Editor’s Pick – Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai

Hi everyone. I returned to Melbourne after living off a backpack for 5 weeks. It has been an amazing journey, the kind you just couldn’t have enough of. As a modern digital photographer, I travelled with a bunch of memory cards and laptop, backing up and posting images as I went on. I already shared images from the first couple of weeks on my Facebook page and the travel blog, so if you are interested, please check them out.

Big Krathong Day parade

I wanted to share one of the images that I had a lot of fun photographing. It was taken during the Loy Krathong, or lantern festival, in Chiang Mai, Thailand. On the last day of the 3-night parades, it started to pour down. Earlier on, every group of parade participants had to have a group of men holding rope on either side to ensure people cannot step in too close. And they were really pushing people back. At some point I pretty much gave up taking photos because too many people were in my frame of view any way.

But the drizzle turned into a heavy, pouring rain half way into the parade around 9pm. All the people watching the parade found a cover under the closed (or open) shop fronts on either side of the street, or inside a temple. At Wat Bupparam where I was photographing all week (and I was actually staying the last night of my stay in the city at), monks and novices were gathered upstairs on the covered balcony of the school, or stuck under the temple gates created by Toi and the team of the young monks earlier in the week. I went back to ‘my room’ in the far corner of the temple, put on my wind jacket, cotton hat and found a small plastic bag from a meal earlier (they give you plastic bags for everything here in Thailand – even if you said no to the bag!). And I was out, spring in my steps, and stepped into the street where the parade went on just normally, at their slow pace, despite the heavy rain.

The girls are so used to the ‘drill’, and whenever the audience point their camera or iPad or whatever to photograph them, they would pause there and smile their gorgeous smile back to the photographer. I was slowly walking backwards, watching the scene inside the parade now, but when I pull my camera up to my face, the girls in the front would stop. I gesture with my left hand, ‘Thanks! but please, keep walking!’ Girls smile back and continue their paces. A few more backward steps and I got my shot. Throw my camera down (I got a shoulder strap that allows me to drop the camera dangling down) and put my hands together to thank them, or just a thumb up for some of them. With the aids with rolls of tissue paper helping wipe the water on their face in vain, the parade continued.

I was just fascinated by their dignity. I had a great time getting drenched, trying to keep my game up at their level.

Flickr kindly picked one such image on their Editor’s Pick for the Thailand Lantern Festival images. What an honour! At the point of writing, my image got a little over 8,300 views. I’m glad you appreciate the dignity and beauty I captured in that image!

A few other images from that evening… (more on my travel blog).

Big Krathong Day parade
Monks or not, boys are boys…

Big Krathong Day parade
Gorgeous girls in cosplay, a parade team representing a Japanese brand

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade
Another tissue, just to look ‘spotless’ perfect.

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

Big Krathong Day parade

rain-setup
Cotton hat is practically useless in the heavy rain, but enough to keep the drops out of my eyes. Jacket was wet inside out by the end of half-hour outing for me.

I had a cold shower in the dark ‘ensuite’, fighting off the cockroaches, put on the warm jumper and slept like a baby.