To celebrate the start of 2017 we decided to travel into Chiang Mai city to see what was happening.
We started locally at a little cafe in Saraphi which was having its new year’s party with music and song. They also had 2 Ducati Monster motorbikes in a showroom that kept Noel very happy. There were no buses and we couldn’t find a taxi. So phone calls were made (in Thai of course) and an hour later a white car arrived to take us into the city. We suspect it was a husband and wife going in as well and we helped fund their evening out.
We arrived at one of the city gates and the picture shows what we saw. Thousands and thousands of sky lanterns being lit and set off. A truly remarkable sight. Our camera could not begin to show what it looked like so we have used a photo from Google.
We decided to wander and went through a long street market and into a wat to eat street food of pad thai and spring rolls. Seeing there were a lot of Thai people around us we decided to go into the temple. Many people were sat in the floor with a poster of the wat and everyone went to the front to donate what looked like gold cooking foil. A monk was speaking and at 11.30pm everyone reached above them to put a piece of white string around their heads. It looked very strange but also very important. We later learnt the string was connected to the main Buddha statue and everyone who had tied the string around them felt connected to the Buddha, the wat, the monks and each other. We had decided not to take part because we did not understand the ceremony and did not want to offend anyone. On reflection perhaps we could have joined in. All in the learning.
We returned to main square for a countdown to 2017 with mainly western tourists and it was a real contrast to the wat. Noisy and shoving and a different type of enjoyment. As 2017 arrived even more sky lanterns were sent upwards, some soaring and some crashing into trees destined for no great journey into the heavens.
As the lanterns are not environmentally friendly we decided not to add to the amount of wood, paper and metal going skyward and ultimately ground wards. It was however a marvellous sight to witness.
Our taxi home meant that our celebration was over by 1.3oam. Our new year’s day has been spent considering our friends and family and we have a candle burning in the house sit to allow us to remember everyone we know and love.
Our hosts arrive back from Myanmar tonight so we are having a final clean and tidy while consider the year ahead. Getting ready to make sail.