November 24, 2013 - An escape from the European cold was very welcome. After an excellent family visit, I was more than happy to be back in Thailand. I decided to bypass Bangkok altogether this time and flew from Bangkok directly to Chiang Mai.
First order of business was to rescue my bike from Marc's wood factory. Aside from a liberal sprinkling of sawdust, it was untouched. I was convinced I'd washed it before I parked it, but I was clearly wrong. It took me hours spread over two days to get the thing clean.
November 2013 is the month during which the Loy Krathong and Yi Peng festivals are celebrated all over Thailand. There are events all over the place during the space of a week or ten days, depending on where you are. The main event is the release of paper hot air balloons at the Mae Jo meditation center near Chiang Mai, part of the Yi Peng celebration. Thousands of people gather to take part in a meditation practice (all of ten minutes) and write their wishes on a paper hot air balloon which is then set free. I was there four hours before the main event started, and it wasn't a moment too soon.
One of the most amazing experiences was the silence. During the meditation session, no one stirred or talked, no cell phones were heard and my camera shutter clattered with such deafening noise I refrained from taking pictures.
After a demonstration on how to fill your balloon without setting it alight, people got ready. Lots of balloons left early and throughout the night, the sky was filled with burning dots, as can be seen below.
At the signal, balloons are released and it creates a truly amazing sight. Pictures don't do it justice. Of all the things I've seen in the last two years, this event ranks in the top five.
Since it is a lantern festival after all, there is no shortage of colorful decoration throughout Chiang Mai.
There are also a number of parades throughout the city during the week.
The Loy Krathong festival focusing on releasing past sins and bad events down the river, literally, using banana leaf floats. Most contain flowers, incense, some cash and often strands of hair and fingernail clippings. All part of the "new beginning" idea for a new year.
Speaking of new beginnings...
This picture will be familiar to some of you and it means the motorcycle part of your trip is over.
Riding around the world has ceased to be more fun than other alternatives, at which point you change tack. I'd noticed that since I started riding, fourteen years ago, the longest ever stretch of no recorded monthly kilometers was from August till November of this year. Clearly riding around the world was not as much fun as traveling around with Christina the last few months. On top of that, I had been playing with the idea of returning to Vancouver and when I heard my previous place was vacant again, I jumped at the chance. Since I've been renting that apartment as of October, I figured it was about time to put some furniture in it and make use of it again. Not for long though, as I am leaving for Germany in January to be reunited with Christina. We'll see from there, but spending time in Bonn, Vancouver and Chiang Mai in equal parts throughout the year sounds pretty good to us.
As to this ride report:
Thanks for reading folks. If you have any questions, fire away ....