Last Saturday was the full moon day of the 12th lunar month, or Loi Krathong, which literally means “launch krathong” – not that that helps much. A krathong is a small, lotus-shaped vessel made out of banana leaf and decorated with flowers, a candle, three incense sticks, a coin and hair and nail clippings.The weather has changed. It’s now cool and breezy. The rains have finished, and the water levels are high. It’s the start of a new year, and time to let go of the past. As one watches one’s krathong float into the distance, it takes one’s sins and bad luck with it.

Krathong, large and small

My krathong (image below) was made by the mother of a friend, but there are plenty of roadside stalls selling them if you don’t want to make your own. Often, the base is now made of styrofoam, which is less than ecologically friendly, so some shops sell bread krathong, which give you extra merit as the fish eat the bread.

My krathong, 2007

Loi Krathong also a time for partying. The streets were clogged with youngsters on their motorbikes. Big fairs were set up on almost any piece of vacant ground. The river banks were crowded with revellers.

Unfortunately, every year the high jinks results in deaths. This year a truck slammed into a motorbike and side car, killing seven villagers, including two elderly people and a four year old girl. The newspapers poignantly report that the victims’ krathongs were found scattered around the scene. Another truck hit three people on a motorbike, killing them all. The driver fled the scene.
Elsewhere a violent brawl ended in one death; the victim was shot. And Tomoko, a female Japanese tourist, was murdered, her throat slit and belongings stolen.

Beauty and brutality, all on one day.


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