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Monday, November 26, 2012

Yee Peng Floating Lantern Festival


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“Do you believe that someday it wouldn’t feel like this anymore?” My good friend, Paul, asked me the other night as we were drinking in one of the reggae bars in Chiang Mai’s old town. 

“Honestly, I don’t know. I just hope, at the end of every single day that passes by, that tomorrow it will be better.” 

One day in Chiang Mai spent riding around the old town, we passed by places familiar and so nostalgic. Memories of the places we walked by, benches we sat on, and feelings from the last time I was here. I let my guard down, and just gave in to my emotions. 

It felt refreshing to talk to a good friend about this, someone who knows me well. And how, somehow, I felt understood because he’s also a traveller. 

I’m here again, back on the road, because I want to make new memories. Travel doesn’t necessarily fix anything, but I just hope to find myself again, or at least me at my best, doing what I love most. 

Luckily, the Yee Peng Floating Lantern Festival this year was moved to this weekend before my flight to Burma next week. I’ve heard so much about this festival, seen beautiful photos and videos. Floating lighted paper lanterns in the night sky, as Buddhists send away their worries, problems and pray for forgiveness. 

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We first met up with Paul’s friends, his fellow expats in Chiang Mai. We then rode our motorbikes and made our way to the festival. The field was already crowded when we arrived just as the sun was about to set. After more than an hour of religious ceremony, the light towers were turned off. Everyone was instructed to light the mounts of candles nearby. The field started to look magical and people were starting to get excited to light up their lanterns. 

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After a few more minutes, people started to release their lanterns. And it was so beautiful, magical, and surreal. No photo and video can fully capture that moment when the sky lit up with these glowing and floating lanterns. I was simply mesmerized.

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Then it was time to light our own lantern. I prayed for healing and a better 2013 not just for me, but also for my superfriends. I looked out into the beautiful night sky and realized that today was indeed better, wonderful.

It's been six months, and tonight at this very moment I was surrounded by people hopeful and I was looking at one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen in my life. And I felt thankful for all that has happened. If not for them, I would not have been here. I wouldn’t have experienced this beautiful and magical moment.