This week my friend Richard, with whom I study in Austria, visited me from Kuala Lumpur where he is doing his exchange semester. After the first days of arrival, we departed from Bangkok for the highlight of his journey.
He came to Thailand in the beginning of November to be part of the world famous light festival called Loy Kratong. A lot of people normally associate this festival with the city of Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand. First we also wanted to go there, but after checking the internet we soon came to the conclusion that the whole city is booked out. After I was talking to some of my friends what we could do about this, because Richard really wanted to go to see this festival, they told me about the first capital of Thailand, Sukhothai. This is actually the place where the festival of Loy Kratong was founded, where the whole tradition took place for the first time. It didn’t take us long time to be convinced, this was the original festival in Thailand, and if we wanted to learn something about Thai traditions we should probably go there. We even accepted the fact that the place was far away and we had to do a journey of approximately 6 hours in car to get there.
So on the next Richard, me and two others friends started our journey Thursday night to go to Suhkothai. There was absolutely no traffic during the night, which was wonderful for me to witness, because I have rarely seen this city without any traffic.
We arrived at my friend’s house in the middle of the night, had a nice cold Chang and went to bed for a short rest. On the next the we visited the old temple area of Sukhothai. There we could see all those amazing and breathtaking temples and Buddha statues, that Thailand is so famous for. During the whole day there where a lot of people there but to our surprise not many foreigners.
It seemed that this was really a festival for Thai people. They were coming with their friends and families, mostly local people, to enjoy their traditions, some even came in traditional Thai clothing, there was a lot of food a big market with diverse products from Thailand and of course a lot of Kratongs. What is that. A Kratong is a medium sized swimming object, normally in the shape of a cake which is decorated with banana leaves, flowers candles and smoking sticks. On Loy Kratong people buy them, make a wish and release them to the water. So during the whole afternoon, people were buying those, and around 8 o’clock a lot of people gathered around the big lake of the area where the traditional Thai theater should take place. There were dancers and music, and the flying lampions that everybody is associating with that festival. To see this was such an amazing and unique experience. Afterwards the was a donation of the Royal family of eleven, huge and incredibly beautiful Kratongs that were given as a present to the people of Sukhothai. Some officials released them to the water. This took quite some time and really raised the tension for all visitors. After they were done, the real spectacle could begin. The big firework of Suhkothai.
I have heard many times that Asian people love fireworks but I have never witnessed one with my own eyes. Now I must admit, it is the truth. This simply blew my mind, for more the half an hour explosions of colors in the sky, perfectly choreographed, supported by music and lasers. It was simply breathtaking.
After it was over, it was like awakening from a dream. It left me stunned and on our way back home to my friend’s house I couldn’t forget about this experience. On the next day, we packed our stuff and went back to Bkk. Summing up I think going to Sukhothai during Loy Kratong is a really authentic experience, where you can observe Thai culture at its best. In my opinion it is more than a valid alternative for going to Chiang Mai which is for sure more internationalized, and people don’t get told all the stories and backgrounds of this festival. Therefore, I can only recommend to everybody to visit Sukhothai and be a witness of this wonderful ceremony.