Monday, December 31, 2012

Back in Thailand - My travels to Bangkok, tour of Amphawa and Loy Krathong

Amphawa - Men lanternsMijo and I were back in Thailand in the later part of November because we got an invite from one of our friends in San Francisco to come visit them in Amphawa and Loy Krathong or Festival of Lights. I've never seen anything like it. Mijo and I had so much fun. 

Follow me on my tour of Amphawa and the celebration of Festival of Lights or more known as Loy Krathong...

Bangkok - Skyline
We stayed in Bangkok for a couple of days before we headed west to Amphawa. We've been to Bangkok before and we did the touristy stuff like touring the cities' manificent temples, the grand Chau Phraya river, and bargain hunt on the city's shopping district. This time, we wanted to experience the Urban Bangkok.  Here is a view of a part of the city from the Baiyoke Sky Hotel's observation deck.

Bangkok - Skyline night
Here is another view of the same part of the city at night. Earlier that evening, I had drinks with my former roommate at the Baiyoke Sky Bar on the tower's 83rd floor. He and I and another roomie used to live in San Francisco's Richmond district. But he now works in Bangkok. I am so glad we were able to catch up!

Bangkok - Movie shoot
While stopping for a coffee break, we chanced upon this movie (or tv) shoot at the Siam Discovery mall. I forgot the name of the Thai actor and actress in this picture. Can anyone tell me?

Bangkok - Art and Culture Center
While in Bangkok, we managed to go to the Bangkok Arts and Cultural Center next to the Siam Discovery. Our hotel, Baiyoke Sky Hotel, has a free shuttle that takes guests from the hotel to Siam Square and back. It was great to see the modern and urban side of Bangkok this time around.

Amphawa - Krathongs
Amphawa, is a river town west of Bangkok  is a little over an hour's drive from the city. Our hosts A&M hired a van to pick us and a few more friends in Bangkok. In the picture above, beautiful Krathongs are being readied for the night's festivities. The picture was taken at our hosts' beautiful Thai river house.

Amphawa - Krathong
The Krathongs upclose. Aren't they one of the most beautiful things? It is a pity they will be burned later on. 

Amphawa - Getting on the boats
Here, we are getting ready for a tour of Amphawa. Our hosts hired two boats to haul us around the network of rivers surrounding Amphawa. The plan was to get to the main river, pass by the floating markets, eat dinner, trudge the river while witnessing Loy Krathong, back to A&M's house, light the krathongs and lanterns and then hang out some more.

Amphawa - River tour
There is something soothing at the same time magical about this river tour. It must be the sound of the water against the boat? It must be the champagne I was sipping? :)

Amphawa - Temple
Majestic houses, temples, tropical trees and smiling locals were the usual scenes we came across during the river tour.

Amphawa - Other boats
We finally reached the floating markets of Amphawa. The Loy Krathong festivities fell during the week. Unfortunately, the floating market is open only during the weekend but there are some stores that open for business even during the week. 

Amphawa - Going to eat
We finally reached the restaurant. I couldn't remember the name of this restaurant so pardon me for that.  What I do remember is that we were so hungry and I was already getting buzzed from the champagnes.

Amphawa - Restaurant
The restaurant is so picturesque and elegant looking. By this time, we were so excited to sample the sumptious dinner.

Amphawa - Food
And the food was very tasty and not to mention very spicy, as in hot spicy. Our hosts ordered different dishes some of which I had for the first time that night.

Amphawa - Leaving Restaurant
After the sumptous meal, we headed back to the boats for the main Loy Krathong festivities.

Amphawa - Family lantern
On the shores of the river, we saw this family lighting their lanterns. I was told that the Loy Krathong festival is to give thanks to the rivers and waters.

Amphawa - Man river light
Some of the Krathongs can be very simple like this one. Compared to the more lavish ones, I found out that those with less adornments are the ones that easily float and they stay lit until the flame consumes them.

Amphawa - River lights
We found millions of Krathongs on the way back to our hosts house. It is as if the stars were floating on water. It is a sight to behold! I've never seen anything like it.

Amphawa - Family river lights
We also saw this family on a boat lighting their krathongs. It is such a refreshing scene to see families and friends together for this festival.

Amphawa - Man river lantern
This man has a lit lantern and was waiting for it to float away. I would later discover that lanterns get so hot before it can float away.

Amphawa - Boats river lights
More krathongs on the river and more boats adorned with beautiful lights. We also saw lots of lanterns above us. Fireworks was also in the background.

Amphawa - Krathong lighting 
We finally made it to our hosts' place and it was our turn to light our Krathongs and lanterns. Seeing families light their Krathongs and let them floating on the river is one thing. Lighting them yourself is another thing.

Amphawa - Lantern lighting
I have so much to give thanks for. Here's my lantern for all the experiences, lessons learned, reminders, places travelled, food and wine sampled, material things, health, family and friends!


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