Loy kathrong festival in Chiang Rai

Music is vibrating the bench seat of the tuk tuk. Four of us are crammed into this little carriage, our features lit by neon pink and blue lights, the driver seems totally oblivious to the music he’s blaring- and to the reactions of those we pass.

Stuck in traffic we stop behind a ute full of people, we smile at them and them as us, before long we are all dancing to this weird mix of 80s and techno music.

The night was just beginning, the traffic was so thick because we were all headed to the same place at the same time: to the river! It’s November 14th, the super moon is on the rise and loy kathrong festival has arrived.

We wedge ourselves into the crowd that is shuffling down the narrow alley of market stalls selling food, flower baskets and small, live turtles and snakes in bags (to be released along side the flower baskets). We each buy a flower basket, delicately full of petals and containing three incense sticks and a candle. Finally the crowds disperse as we reach the water.

Shoes off we are knee deep in the river, mud reaching up between our toes. The water is black and dotted with candles drifting down current, an abstract mirror of the night sky.

We light our candles, waft the incense around and release our little baskets along side the many locals, paying respects to the goddess of water. That was such a moment. One of the moments that make you stop and just think ‘this is the point.’ And I did stop, the others went back to shore but something held me there, the ground became quick sand and it was sucking me in to show me life’s beauty. So I stayed, staring somewhere between the epic super moon shining down on me and the hundreds of baskets floating by my sides…

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