Once a year, the people of Thailand celebrate Yi Peng with festivals, most famously of which is a festival of floating lights. We just so happened to be in Thailand during this event. Seriously, we had never heard of the festival and we definitely didn’t know what time of year it would occur, or that Chiang Mai was the best place for taking part in it.
During this vacation, we stayed at a home located out in an agricultural village, situated in a mountain valley well outside the city center of Chiang Mai. On the days when we would go into the city, Nick, a young man from the village, would chauffeur us wherever we wanted to go. His English wasn’t the greatest, but it was much better than our Thai, and we generally understood each other. On our second or third day with Nick, he began talking about the “fire balloon” festival. Details would emerge here and there, enough so that we decided we wanted to go. So Nick took us, but he did so much more than just drive us to the site. He prepped us earlier in the day by taking us to a market to purchase lanterns. He got us there in plenty of time to take in the street vendors and the various festivities before finding an ideal location to observe the main event, a timed release of thousands of floating lights. He helped hold Isla and Asher when the crowds became tight. He helped me figure out Thai tea with gelatin. He showed us how to properly light our lanterns. He took pictures. Thanks to Nick, the Yi Peng festival may have been the most memorable part of our trip.
From what I’ve since gathered during brief research, Yi Peng is a Buddhist holiday to release negativity and welcome good fortune. Being there, surrounded by so much beauty, we certainly felt fortunate.