Patong is sort of already a non-stop carnaval, but there has also been a few special celebrations where they actually close off the main street to traffic and set up booths of food and drink all along the beach, along with entertainment, fireworks, and floating beach lanterns. In the video you can get a sense of the endless variety of Thai food available everywhere – the street food is the best. And it’s the reason I’m not quite yet at my goal weight (did I mention my big bones?).
The lanterns were one of my favorite things in Thailand — they were so unexpected. Dan and I were walking along in the center of Patong, and looked up to see a sky full of glowing orange lights. We had NO idea what they were, so we made our way over to the beach to explore. The lanterns are large paper domes, and you can light a hunk of wax in the middle to make them light and begin to float upwards like a hot air balloon. Locals sell the lanterns for 100-200 baht all along the beach. It’s beautiful to watch the lighting up close, but even more amazing as one by one, hundreds of glowing balloons are set from from the beach and float up into the stars.
After a few minutes of watching in awe at the beauty of the site, the American in me kicked into gear. Where do they land? Isn’t it a fire hazard? Can the locals find them when they fall and recoup their investment? What about lawsuits?
I really need to spend more time away from America.
It’s hard to capture the magic of these lanterns on film without a great camera.
You can also hear me yelling “shit!” every 3 minutes, because fireworks kept going off around me. I swear it was like they gave the fireworks to a bunch of blind kids with matches. No one is in charge, it’s just random giant fireworks exploding all around you — directly over your head, under you, behind you. We were literally jumping out of the way to not die a fiery death.
I was impressed to see hundreds of these lanterns floating at one time, but even more impressive is what happens during the major Thai festivals and celebrations in Thailand.
Below is a picture of a Tsunami remembrance celebration, with literally thousands of lanterns. The belief is that misfortune is carried away with the lanterns.
Can you imagine what this looks like from a passing plane?