Yee Peng Festival in Sansai
Festive air for a night of worship
Text by Marion Vogt
Photos by Michael Vogt
Yee Peng 2003 brought the first really cool evenings,
while the Ping River was filled to overflowing with little krathong boats.
For newcomers it is a festival which cannot be missed and which has to be
experienced, getting your own krathong, letting it float, watching the
fireworks and watching out not to get run over by motorbikes or cars. For
families with children, no matter what nationality, it will always be a
festival to sit by the river, watch Nang Noppamas contests, maybe even
letting your little girls take part in the contest.
visitors were welcomed by hundreds of dancers performing a traditional
candle dance, which set the mood for the evening.
But what if you have had it all - you have experienced
Yee Peng many times? What is there for you? If you are lucky and live in
Chiang Mai, there is something else, unknown to many, but an experience
which you will never forget.
We had such a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience this
year when we went with a group of international friends to the Buddhist
meditation center, Tu Dong Ka Sathaan Lanna, near Mae Jo Agriculture
University in Sansai, just 10 minutes from the center of Chiang Mai.
krathongs flanked the stage.
Every year during the night of the full moon in November,
the land in front of the meditation center is transformed into a meeting
space for 20,000 festively dressed people, made up of dignitaries from the
region, students from Mae Jo University, visitors, residents and the young
and the old - everyone who knew of this secret place. When the portals
opened, a procession of beautiful northern girls led everyone in with a
Poobej Chana Pinyo gave the lecture and introduction to meditation.
The open stage was so spectacular that everyone in our
small group was speechless. Imagine a semi-circular stage set with 100 monks
in orange robes leading up to a huge illuminated statue of the Lord Buddha,
as the full moon slowly rises behind the setting.
One of the VIPs lit the first candle and then the head
monk, the venerable Pra Poobej Chana Pinyo started to speak. His melodic,
gentle voice made all foreigners feel as if they could understand him. He
even said some words in English for the handful of expats, suggesting gently
to repeat silently to ourselves that we want peace and love.
mesmerizing scene, looking at thousands and thousands of illuminated candles
from the stage.
At 8 p.m., hundreds of students dressed in white, the
monks in orange, the northern Thai girls, and the dignitaries carrying
lighted candles moved in a silent procession, while hundreds of volunteers
were busy handing out kom loys (hot air balloons) to everyone. The venerable
monk’s voice was heard praying for all sins and bad luck to be sent with
the lantern up into the sky.
Then at a sign, everyone with kom loys lit the special
candlewick to fill the balloon with hot air. When the next signal was given,
the kom loys were simultaneously released and the sky became a sea of
illuminated balloons drifting off into infinity, taking with them all our
sins and bad thoughts.
At least 3000 hot air balloons, some trailing sparkling flames, sweeping
off into darkness, were a magical sight in our materialistic earthly world.
It was a memorable experience which will not easy be forgotten. If you have
not experienced Yee Peng in Sansai you should look for it next year, just
move away from the tourist tracks.
Yi Peng celebrated with light and sound
Chiang Mai’s Yi Peng (Loy Krathong) Festival drew tens
of thousands of Thai and foreign visitors. One major attraction was the
Light and Sound presentation about the pandas in the front of the Chiang Mai
municipal building. This was similar to the much vaunted show that was seen
during the APEC meeting in Bangkok and covered the Lanna cultural heritage
of the Loy Krathong Festival.
To present new experiences for the festive crowds, Lanna
Folk Music was played during some colorful performances by local students
and hill tribes held around the Chiang Mai governor’s residence near
As always the Miss Nang Noppamas beauty contest was held
at Thapae Gate, but this year there was also a special candlelight market to
introduce visitors to some authentic Lanna food and display the ways folk
people live. In addition, there were Buddhist rites at Wat Lok Mo Lee to
provide some opportunities for local residents and visitors to show their
respect to the Buddha relics brought from Sri Lanka.
beautiful Nang Noppamas surveys all in front of her on this magical night.
candlelight marchers were a sight to behold at the parade.
dressed in traditional costumes, these dancers performed to perfection.
beautiful Miss Nang Noppamas and her escort were part of the grand parade.
mesmerizing scene, looking at thousands and thousands of illuminated candles
from the stage.
