Finally, the big (and final) night of the Loy Kratong (Yee Peng) festival had arrived. With festivities kicking off at sunset, and hours of photography ahead, we spent the day sparing our energies. We visited the local market, ate out favourite food and read in our room.
By sunset time, we were off and ready for a long, crazy night ahead. Many streets were already closed to car traffic, and the streets were filled with people and vendors. Even Travis was armed with his camera, and for once was taking as many photos as me.
We headed to Wat (temple) Phan Tao, my biggest hope for awesome photographs. We had visited the temple earlier in the week, and it was by pure fluke that I ended up behind the temple’s Buddha looking at old pictures, and saw one from past festivities. I was hoping that this would be a tradition, and I was not disappointed when we arrived. The back corner of the temple’s ground had been cleared to make room for hundreds of candles, and monks in saffron robes were busy at work lighting them one by one. A small river separated the hordes of photographers from the monks, and it made for an interesting scene where everyone was trying to get “the shot”, even if it meant elbowing the person next to you. Travis, with his small camera stood no chance in the mass of SLR and tripods, but I found a few great spot and stood my ground. It was such a beautiful thing to watch, and by far the highlight of our night.
With all the candles lit and the angles covered, we headed back to the street. We found colourful lanterns in front of the municipal building, along with traditional Thai dancing.
We also encountered a parade, heading towards the river to release floats. It was quite ornate and beautiful!
In the end, we headed back at the Nawarat bridge over the Ping river in hope for more sky lanterns shots. The area was complete insanity, a lot crazier than yesterday! The streets were packed solid, and the amount of fireworks and firecrackers made it feel and sound like a war zone. We grabbed shots, released a few lanterns, and soon enough our nerves were shot – we couldn’t handle the madness any longer!
On the way home we found a quiet temple where we released our last lantern, and watched it go right up towards the moon. It was magical!
By the time we got back to the room, we were exhausted but ecstatic. It had been a fantastic night, with some of the best photo opportunities yet. We had shot non-stop for over 6 hours, and it had been so worth it!