Today’s post is by my husband, Drew — you’ll see why in a minute. ~Christine
Listen, we’re professionals, people. It’s Chiang Mai in November, which means it’s Loi Krathong time. We’re in our element.
The only problem: In the lead-up to this year’s Yee Ping lantern release, the atmosphere in Chiang Mai seemed way less festive, the result of making the event happen a week before Loi Kratong would truly get started. Our enthusiasm wasn’t quite there.
“But we have to go, we have to shoot it!” We both agreed. We came up with a
brilliant plan: Go late, leave early. Last year, Cole was beyond overtired by the time the event was over, it made perfect sense to just pop in before the lanterns were let loose, snap some pictures and duck out before the crushing horde made their exit. Easy breezy.
When it came time to leave, Cole let it be known clearly and enthusiastically that pants were not welcome on his person. That turned out to be the best idea he ever had. So I went on my own, leaving Christine and Cole behind but promising to bring back full “coverage” of the event.
Arriving late turned out to a really stupid idea. The crowd this year was worse than either of the two previous years. For anyone who has been to Thailand, the idea of muscling your way through a crowd probably sounds a little vulgar. Northern Thai in particular are not pushy by any stretch. Had I been in China I would have brought a club of some kind and body-checked my way through, but here, I was forced to invent “polite shoving”. Even then, I had only just crossed into the main lantern area when the PA informed everyone to light their lanterns. In a panic, I stopped dead and set up my tripod.
If you can’t view the video below, please click here.
An hour after the event, spent moving at a blistering 1 meter per minute, I finally made it back to the moto for the 25 minute ride home. As I made my way onto a street I had no hope of leaving, I got this email from Christine:
Like in some sort of cliche’d movie, the wind immediately started to howl, a street lamp went out, and every person in a 20 foot radius comically reacted with “AAAAHHHHH!” and those that could, started running. The rest of us who couldn’t, looked around at each other and braced for it. Since my bike wasn’t moving anyway, I jumped off and clumsily crammed my camera bag in the bike’s carrier and put my iPhone in the seat, praying there wouldn’t be any leaks.
I don’t know who among you have experienced driving a scooter while sheets of rain are coming down on top of you, frankly, I don’t recommend it. My instinctual reaction wasn’t much different to a cornered dog. I literally found myself growling at the rain, grimacing, only one eye cracked open enough to navigate the street as I sloooowly made my way. Growling gave way to shivering as I finally got out of the main grounds to something resembling a normal town, and pulled up to the first place I found serving food with a roof overhead. At this place, they only serve soup. I love soup, but I avoid ordering soup at street stands in Thailand, because like an idiot, even after a year spent here in total, I haven’t made the effort to learn the Thai word for “noodles” or the names of soups I like. I pointed vaguely to a plate she was preparing and said “moo?” (it means pork in Thai, yes that is funny and weird). She replies with “Soup?” I nod. This is going fantastically! I look around at everyone’s varied types of meat and noodle soup and sit down, wringing the front of my shirt out onto the cement floor.
The soup comes out. No noodles, just this.
Ugh, I really, really need to learn more Thai. It was warm though, and I ate it, praying that everyone wasn’t looking at the only farang (foreigner) in the joint and wondering why he wanted a bone marrow/tendon soup without any delicious noodles.
Two hours later, I was soaked to the bone, cold, and very thankful that I had gone on this stupid, stressful mission on my own rather than subjecting my family to the craziness of Yee Ping this year.
I’m kind of happy with the video though, I tried to do something different, to give a new view of the lantern release (this time with a little full moon and fireworks action):
Watch it here or below: