Loy Krathong and Search for Sak Yant
We arrived in Chiang Mai for Loy Krathong, which falls on the full moon of the 12th lunar month. It’s a festival to pay respect to the water spirits and release krathongs, “floating crowns” , into the river. They are made from a slice of banana tree trunk or spider lily plants . We bought krathongs made by locals for 20 baht (less than $1) to light and release, along with a wish or prayer. The sky lanterns which are also released into the sky looked like stars, as there were hundreds floating high into the sky. It was a pretty amazing festival to be a part of.
The Search for Sak Yank
Sak Yant is a form of tattooing practiced in Southeast Asian countries and is believed to be magic,have mystical powers, protection and good luck.
While on a search for Sak Yant tattoos in Thailand, we were sent to a temple right outside the Old City to find a monk who does Sak Yant tattoos. While talking with workers at the temple (trying to at least) we were handed a white piece of paper with words in Thai to show a taxi driver to take us to another temple, as the monk was no longer at the one we were at.
Twenty five minutes later the tuk tuk driver (small go cart looking motorbike that is a mode of transport in lieu of a taxi) drops us off in rural countryside, and we are the only foreigners walking the temple grounds. We show the paper to a groundskeeper who takes us to the monk.
We choose which tattoos we want and the tattoo ritual begins in a room filled with multi-size Buddha statues and paintings. The monk is chanting and praying the entire time, and when finished puts gold flakes surrounding the tattoos and blesses us with water. He sends us off with one last prayer by placing a stone helmet on top of our heads and tying a red bracelet around our wrists, to signify protection and luck.
The monk then brings us down to the master monk, with lack of better words because I’m not sure what to call him. He looks like a modest king sitting in a royal looking chair and we kneel before him individually. He blesses us and “give us extra magic” (as the monks describe) and continuously dips his palm frawn in water and we leave drenched from his blessings along with another red bracelet that he gives us.
What a special, spiritual experience.
To top it off, we got a ride back into town with the monk who did our tattoos as we were too far in the countryside to get a taxi back.