Festival at the Lake

Last night I went to the lake with Mot and Doy for a festival. I wish I could tell you about the purpose of the festival, but neither Mot nor Doy knew what the purpose was. The only thing I learned is that it coincides with the “Dragon fire ball” festival that takes place in another town in northeastern Thailand. There is a river that has bubbles of fire that come to the surface every year at this time. People travel to this town and sit by the river waiting to see some fire balls. It sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Mot and Doy told me that they went last year and it was horribly boring. They didn’t see any fireballs and they sat around in the dark for 3 hours!

Anyway, the festival was really interesting. There were a lot of young monks at the festival. Some of them looked to be between the ages of 7 and 12. They were making floating lanterns out of banana leaves, flowers, candles, and incense. People bought the lanterns, lit the candles and incense, and put them in the lake. The floating lanterns were really beautiful. People were also buying fish, eels, and baby turtles to release into the lake. Doy said that you are supposed to make a wish and then release the animal. A few people also made some flying paper lanterns. I took a couple of pictures of someone trying to light one of these lanterns. What surprised me about the lighting of the lanterns is that they actually set the grass on fire and then lit the lantern with the fire from the grass.

While we were at the festival, we also stopped to watch a tournament for a game that involves throwing metal balls around. I didn’t catch the name of the sport, but the players said that it’s a French game. It was fun to watch the game for awhile, but the highlight was interacting with the players. They were so friendly! The Thai people Dave & I interacted with in Bangkok and Phuket were nice, but none of them were as friendly as the people here in Khon Kaen. Last night I was feeling really lucky to be in Khon Kaen.

We wanted to watch a Thai dance performance at the festival, but we had seen everything and didn’t want to wait around at the lake for the hour before the performance was to start. Mod and Doy totally surprised me by going to a bar to have a beer. Everything I’ve read about Thai culture has said that it is unacceptable for Thai women to drink alcohol. Mod is particularly traditional, so I would never have imagined that she would step foot in a bar. Mod actually didn’t drink because she drove us to the lake. Doy ordered a pitcher of Leo Light beer for us to share. The strange thing about the beer was that it was served with ice in it!

We went back to the lake to watch the dancing only to learn that the dance performance had been postponed to 11 pm. We decided to leave. It was a really fun night. It was the first time I had met Doy, and I had a good time talking with her.

Click here to see some pictures of us at the bar and of the paper lanterns being lit.

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