The Loy Krathong festival is celebrated on the island of Koh Lanta in a typically low-key but still fun way
A slightly belated post: last week I celebrated the Loy Krathong festival on the island of Koh Lanta with friends old and new. I was on the island to visit my friends Rob and Ning, and my old mates Ayesha and Wilco also joined us, along with my Bangkok dive buddy Michael and two cool people I met through Twitter, Janelle and Russ, who had both just arrived in Thailand.
The Loy Krathong festival is supposed to originate from ancient rituals paying respect to the water gods, but these days it is associated with floating bad luck away as the krathong is launched into the water and wishing for better luck in the future.
Loy Krathong usually coincides with the Yi Peng lantern festival, where huge paper lanterns are lit up from inside and set off to blaze a trail against the night sky. They are one of Thailand’s most beautiful sights, especially when seen en masse. As such, you’ll see people both launching krathongs into the water and lanterns into the sky.
While there are some truly spectacular celebrations of Loy Krathong each year in Thailand – Chiang Mai and Sukhothai usually winning the most accolades thanks to the dazzling number of lanterns in the sky – Lanta has its own low key charm, with festivities centering around the wooden village of Lanta Old Town down in the south east of the island. (You can read more about the 2010 Yi Peng festival in Chiang Mai on Richard Barrow’s blog – he has a very nice account and photos).
After a bumpy and very fast-moving ride in the back of a pick up truck across Koh Lanta to get us all to Old Town, we hung around for a bit to watch the dancing and music on the main stage that had been set up. There was a real carnival atmosphere with hundreds of people milling about at the water’s edge and also around the stage. There were some massive krathongs that had been created purely for show rather than to be launched into the water. Meanwhile, quite a few krathongs had already been launched and were bobbing at the water’s edge where they’d been pushed back by the tide.
Once we’d launched our own krathongs, watched some lanterns being set off into the night sky and taken in the festivities on stage, we wandered off into the single street of the old town, which has numerous beautiful old wooden houses, several of which have bars at the back over the water – perfect to watch more lanterns launching into the night with a cold beer.