Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy New Year from Chiang Mai

In April of 2011, we celebrated Thai New Year in Chiang Mai, called Songkran. You can read about that by clicking here. In December, we celebrated the International New Year in Chiang Mai as well!

We began our evening with a buffet dinner at the hotel we were staying in. This gave us a chance to wear some of the things we bought on our vacation. Jennifer and I love the textiles in Southeast Asia, and we expecially love the styles and prices in Thailand! Jennifer bought her dress from the night market in Phuket and got her jacket from a small boutique in Chaing Mai. I sourced my shirt from a street vendor, and Craig's pants were embellished with a hand-painted tiger in from the Bosan villiage we visited earlier.

After dinner we headed to the place where all the action always happens in Chaing Mai - the Tha Phae gates at the eastern end of the old town.

The area was crowded with people from all around the world waiting to countdown to 2012. Here is a long line of food vendors cooking up delicious Thai treats!

When we got there we realized that the Thai's were sending off the famous "northern lights", which are beautiful rice paper lanterns floating in the air like hot air balloons!

Thousands of these lanters were being sent off by the crowd that had gathered along the banks of the Chaing Mai moat.

The lanterns would float high up into the sky, swirling around on various currents of wind and forming a sort of milky way in the night sky.

We found a entrepreneuring individual who was selling northern lights to those who were unprepared (like us). So, we bought a few. Actually, we bought them two at a time, and ended up sending off 10 or so...

The proper way to send off a lantern is to hold it near the ground after it's lit. This helps build up a lot of hot air inside the rice paper balloon.

After a minute or so, it will naturall float to about hip-level. This is where the unexperienced prematurely let the lantern go. These lanterns would only rise a few feet, then come back down to earth (and sometimes lighting the hair of unsuspecting spectators on fire). Good thing for us I had experience with these from my Uncle Jeff, who lights one lantern off every year in December, so we didn't let any lanterns go too early.

After enough hot air has built up, the lantern will start to tug upwards. Then, you simply let it fly!

As you let your lantern go, you're supposed to make a wish - just like when you blow out the candles on your birthday cake.

Craig wouldn't tell me what he wished for, but Jennifer and I were both wishing we get to stay and experience more cool things like this in Asia!

At midnight, the sky was a blaze with rising lanterns and fireworks!

We had a wonderful new year in Chiang Mai! We love the little town, and they love us back! Happy New Year to everyone!

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