Loy Kratong, or the "thanking of the mother of the waters", is essentially a harvest festival and the second most important event in the Thai Calendar. This year Loy Kratong is on Friday, 15th of November 2024.

To thank the waters for raining on the paddy fields and so producing a bountiful crop, each and every person places a little shrine made from banana leaves and decorated with flowers, incense and candles onto the surface of a river, lake or canal. As we live beside the Maekong river, the significance of water has greater meaning, and so our festival is pleasingly special.

The day begins with everyone making their own Kratong with pins and leaves, and candles and flowers. Our staff make them with the guests staying here... the ones Tia (our cook) and Bom Bam (her assistant) make are fabulous... the guests tend to make something... er, um... more unusual!

Pictured to the right is Ben, my eldest son, holding his Kratong just before launching it on the river.

The main focus of celebrations happens after dark at Wat Meechai Taa, on the river bank on the west side of the town. Rickety wooden steps are set up down the steep riverbank to a floating platform where everyone waits in turn to release their Kratong on the waters with a lucky wish for the coming year (see left). From here, thousands of candle lit Kratongs begin their journey, so making a long line of dancing lights bobbing past the town.

And in the temple precincts there are all kinds of activities: one can queue up for a blessing from the Monks; there is the "Soy Dao" or the "Star Thread" tree where children (and adults) use a stick to lift off numbered cotton threads hanging from each of its branches...

...each of these threads corresponds to a prize; "Mo Lam", the traditional Isan music, is sung by racy girls at high decibels; and finally there is the famous beauty contest which is an absolute riot!

he fact is that very few of the contestants were born female. They look absolutely stunning though in their long, brightly coloured, Isan evening dresses... even for those who have sharp eyesight, are male and believe themselves to be died in the wool heterosexual!