Loi Khrathong 2008

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:

P1110698 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.

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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.

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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:

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Above, the Peninsula Hotel and the riverfront are blinded by a pair of explosions.  Below, the barge in front of the Shangri-La Hotel.

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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.

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Below, about to launch the krathong.  Don’t fall into the Chao Phraya River!

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It was a very fun evening and, I hope, a memorable one for Trish.