I was really drawn back to Chiang Mai for the 10th of November for a number of reasons. The Lantern Festival was going to be on that day. It would be a full moon and most importantly my younger brother Stuart would turn 25 years old! I saw this as the perfect timing of events for an amazing day and night for him. We started celebrating at midnight on the night before with me conducting happy birthday sung in English, Dutch, Welsh, French and Japanese. All but the last language was covered by our fellow travellers and I wrangled a passing group of Japanese tourists just for the fun of it! The photo above was taken in the carnival which we had a lot of fun in after setting off our lanterns and floating blessings in the form of a turtle made from bread down the river! I found a handmade card that said “We love you to the moon and back!” which I felt was very apt and we had our first crazy tuk tuk ride (6 lads squeezed in on top of each other whizzing through the streets of Chiang Mai towards the Rooftop Bar). It was a lot of fun to say the least and I think we succeeded in giving Stu an unforgettable 25th birthday party. The portrait above was unwilling at the time but since then Stu has grown to love it! I think it captures my wonderful younger brother perfectly!
I took quite a few photos on this night but this is definitely one of my favourites. It was taken by the moat side. Chiang Mai is surrounded by a square moat which has been there for hundreds of years to protect the city from invasion. This boy seems so lost in thought. The moon and the river have great meaning during these festivals. As the full moon comes, people celebrate with fireworks and by floating things down the river to send away “bad spirit” in layman’s terms. I think this image encapsulates how every adult and child in the city takes the time to contemplate their spirituality on these occasions before the dawn of the new lunar month.