Here's a quick explanation of the holiday. It's celebrated throughout Thailand and in certain parts of Laos and Myanmar. Loi Krathong literally translates to floating crown and is signified by floating decorations that are lit with a candle and released en masse into a body of water. It symbolizes all the bad things floating out of your life, and the light is supposed to honor Buddha. The floating concept can also applies to a similar holiday called Yi Peng. This particular celebration hails from Laos, but today is most famously celebrated in Chiang Mai, where large numbers of floating lanterns are released into the sky. Though these are actually two totally different holidays, Chiang Mai today celebrates them together on the date of Loi Krathong. These floating lanterns can be seen throughout Thailand as well (we had previously launched one from the beach in Koh Lanta).
This is where most of the Koh Samui locals go to celebrate Loi Krathong and launch their decorative floating crowns. As you approach the lake, the streets are lined with people selling hand-made Krathongs. We picked our our favorite so we'd have one to launch!
With the help of one of the locals, we lit our Krathong's candle and incense and then launched it into the lake, making a wish for continued happiness in our lives.
You may have heard of the legendary Full Moon parties at Koh Phangon, and island located right next to Koh Samui. It is supposedly the biggest all-night beach party in the world and a must for backpackers. Typically I avoid massive crowds of drunk 20-somethings, especially those drinking rum or whisky out of children's plastic beach pales. However, since this was a famous party we decided to take a boat over to the island to check it out for a couple of hours and see if it lived up to it's reputation.
Our hotel advertised a transfer that would pick us up and bring us to a speedboat which would take us to and from the party beach. Then we'd have to pay a 100 baht entrance fee for the party, which mainly goes toward clean-up the next morning (this includes scraping drunk kids off the beach so they don't drown when the tide rolls in). It was a rainy night with occasional thunderstorms, so we were a little bit on the fence about going but decided to have them pick us up at 10pm. By 11pm we were still at our hotel, waiting for the transfer. The hotel had no idea where they were. At 11:30pm we decided to call it a night and fell asleep. We still don't know if they ever came by to pick us up. Oh well.
It was an anti-climatic night and we regret not getting to go... a little. I have a feeling we would have been entertained for a little while by the crowd, but would have soon started to worry about so many people doing stupid things - swimming in the ocean during a lightning storm (someone did this in Koh Lanta), drowning, cutting their feet on glass hidden in the sand and who knows what else.
This capped off our Thai adventure and two days later we headed back across the Pacific for our next few stops...stay tuned!