I finished my month long CELTA course last weekend and decided to go and lie by the Lotus hotel pool at Kad Suan Kaew shopping center in Chiang Mai. I had intended to sleep and wind down after a hugely stressful month.
Loi Krathong festival (also commonly spelt ‘Loy Kratong’) is celebrated in Thailand on the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar – which means it usually falls in November in the Western calendar.
“Loi” means “to float” and a “Krathong” is a small raft, traditionally made from a section of banana tree trunk decorated with elaborately-folded banana leaves, flowers, candles and incense sticks. The Thais float these on rivers and lakes throughout Thailand during Loi Krathong. The Thai tradition of Loy Kratong started off in Sukhothai, but it is now widely celebrated throughout Thailand, with the festivities in Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya also being particularly well known.
Apart from venerating the Buddha with light (the candle on the raft), the act of floating away the candle raft is symbolic of letting go of all one’s grudges, anger and bad luck, so that one can start life afresh on a better foot. People will also cut their fingernails and hair and add them to the raft as a symbol of letting go of negative influences.
I have wanted to experience the Loi Krathong festival at Sukhothai since I first arrived in Thailand more than two years ago, and this weekend I finally made it! This podcast begins before I traveled to Sukhothai, sitting on a sunny bank by a lake in Mae Sot near the Burma border…
Every Sunday in Chiang Mai, from about 4pm until as late as midnight, a market known variously as the ‘Sunday Market’, or the ‘Walking Street Market’ takes place in Chiang Mai. The Sunday Market has, in recent years, become a bit of an institution in Chiang Mai – with many thousands of locals and foreigners turning up to browse, buy, and eat from the various street stalls or simply socialise with their friends.
The Sunday Market is also the best place in Chiang Mai to see genuine Thai style street entertainment. Right along the length of the Ratchadamnoen Road are pavement artists – from traditional musicians, Thai dancers and living statues to puppet shows and busking bands.
This weekend Tina and I headed to the Sunday Market with our recording equipment in hand, in an attempt to bring you some of the sounds and atmosphere. We hope you enjoy it!
Sunday Market location
Ratchadamnoen road, running East-West from around Tapae Gate (the East gate of the Chiang Mai Old Town) – every Sunday from about 4pm.
Ob Khan national park is one of our favourite local getaways. It’s about 30km South of Chiang Mai, and takes between 45 minutes and an hour to reach by motorbike. It’s a great spot for a picnic, or simply to cool off on a hot and humid Chiang Mai day. You can in fact also camp there very cheaply – they will even rent you camping gas cookers to cook with.
Getting there: Just head out of Chiang Mai South down Canal Road towards the Samoeng junction, and carry on. After a few more kilometers (at the time of writing down alternating sealed and unsealed dusty roads) you reach a turn off on the right with a fairly hard-to-see sign to ‘Ob Khan National Park’. Take this turn off, and make your way along a winding road through villages and country side for about another 10 kms. The last few kilometers wind their way through some beautiful National Park hills and valleys alongside the river Khan.
This was recorded from outside our house in Chiang Mai. We fall asleep with these sounds every night – from the Cicadas and barking dogs on a dry night, to thousands of mating frogs after the rains, it is never quiet outside! Is it any wonder we both sleep with earplugs?! The mating frogs come after the barking dogs.