It was chaos in the streets. Beautiful, happy, golden chaos.
Foreigners, locals, young and old were packed, turning the streets into rivers of hot sweaty bodies. Some still tried to ever so slowly ride their motorbikes against the current.
But everyone was smiling. I don’t remember a single scowl.
We made the trek–to exactly where, we weren’t really sure. We just knew we were going where we were supposed to go. Lanterns were beginning to ignite in the distance.
When we finally reached the place, I watched as seasoned pros and nervous tourists alike lit their own lanterns above their heads.
Then it was our turn to try the dance. We held up the ordinary sack of paper and lifted a rusty lighter to the centre, waited as the lantern found its footing.
Slowly, hot air began to work it’s magic. With a sigh of relief, it lifted up until gravity seized to exist and it gave a gentle tug out of our hands.
Would it collapse? Would the flame get blown sidewise and ignite the paper?
It kept rising and rising, joining its friends. It knew where to go.
They didn’t all rise so gracefully, though. One got caught on a tree. We bit our nails. A police officer stepped into the street and we wondered if he was going to call an end to the party.
He presented a small ladder and climbed up to carefully grasp the lantern, manoeuvred it out of the branches, and brought it back down to earth, without setting the tree on fire.
Then, as if he’d done it a hundred times before, lifted his arms and released the lantern back into the sky, where it floated higher and higher.
There were cheers.
The world lit up.
Loy Krathong – Chiang Mai, November 2018