Yee Ping Year Three – The Anatomy Of A No-Good, Very Very Bad Idea.

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:


  1. Tracy A. Williams

    I’ve had excellent experiences in the past, but this year, especially when the rain hit and I was cuddled up inside, I was so glad I didn’t go this time. What’s the deal with all the disrespectful tour groups that Daniel Nahabedian wrote about? ugh; sad.

  2. Yeah I was disappointed to hear about that, they really should wait for the event to release lanterns! It’s not really the same (even from the video, you can see in the post) because it seems like only half the sky is filled, because one side was all tour groups. I know some people who went there for the first time this year had a great time and were just as wowed as I was the first time, but I know I would have been a little sad to attend this year too!

  3. Tracy, I wasn’t paying very close attention at the time, but in the video it seems as though many more lanterns came in from one side of the field than the other, which Daniel explained as being because those tour groups couldn’t follow directions. Despite my frustrations, this was the first Yi Ping for a lot of people we know, and they all still seem pretty blown away by it, so I am really glad that people still enjoyed it, and it seems only people who have done it before seemed to notice anything un-fun was going on.

  4. I’m sure newcomers didn’t notice but half the field was fenced for tour groups who couldn’t even shut up during the meditation part. We seriously couldn’t hear the monk speaking.
    And because it was so packed, there barely was space to move around and take photos.
    I don’t understand why the tour groups when there’s already another event for tourists anyway.

  5. Ughh, I was wondering who was stuck out on a motorbike in that storm. It was brutal! Love your footage:)

  6. Tracy A. Williams

    Oh, I can definitely see how it’s a pretty amazing experience for a first-timer. But, I know I’d have been bummed to hear people talking during the monks chanting. I am glad though, that so many of my friends who went still found it to be a moving and special exerience. I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer. See: :)!

  7. Thank goodness for Cole refusing to wear his pants! The video perspective is beautiful but sorry to hear tours need to be accommodated. Sounds like the operators need to educate their groups about appropriate respect and behaviour. Thanks for sharing the moment with us!

  8. Wow, beautiful videos (both 2012 and 2010). I’ve never been in thailand in November, but after seeing this, I’m realizing its a must. Hope you guys are doing well!

  9. I want not to laugh because it seems mean…!!!

    Ps love the video. It’s the same festival you captured in your documentary, isn’t it?

  10. The video is absolutely stunning. It reminds me of the ocean…for some reason I think of anemones….

  11. I enjoyed watching the videos.It is great and amazing!I never experience Yee Ping lantern release before but seeing the videos makes me feel that I’m there too.Thanks for sharing.

  12. And to think that had I not opted to resettle here in Dalat, Vietnam (vs. CM) this year, I’d have been there to see it myself.

    I do indeed A.DORE dear Dalat, but I’m thinkin’ next November, I best be tucked into CM to experience Yee Ping.

    Nicely done, Drew!

  13. Really? You were rushed, and late, and you shot THAT? Very impressive, love the time changes, the music, the perspective, and especially the un-noodle soup! Too funny 🙂

  14. I love the video! What a crazy night. Rainfall and no noodles. i will be sure to learn how to say noodles so I can have some. I cannot wait until it’s our turn to see the lanterns in person.

  15. Love the video and cannot wait for us to see it in person. Too bad it rained. My first word will be noodle!

  16. The video turned out much better than the soup. I really like the perspective. Absolutely lovely.

  17. I really enjoyed watching video! love it.So beautiful…Nice post.

  18. I loved the video and the music. Sounds like something I should try if I ever get to Thailand!

  19. I really enjoyed reading this article, I love the aspect of traveling that you get to participate in a lovely local festival like this.