Chiang Mai is a bustling little city in north Thailand full of smoky, delicious and dirt cheap food carts, thai housewives on motor bikes and myriad monks (still don't know how to act around a monk, but I impulse to pulling my skirt lower, hugging my shoulders and frowning....awkward much?).
While here I got to attend the local Loy Krathong (Festival of Lights) where everyone gathers to set off thousands of lanterns in sync creating a miraculous night sky. This was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I was lucky to be there with new and old friends (one who had been before) so I didn't have to absorb this magical moment alone.
I spent the next few days staying at the Diva Guest House and blending like a local. On most days, I rented a bicycle, lazed around in my hammock, read on the rooftop, wrote in different coffee shops and ate more Khao soi (a local special) than I should have. It was splendid.
My first goal for this adventure was to learn how to take a step back from the busy, incredibly distracted bubble I call "my life" to slow down and reflect. Thanks to chill Chiang Mai, I started this journey off just they way I intended.
Khao soi: a traditional dish from Northern Thailand prepared with both crispy and soft egg noodles, potatoes, mushrooms, tofu and spicy curry (comes with chicken, pork or tofu).
Loy Krathong is an event which does not occur on the same date every year; instead it counts on the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month. People look forward to going out and launching Krathongs together to predict the romance future by the direction the Krathongs float. This particular Loy Krathong celebration refers to flying away misfortune and bad things in the past and asking for good luck in the future.
TIPS FROM ME:
Arrive early (between 3-5pm).
Share a tuk tuk with a big group to keep cost low.
Bring a fan, umbrella and hat.
Don't buy lanterns until you enter the REAL gate (which is also when they make you finish your beer).
Bring a camera with a really good zoom.
Keep in mind, it is poor Thai etiquette to step over people so don't work your way closer by doing so.
Watch out for fireworks!
There are three releases (the Buddah, the Teachings and Community). Buy three lanterns and don't forget a lighter.