Category Archives: Religion

Finding Serenity on Cycles South of Chiang Mai

I forgot to add in yesterday’s post that Thais are very calm and collected people. Even their toddlers have composed tantrums. The most common phrase here is Mai Pen Rai or “never mind” and Chai Yen Yen or “take it easy”.

It’s this serenity that I was hoping to find by parking the family in Chiang Mai for a month. Unfortunately, because we chose to stay close to the Old City, we very much feel like we are still living in a city. We sought respite today by taking a private cycling trip south of Chiang Mai.

It was Ava and Kayan’s first time on cycles. By on cycles, I mean strapped to them. One objective of this trip that is already playing out is Ava and Kayan bonding. They are so attached to each other that they refused to sit in separate trailers. This worked out well for Sandeep since he was excited about getting some outdoor exercise. And it worked out well for me because I am all about leisure.

Our guide, Meaow, was patient with the kids (yes, Kayan had another tantrum, but it was on a much smaller scale today) and gave us an orientation to Thai Buddhism. The Buddhist temples I had seen in other parts of Asia are less ornate than the ones in Thailand. Her explanation was that the temples are bright to represent light or ‘the way’.  I don’t know much about Thai Buddhism, and have added that to my things-to-learn-on-this trip list.

Ava was having some trouble with the way, because when she saw this Ferris wheel, she said “Look Mom, we reached Coney Island!”

We got our break from the city and have already asked Meaow to take us out next week to visit Doi Saket, a nearby mountain. I hope Sandeep is still up for carting the two kids when we reach those hills.


Filed under Health, Religion, Thailand

Letting go of Misfortunes at Loi Krathong

As some readers know, I’ve been chronicling parts of this journey for Huffington Post. Most HuffPo posts are unique from this blog, but this is the first post where there is similar material. If you have already read the HuffPo piece, you can look forward to some more personal insights here.

Call it fate, luck, karma. We all try to reconcile or pasts and wish for better futures. Cultures around the world have created festivals around doing so.  We’ve been celebrating the Northern Thai way for the past three days during the Loi Krathong and Yi Peng festivities.

The Loi Krathong portion involves setting floats adrift to pay homage to the spirit of the water. The float takes away the bad parts of the person giving the offering. During Yi Peng, paper hot air lanterns are released into the air, taking misfortunes with them.

Every door in Chiang Mai is decorated with lanterns, the streets are streaming 24 hour music and it seems that every resident is putting on a backyard fireworks display.

Here we are visiting the decorated gates along the Old City moat.

Kayan and Diya Loi Krathong

Kayan and Diya Loi Krathong

Ava and Kayan colored their own Khom Loi, or hot air lantern, during a party at JJ Market. This video shows them braving the fire to let go of their Khom Loi.

If you’re interested in releasing your own Khom Loi ( FDNY would be at our door in no time if we tried to do this in New York City), here is a step by step guide. This is shown on the smallest Khom Loi. They come in sizes up to about 4 feet, which require at least 4 people to light.

Light the fuel cell.

Wait for your Khom Loi to fill up with air.

Slowly release it.

And bid your misfortunes away.

Happy Loi Krathong.

We have another opportunity to hope our futures are bright when we attend the kite flying festival for Makar Sakranti on January 14, 2012 in Varanasi, India. Stay tuned.


Filed under Religion, Thailand