Friday, October 17, 2014

Thailand's Festival of Lights

On your bucket list of places you'd like to travel, what's you number one? Loi Krathong the Festival of Lights in Thailand is by far my number one place/festival that I would like to see. 
During the full moon of the twelfth lunar month, Bangkok hosts the Festival of lights. Loi Krathong refers to the lotus-shaped receptacle that can float on the water. 
They can contain food, nuts, joss sticks (incense), flowers, coins and a compulsory candle. Building the Krathong is very symbolic ritual, once the Loi Krathong is made you make a wish and let it float away with the river. The flame of the candle signifies longevity, fulfillment of wishes and release from sins. (Source)
There are several legends linked to the origins of this festival. One holds that the festival began about 700 years ago when King Ramakhamhaeng of Sukhothai, the first Thai capital, was making a pilgrimage on the river from temple to temple. One of his wives wanted to please both the king and the Lord Buddha, so she created a paper lantern resembling a lotus flower (which symbolizes the flowering of the human spirit), put a candle in it, and set it afloat. The king was so delighted he decreed that his subjects should follow this custom on one night of the year. Fittingly, the ruins of Sukhothai are the backdrop on the night of Loi Krathong for celebrations that include displays of lighted candles, fireworks, folk dancing, and a spectacular sound-and-light presentation.
A second legend traces the festival to the more ancient practice of propitiating the Mother of Water, Me Khongkha. The aim is to thank Me Khongkha and wash away the sins of the past year. The coins in the lotus cups are meant as tokens to ask forgiveness for thoughtless ways.
In yet another story, the festival celebrates the lotus blossoms that sprang up when the Buddha took his first baby steps. (Source)
I'll be honest, the Loi Krathong isn't what draws me to this festival. It's the floats. To see the sky lit by these lanterns must be incredible. 
 One of the ways that I would love to see many different countries is by cycling through the country. Thailand is no different. There is so much to see and do, why would you want to be in only one city or in a vehicle the whole time? Spice Roads if a tour company that specializes in giving tours around the world on bike. The tours range from a single day or a couple of months! It all just depends on what you can do. 
It would be almost impossible for me to choose one specific route for Thailand but if I had to choose one it'd probably be the River of the Kings Bike Tour. "The River of Kings Ride through Thailand exposes you to the kingdom’s ancient history and colorful culture. From Chiang Mai, the capital of north Thailand, we cycle through the Chao Phraya river valley where Thai civilization began and visit the ancient cities of Lampang, Sukhothai, Khampeng Phetand Ayutthaya. The route follows quiet back roads where you will be amazed at how little traffic is encountered. Cycling takes you off the beaten track to the lesser known towns of Pa Mok and Uthai Thani, where you will definitely find the “land of smiles." The scenery is ever changing as it starts in the mountainous north, then continues through the emerald paddy fields of the central rice belt and then to the rugged jungles of Kanchanaburi before arriving in the vibrant metropolis of Bangkok." Doesn't that sound just completely incredible!?
Another one of the attractions for me to Thailand is their temples. There are so many wonderful temples it would be impossible to visit them all.  There are 40,717 Buddhist temples currently in Thailand. This temple is Wat Pho, home to Thailand's biggest reclining Buddha statue. The soles of the 46-meter-long statue's feet are inlaid with mother-of-pearl, depicting the 108 auspicious signs of the Buddha, while the statue itself is covered in gold leaf!
The beaches! Don't forget the beaches! Thailand has some of the best beaches in the world, 
I think the photos speak for themselves. 
Thailand is an adventures dream! Hiking, diving, cycling, mountains, oceans, islands, city, country, there is a little bit of everything to be offered there. Maybe that's why I am so drawn to it!
The downside to visiting Thailand is the airfare. It'll set you back about a grand! Once you get there however, you can live like a King for very little. One US dollar is equal to 32.37 Baht. To give you an idea of how well a beer will put you back about 45 Baht! You can stay in a four star hotel for as little as $16 a night or a five star for $45 a night... hmm sound rough, right?
Happy travels!
(P.s. Thailand hosts dozens of Marathons every year, maybe just another reason to visit!)