Last night I arrived in Bangkok, Thailand on the day of Loi Krathong, a festival of lights, giving up things that don't serve you and love. Loi means light and krathong is float, so let your imagination go wild in a country full of waterways!I met a guy from India named Vikas in the hostel right away and we went out to see if we could catch any of the last bits of the festival even though it was already late, at least by Nepal standards (maybe 9:45pm).
We hopped in a tuk tuk, a 3-wheeled vehicle with flashing lights and 3 seats behind the driver and no windows, then high-tailed it to the closest pier to our hostel.We arrived just in time; we each bought a Kratong, a delicate creation of banana leaves, flowers, incense and candles (35 baht each, about $1) and walked through the milling crowds to the pier. There we wondered what to do as everything seemed to be confusion and waiting around. So Viki, as he told me so I could remember his name, asked a Thai woman if we should float our krathongs right then. She said "No! Wait for fire!" which Viki correctly interpreted as "There will be fireworks then we float them"
Shortly after the big fireworks show started, sparkling off of high rises and the rushing river below. The crowd was perfect; tons of "oooh!"s and "ahhh!"s filled the air throughout the fireworks display. Then we hurried down the dock, lit our candles and incense and sent the krathongs out into the water. It was a beautiful sight, although the stiff breeze that held off the immense heat of the night quickly distinguished all the candles, it felt good to send it off with my worries and think of loved ones.
Today I learned that although a city might look well organized, me navigating it smoothly is quite another thing indeed. In short: lots of boat rides on an overpriced ferry in the wrong direction, lots of misinformation and confustion regarding entrance to the Grand Palace and meeting a really great girl named Vanessa from Australia.
Hopefully tomorrow will be smoother...Thai massage is in the cards!