Sorry for the delay in entry. We are up in Burriram province right now, in the northeast of the country about six hours by car.
This evening is the cremation ceremony for His Majesty the King’s sister, Princess Galiana Vadhana, who passed away in January. The highly formal ceremony, with its roots in Brahminism and Buddhism, started yesterday. The entire nation is watching or, in many cases, participating.
Temples across the country are holding a simultaneous ceremony with monks at these temples leading chanting for the late princess. Subjects are placing sandalwood flowers in a replica of the royal pyre that will be lit this evening in Khrungthep’s Sanam Luang, the parade ground adjacent to the Grand Palace.
Everywhere we go, the televisions are playing pool coverage of the events. It is unlike anything the country has seen since the passing of his mother in 1995. Something that exceeds the grandeur of Princess Diana’s funeral in both scope and breadth.
I won’t write about it any more here but there are photos available here at 2bangkok.com.
Last Wednesday we celebrated Loi Krathong at Brent’s riverside house. I’ve written about this holiday before here and there’s additional information here, so won’t go into a lot of detail about it now.
Here’s a two-minute video of it:
We arrived to find that Phrae, the niece of Brent’s maid, was there in traditional Thai costume. Right, she introduces Matthew to Trish.
Matthew is an American who with his partner Sean, operate a jewelry design company called MCL Designs. They sell at Nieman-Marcus and Bloomingdales and, coincidentally, they may be in Kansas City on business soon. That’s where Trish lives, so perhaps they will have the opportunity to meet again there.
Matthew and Sean spoke extensively with Trish, examining her business model and offering suggestions and thoughts. It turned out to be a very useful evening for her. Can you write off a dinner party at someone else’s house?
Loi Krathong occurs on the twelfth full moon of the lunar year, which usually falls in the middle of November. I was able to get a nice picture of the State Tower with its golden dome shining beneath the full moon.
There was a nice group of people present and we had the opportunity to make some new acquaintances. From left to right, Brent, Matthew, Anne (a bag designer – she and Tawn had a lot to talk about!), Sean, Trish and Tawn. The Shangri-La Hotel stands in the background.
In addition to the fine pasta dinner we were treated to a splendid view of the fireworks. The Oriental, Peninsula and Shangi-La hotels coordinate a fireworks display, launched from three barges in the middle of the river. Because of our angle, my pictures didn’t get as full a view as I’d like, but you get the idea:
Above, the Peninsula Hotel and the riverfront are blinded by a pair of explosions. Below, the barge in front of the Shangri-La Hotel.
There was a lot of smoke blowing downriver, which I think makes photographing fireworks difficult.
Afterwards, we headed down to the river, took a short cruise on the Peninsula’s shuttle, then launched our krathong – the rafts filled with a candle, incense and flowers. Below, Trish, Phrae and Tawn light the candles and incense.
Below, about to launch the krathong. Don’t fall into the Chao Phraya River!
It was a very fun evening and, I hope, a memorable one for Trish.
I have a question: what is the reasoning behind waiting so long to cremate the Princess? Are royals usually cremated on this holiday?The krathongs are so neat. It must be cool to see them all in the water all together 🙂
Happy Loey Krathong Day!
The festival fireworks footage was very pretty. I enjoyed the cultural lesson -I’ll have to add this on my future travel wish list.
Another great photoessay, Chris!
@TheCheshireGrins – Good question. The holiday and the cremation are actually unrelated events; I just wrote about them at the same time because they fell so close together. I’m not sure of the specific reason for such a long wait, but it is very common for royals and other people of status to be cremated 100 days or more after their death. Most likely, the length of time was detemined by various auspicious indicies as well as the practical consideration of mid-November being dry and relatively cool.
I’ll ask Tawn and see if there is anything more to this.
@blue_beau – Thank you. You, too. Hope you and Ralph had a good celebration.
@RakkaRay – Thanks, Ray. Glad you enjoyed it.
@murisopsis – I’m glad you enjoyed it and hope you’ll add Thailand to your list of destinations.
Those rafts are so nice… I’ve always enjoyed the pictures of them floating in the river.
@christao408 – Okay, cool. Thanks for looking into it 🙂
I am always so amazed at the way you educate all of us. The pictures and the posts are singular in their information. I come away from your post, more educated and happier for seeing things from this far away.
Planning to go home in January, and am trying to get a ticket so I can return via Bangkok. Any suggestions? I want a cheap ticket in business class… does such an animal exist?
@ZSA_MD – Try EVA Airlines, a Taiwanese airline that flies from gateway cities like LA, SF, NY and Seattle. They have good prices for their business class flights. Also, although it won’t route you through Bangkok, some of the Middle Eastern carriers like Qatar and Ethiad offer lower fares.
You are so full of knowledge…teaching us about Thailand as well as giving us information about what airlines to use! Hopefully Ryan and I can make it out there some time in the near future.
@swcheng15 – We would love to see you both again. In the meantime, thank you for the updates on your remodel and we look forward to seeing it next month.
Happy Belated Loey Krathong! I do miss the ceremonial floating of the candles and the firworks at the Peninsula It was a pretty sight watching those candles floating away! (And not to get burned as well!)
@curry69curry – Thank you. Loi Krathong is such a pretty holiday. One of these years, I’m going to go up to the north, where instead of krathong, they sent large lanterns floating into the sky. Quite a sight.
@christao408 – Oh yes, I saw one of those laterns scenes from a Thai Airways magazine, that was a spectacular photo! Unforgettable!