So I’m a little late to the party, we’re already 13 days into 2019, but better late than never right?
Right now I’m in Chiang Mai Thailand. Whilst it was tempting to stay back home in the UK for New Year’s Eve, I knew 2019 needed to start in a new place, with a brand new perspective.
And what could be more of a contrast from my small English town than South East Asia!
I arrived in Thailand on December 28th. After a couple of days in Bangkok and a super short flight up to Chiang Mai, New Year’s Eve had rolled around.
Chiang Mai is known for a great New Year’s celebration, the most popular of which is the lantern festival and fireworks from Tha Pae Gate (Found a great post about this from The Shooting Star blog).
This celebration sounded great, but I wanted something a little more chilled out. Other travellers had told me that you could join the monks at the Wat Phantao temple, located right next to Wat Chedi Luang. This sounded perfect!
After delicious Pad Thai at Vegan Heaven 2 (Highly recommend!) I headed into the heart of old town Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai on New Years, like most of the time, actually seemed super relaxed. There were crowds gathering near the Three Kings monument and market stalls along all the way along Prapokkloa road. But it was still less busy than the Sunday night markets I’ve been to here.
I worked my way along the stalls, grabbing some street food, before getting to the gate of Wat Phan Tao about 10:30 pm.
Now, for most New Year celebrations you need to arrive hours before to get a seat or good spot in the crowd, but at the temple, the monks began their ceremony around 10:30, and many people only stayed for a short while, probably on their way to Tha Pae Gate. People would leave and others would take their place, and by 11 I’d got a great seat to enjoy the meditative chanting.
With candles and lanterns everywhere, this really was a special celebration and a great chance to reflect on the year just past.
The ceremony was in Thai, so I wasn’t totally sure what was happening to be completely honest!
I took one quick photo (see above) of the monks, mostly for the memory. But in front of me was a sea of cameras and iPhones, snapping and recording the whole time. It seemed so wrong! I wonder what this celebration looked like 15 years ago? Probably a lot more peaceful!
When midnight arrived the city sky was filled with paper lanterns and fireworks. The monks had finished chanting and I headed out of the temple grounds and back through the old town. Of course, this journey required some delicious mango sticky rice!
This is a pretty short post. I didn’t do the lanterns or see Tha Pae gate like many go to Chiang Mai for at New Years. But you know what, I was me. I said yes to the things I enjoy, not what I felt I should do. It was the best New Years yet!
If you’re interested in spending December 31st in Chiang Mai and want some more info, leave a comment below!