friend then wanted to sail their floats away and have dinner. They invited me to join them, but I declined the offer on personal grounds. Better to leave on a good note, I thought.
The pirates on the Khlong Bang Wa were still at it. Unfortunately, the crocodiles hadn’t caught up with them yet, nor had the Thai Royal Navy, but I wondered if piracy was actually punishable by hanging in this country? It was in the UK, technically up until 1998.
I retired to my room to dream about, ‘The Pirates of the Bangkok Khlongs,’ which doesn’t have the same ring about it as the ‘Pirates of the Carrabian,’ but there was definitely no ‘Treasure Island,’or ‘Yo Ho Ho And A Bottle of Rum, ’ – eat your heart out, Robert Louis Stevenson.