While driving back from Central Airport Mall in Chiangmai, I looked up at the night sky and noticed there were pretty lights floating. Upon scrutiny, I realised it was paper lanterns that people have lit and set loose in the sky.
In Thailand, Khom Loy lanterns are released to chase away troubles, woes and bad luck. It also brings a sense of peace and hope for something better to come. The first time I released a Khom Loy lantern in Pai, I was shivering cold in my pyjamas, standing in the middle of a nowhere field, as Bryan slowly set the wax in the centre on fire. Then we waited for the hot air to fill the lantern before releasing it to the sky. the cold air lifted the lantern up and far away, as we stood there in the dark hugging each other. I felt like we had released our sad memories and were looking forward to a new future together.
So imagine my amazement as I gazed out of the car window and see tens of lanterns being released from the city itself. We decided to chase down the source of the lanterns as Bryan swiftly manouevered through Chiangmai traffic and one-way streets. We figured it was coming from one of the city temples and at one point, stopped at one of the streets behind the temples to take a good look at the lanterns. People from street side cafes and stalls were gazing at the sky with their mouths agape. This reminded me of the scene from Disney’s Tangled (Rapunzel), where her parents released hundreds of lanterns each year on her birthday in hopes that she will return one day.
The biggest display of lanterns can be seen during Loy Krathong Festival, usually held at the end of the year on the full moon of the 12th month of lunar calendar. In 2005 to mark the anniversary of the asian Tsunami, 5,000 lanterns were released in remembrance of those who lost their lives in Thailand.