I thought I shall break the ‘Learning Thai’ chapters this once to blog about the recent Loy Krathong festivities in Wimbledon, England.
It’s a relatively small festival (to me anyways) and this usually takes place around here in mid-November. I was so hoping that it would NOT rain as it tends to do so every year which makes it less enjoyable because everything’s wet. Instead of looking upwards, one would be looking at their feet as they walk, so as to not get mud everywhere. I was hoping for that not to happen this time. Luckily, it didn’t rain but it was very cold and everyone was wrapped up in their winter gear.
It was just my mom and me traveling there. Usually, by the time you get closer to Putney, we’d take the next 93 double-decker bus. You know you’re on the right bus when you start seeing only Thai faces everywhere. We have kind of gotten used to that sign, if there weren’t that many, we’d be worried we got on the wrong one. Usually for these events, we’d be there quite early but this time, we had stopped off at the local Thai market store to get a few things so we arrived a little after noon.
The temple grounds are decorated nicely with Thai national flags and Buddha statues being placed outside to have holy water poured on them and prayers being made.
There is a little market at the end of the grounds where they sell imported magazines, noodles, vegetables and so on. Some, if not most of it, was brought from the Thai stores to be sold at the temple. Then there are jewelry and art stands around as well.
At this time, it was not as packed yet as most other people would arrive later in the afternoon. This isn’t such a good idea if you intend to buy lots of things because those who want something specifically must go early. Some of the food we wanted to buy had already been sold out! And strangely, there were perhaps three food stands missing this year as well as selling muffins and some non-Thai food. I don’t think I saw this last time.
There were stands in front of the temple that sold gift offerings and krathongs to be placed in the local pond further down near the monastery house. My mom decided she wanted to ‘tam boon’ now and bought a gift basket and neatly packed robes as offerings. I intended to wait outside because it was a bit hassling to take off my shoes and carry our bags inside but to my surprise, my mom insisted I come because she wanted me to do it with her. So I did.
It was a little packed inside, although it’s a shame I couldn’t take a picture of the inside, I’d have to say that the inside is really beautiful because of the large buddha and its decorations as well as the wall paintings, even for a small temple.
After that, it seemed kind of a relief to have ‘tam boon-ed’ and we went on to do make some wishes by placing money into the bowls with your day of birth in the week, evening or daytime. There was a large number of Farangs also, I could think they outnumber the Thais at these events.
We went to make some more blessings at the money tree and use the scented sticks. The lady there (to the left in the picture) she was really friendly with everybody and helping them around. She even came up to me, seeing as I was with my mom, and asked me if I พูดไทยได้ไหมค้า (can speak Thai?). อ่านิดหน่อยนะค่ะ (a little kaa) I answered and she laughed friendly-like probably happy because of my little effort, 55+. I know that the many times before, I probably had this ‘confused’ look on my face but nowadays at such events, people seem to be speaking Thai to me first or at least asking if I can. So I don’t know if my face says anything about that. But I think my speaking Thai seems to work a bit better each time.
Another examples was just after we stepped out of the temple, there were two Thai guys standing near where we left our shoes. I thought they were going to move but then they stood right in the way of them. So waiting 60 seconds to see what happens, I had to say ขอโทษนะค่ะ (accent pretty good here) and point to my shoes, because I didn’t know how to say ‘I need my shoes’ (yet). Thankfully they got the idea after my little charade of ‘point and guess what’. I think the one guy that stood in front me and answered ครับ (khrap – yes) said it in a way as if he thought I was going to talk to him… but sadly, no, ha ha *sweatdrop*.
The contestants age were between 14-24. There was some rather loud karaoke singing and look-thoong music playing in between. No rain meant the show could go on unlike the last two years that it had to be cancelled, unfortunately, due to wet weather.
Just after standing in a long queue and finishing off buying whatever else we thought we liked, we watched the mini-beauty pageant show announcements. After that, we decided it was time to go home. We did what we came to do and it went well. For me, there’s the Loy Krathong that came and went in 2005.