Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What Goes Up

New Years Lanterns in Chiang Mai.

In recent years, sending lit lanterns into the skies, particularly at night, seem to be taking off to celebrate one thing or another.
Nowhere is it a bigger festival than New Years eve in Northern Thailand, and especially in Chiang Mai.
It's still pretty much an Asian phenomenon as it's meant to bring good fortune and luck to those sending up the lanterns.
We've spent New Years Eve four of the last nine years in Chiang Mai and every year it gets a little more festive.

When we first stumbled upon the lanterns being sent up into the skies, we couldn't help but wonder where they all ended-up. Visions of the countryside littered with spent lanterns immediately came to mind as we witnessed hundreds, perhaps thousands of lanterns filling the night skies.
It is an incredible sight though.

So this year, we decided to join the revelers and we each sent up a lantern.
The lanterns are made of bamboo frames wrapped with some sort of parchment paper. They're essentially hot air balloons. A waxy coil of paper is secured under the open end of the lantern and when lit, fills the lantern with hot air, propelling it skyward.

You wonder why the lanterns don't just burst into flames but for some reason they make their way up towards the sky without doing so. The most dangerous thing is the hot dripping wax falling on you as the lantern begins to ascend.

Surprisingly they don't burn up on re-entry. They seem pretty much intact as you find them littered throughout the city the next morning.

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