Saturday, March 12, 2011

New Year's Eve in Chiang Mai

    Had I had the energy, I could have done an entire photo essay on backpackers consulting their copies of the Lonely Planet guide. It's a heavy volume to cart around, in fact, heresy, but people have been known to --shock, horror--just tear out the pages they want and leave the mangled remains at home.
   We didn't so we were able to duplicate, in a small way, the experience pictured on the cover of the current edition which shows the lighting of paper lanterns on New Year's Eve. Not sure if it's in Chiang Mai but that's where we found ourselves on December 31, 2010.
Armed with a dozen paper lanterns, we made our way to the riverside and, at intervals, set one alight and launched it into the air. 


    Across the water, we could see literally hundreds of them, like fire-flies, soaring across the night sky. Someone told us that you package all your negative thoughts from the waning year and send them into oblivion. It was magical, all of it, unfolding your lantern, and the growing excitement as you lit it, and let the hot air inside expand the paper to the point where you could safely send it aloft.
     Not my video so thanks to the person who posted it on YouTube. P.S. Those fireworks were magnificent.

    We saw the New Year in, then made our way through the crowded streets, five of us crammed into a single tuk-tuk.
    The next morning the streets of Chiang Mai were littered with what looked like giant bats that had run afoul of the electric wires overhead: the tattered and burned remains of all those lanterns.

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