Kad Suan Kaew celebrates 12th anniversary with classical play
Kad Suan Kaew Shopping Complex annual propitiation rite
was held on November 8 to celebrate its 12th anniversary and ask for
business prosperity. This year, Kad Suan Kaew promoted the classical play
Rajathiraj Part Saming Phra Rama Asa presented by the Fine Arts Department,
Bangkok. It is a musical comedy with the music played by a Thai orchestra.
Rajathiraj Part Saming Phra Rama Asa is about the importance of tactical
fighting in war using brain in the battlefield. The principal players were
national actors Ajarn Seree Wangnaitham, Ajarn Supachai Jantasuwan, Ajarn
Pakorn Pornpisuth, Ajarn Wanthanee Muagbon, Ajarn Jullachart Arannak, Ajarn
Duanreudee Thapornrasee and the comedy team from the Fine Arts Department,
of Angwa City is ready to fight in the battlefield with his elephant.
Phra Rama (acted by Supachai Jantasuwan) uses excellent fighting artistry to
battle his enemy.
Seree Wangnaitham acting as a warder inmate.
Night Bazaar - the nightlife of Chiang Mai
Natchawi Srirat and Phornphimon Thimsat
Have you ever wondered how the Night Bazaar was set up?
The story began more than 20 years ago on Changklan Road. In those days many
tourists came to Chiang Mai, and as a result, many hilltribe peoples came to
Changklan Road to sell their souvenirs to the tourists.
As the area’s popularity grew, the local people came as
well to sell their goods. Eventually the numbers grew until there were
hundreds of vendors every night. This was how Changklan Road became the
Chiang Mai Pavilion has many handicraft boutiques.
Initially there were no stalls, the vendors just put a
piece of cloth or mat on the ground and spread out their wares on the
sidewalk. There was no electric lighting so they used candles for
illumination. However, all that has changed and the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
today has become the largest nightlife center in Chiang Mai.
Night Bazaar began more than 20 years ago on Changklan Road when many
hilltribe peoples came to Changklan Road to sell their souvenirs to the
There are approximately 850 vendors’ stands in the
Night Bazaar, making it probably the largest center for selling Northern
Thailand handicrafts. A good place to shop if you are pressed for time - the
selection is astounding!
Handicraft shopping, especially for hilltribe products,
is excellent in the Nakhorn Ping Night Bazaar Building (don’t forget to
visit the artists in the basement level) and the Kalare Food and Shopping
Center, which offers an open-air dining terrace with many types of food,
shows free classical dancing performances and Thai boxing from 7 p.m. to
10.30 p.m. There are even more handicrafts and hilltribe goods in authentic
traditional styles in the Anusarn Market Bazaar.
many years, working artists have been a big attraction at the Night Bazaar.
The air-conditioned Chiang Inn Plaza (11 a.m. - 11 p.m.)
and Chiang Mai Pavilion buildings have many handicraft boutiques. The Chiang
Inn Plaza has several good restaurants on the basement floor, as well as
Western fast-food outlets. The Sor Karn Kha (12 noon - 11 p.m.) opposite is
a fixed-price Thai Department store for clothing and there is a small
supermarket at the back.
Remember that in Thailand, anyone who loves shopping must
enjoy a good haggle, as bargaining is the norm.
of vendors sell their wares every night at the Night Bazaar on Changklan
There are government plans to improve the Night Bazaar to
make it the greatest nightlife center in Thailand. “In the future, we plan
to improve all the stands in the Night Bazaar to have the same look and
quality. The cleanness and organization of the Night Bazaar are the priority
goals. We want Chiang Mai Night Bazaar to be one of the most famous tourist
attractions in Chiang Mai,” said one municipality official.
Thai handicrafts are made on the spot.
So what do the tourists think about the Night Bazaar? We
took some random opinions and received answers such as these, “I think I
like the atmosphere of the Night Bazaar, it is quite relaxing. There are
thousands of products in the Night Bazaar to buy. I like to have more
options. People here are nice and friendly but sometime I think they sell
the products at a high price. I have heard that bargaining is a must for
tourists to do in the Night Bazaar. Actually, bargaining is fun for me
because in my country you cannot bargain so this is a new experience. About
the vendor stands, they are too crowded and too close to each other so there
is no way to walk through. Maybe someone should do something with the
walkway area leaving more space between stand and shop to improve this
area,” was an opinion from an American tourist.
However, the municipality, in all its zeal for organization should not
lose sight of the fact that tourists have come here to get away from the
orderly ‘sameness’ of the shopping malls in their home countries. Let us
not lose the mysticism of the East!