23 Nov Our new riding buddy arrives; about Loi Krathong and hanging out on Phuket
Simon assured us, that since we moved from our original hotel to his place, which happens to be about a mile away from the airport, it would be no problem to get a ride from him to and from the airport to pick up Jessica.
We however, decide to walk to the airport and then call for the pick up once Jessica makes it through the long line of passport control.
Apparently, it is not very common for people to walk around here, because the staff at the hotel and Simon keep telling us that it is OK to take the free ride. Not to mention, we encounter some strange looks and lots of smiles and waves while walking up the road to the airport.
To wait for Jessica inside the terminal, we have to go through security right at the entrance to the airport. Our backpack gets x-rayed, then we stand and wait for Jessica to make it through passport control and baggage claim.
Finally, we see the girl with the big smile and a huge bike-box and a bag come through the glass doors. She finally arrived after spending 2 days traveling from Florida to Thailand…and she is eager to get some rest.
We call for the pick up, the van arrives, we squeeze the box, bags, 3 passengers and the driver in the tiny van that has only room for 2 passengers and head to our room.
Although, Jessica has been on the go for over 2 days straight, she is eager to go find an ATM and lunch, before retiring for the day. She even manages to put her bike back together, before finally passing out at the end of the day.
The following morning, we finish up the rest of our German chocolate cookies for breakfast…they are melting fast in the Thailand heat.
Simon told us the night before that tonight is Loi Krathong–the festival of lights.
This is when people in Thailand send candles on little floats made of bamboo or banana leafs, which are beautifully decorated with flowers into the water by the beach.
After finishing up our coffee and melted cookies we decide to walk over to the national park to check out the beach area, where the festival was supposed to take place. Unfortunately, we forget to bring bathing suits. So after walking along the entire length of the park and looking at the beautiful water and gorgeous coconut palms, we decide to head back to the room to cool off and to have lunch, before returning later in the day for the festival.
In the afternoon we return, equipped with camera and bathing suits. We sit around the beach and enjoy the gorgeous scenery. Most of all, we love being back in warm, sunny weather again and we can’t stop smiling about how wonderful and laid-back everything seems to be around here. Nobody is hassling us to buy anything. Everybody around us is smiling and having a good time. Food is tasty, a great bargain, and just about anywhere to find. We are already falling in love with Thailand and we have not even spent 2 full days here.
As it is getting later in the day, we see little stands pop up selling the floats for Loi Krathong. Not sure, where the floats will be sent off into the ocean we ride our bikes up and down the park street several times, but are unable to make out where the festival is about to take place. Tired of riding back and forth aimlessly in the dark, we decide to stop at a vendor selling banana pancakes, just because it sounds interesting and tasty. That’s when a man asks us about buying one of the floats to release into the ocean. We kindly decline on the buy but ask him where to go. That’s when we find out that people have been sending off their little floats all along in peace and quiet throughout the evening. We decide to take our pancakes and sit by the beach, where we watch a family release their little basket into the waves.
The children are watching patiently, while Dad is trying to light the candle in the little flowery basket. Carefully, they walk the little float to the water, shielding the little flame from the wind. They take a few steps into the water, and set the float down; and within seconds, the little candle is extinguished by the waves crushing into the beach.
The festival turns out to be quite different from what we have imagined.
It is not a big flashy, festival of lights, but a quiet solemn ritual for families sending off small candle floats for good luck.
We watch quietly as the sea returns the float to the beach then we head back to the room in the dark.
It was a great day in Thailand.