A young novice that I met through Big Brother Mouse told me the upcoming Awk Phansa (end of Lent) was his favorite festival of the year. He told me how each temple made a float and how beautiful the lantern adorned wats were the night of the festival. I am glad I met him and took his advice to stay in town for the festival. I also convinced Tee to endure a 21 hour bus ride to make it in time to join the festivities. We were not disappointed.
One day after lunch we walked by the boat pier at the end of the peninsula. Across the Mekong we saw the Bun Nam boat races underway and a huge party on the other shore so we sat down in the shade to watch. A private boat was about to leave the pier and we had just enough money so we hopped on board. We motored across the river and spent a few hours watching the boat races, with our new friends, a couple from California and later a German gal, drinking beer (supplied by the captain who just wanted to get across the river to party with his friends), and chatting with locals who were celebrating race victories as well as the end of Buddhist Lent.
|Enjoying a beautiful day on the Mekong River|
|Drinking iced beer in the village across the river|
|We visited the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre and made krathong to float in the river|
|In the days before the festival we watched floats being built and decorations being hung at each of the temples around town.|
|Oops, this video isn’t quite right, but it was too beautiful to edit|
|The small lights in the top left corner are lanterns|
|Energy drink bottles filled with diesel.|
|Letting our lantern fill with hot air before sending it off into the night sky.|
|It was fun watching other groups work together to release their lanterns|
|These floats were rolled down the street, hoisted up the steps into the courtyard of Wat Xieng Thong, then carried down 2 sets of steep steps before being released into the Mekong River.|
|Tail of the naga (dragon) before it slipped into the river.|
|The temples were lit up for several days at the end of Buddhist Lent.|