Loy Krathong: Thailand's true full moon party
Thank god it's the weekend! This week has been a mixture of emotions - I've felt both overjoyed with pride and drained to the point of tears. I've had moments where I've questioned what I'm doing here; the realisation that I'm here teaching for another 5 months finally dawned on me, accompanied by thoughts of self doubt and fear. Admittedly, these moments were when I was absolutely exhausted and emotional.
I started doing private tutoring this week, and my first two boys did not remember a single thing I had taught them in class. I was so disheartened that it sparked off this downward spiral of questioning my abilities as a teacher. Luckily, the second tutoring session I had was with three of my girls, who remembered pretty much everything from last week! They were enthusiastic despite having been at school from 7:30-4:30 before tutoring, and faith in myself was restored! Since then I've been a lot happier and back to enjoying my job.
I know these ups and downs are all part of the experience, but that thought isn't very consoling on the down times.
Me and my Kratong
Thursday night was the full moon of November-the 12th lunar month of the thai calendar- which means that everyone in Thailand celebrates the Loy Krathong Festival of light. Everybody takes a small floating vessel -a kratong- made from wood, banana leaves and lotus flowers which holds three incense sticks and a candle to a river. Under the awesome light of the full moon, you pay thanks to the goddess of water, ask for forgiveness of your sins and release your negative emotions, by floating away your kratong. As your kratong floats down the river, you keep an eye on the candle- if it burns bright, it is supposed to bring you good luck for the rest of the year.
It is such a beautiful and intensely symbolic ceremony, and wonderful to be a part of. Our landlord and landlady - who are two of the loveliest people I've ever met- took 15 of us in the back of their truck to the festival, where we bought a Kratong and floated it away on a large lake. We then went to the local night markets to get some street food (I had som tum- papaya salad- the national dish of Thailand, which is made with 3 chillies!)
A few of us then went out for a drink and the lady who ran the bar invited us to share her and her son's special moment, in which they floated their Kratong and let off a sky lantern. It was really magical, listening to the lady say a prayer with such sincerity and genuine hope for a better future. We all had one hand on the lantern, making a wish as it filled up with hot air before being released into the night sky, along with our wishes.
It must have been burdened with the weight of our wishes because it got caught in a tree! But the atmosphere we all created was wonderful- it's amazing how intensely happy you can feel by sharing such a personal, special moment with strangers. It was an evening that I'll remember for the rest of my life.
Happy loy Kratong!