lanterns rising, Loi Krathong
On the twelth full moon of the year, the Thais celebrate Loi Krathong—loud fireworks, floats bearing young beauties, paper lanterns everywhere. There was an eclipse while I was in Australia, so I assumed that I’d missed the full moon in Chiang Mai (on the other side of the equator)! The night before last, hours of amplified pageantry music drifted across the city, and I began to rethink full moons. I hadn’t missed it after all, but I was too lazy to get out of bed.
Fireworks continued to explode all through yesterday. I retreated early to Veerachai Court (where I lived in June). The internet connection in my former room was poor, so I’d been using a net cafe. Maybe the wi-fi reception is better at this end of the fourth floor, I thought. The noise of the fireworks was getting to me. When you’re going down, do something! (a forty-five year old echo from my flight instructor, another story). I decided to buy an hour of internet time.
I dressed, hung my passport around my neck, stepped out the door, and was utterly astonished to see the night sky transformed. Hundreds of bright orange stars were ascending slowly and steadily, forming constellations that shifted and evolved in a curiously human movement, as though each star were a searching soul, a hope, or a dream.
The lanterns rose in the darkness for hours from all quarters of the city, tens of thousands, some disappearing into thin clouds that intermittently obscured the moon. Here and there, if you looked closely, you could distinguish gray lanterns like ghostly parachutes floating back to earth. How wonderful, how Thai, to fill the sky with prayer and celebration, humanity—gentle, glowing, aspiring.