A Travellerspoint blog

candle festing!

the celebration before Buddhist Lent

sunny 100 °F

The Candle Festival.

I feel like there should be a lot to say about the Candle Festival—I mean, as the biggest event in Ubon, it should have more stories behind it than mine seems to. Don't get me wrong, the festival was awesome, just not particularly story filled.

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Ubon's iconic giant candle statue in the middle of the park.

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(that says Ubon Classic on the windshield)

The general scene:
Everything was centered around the park, which was loaded with food stalls, a carnival, a market, and people. The main stage was there, though I didn't watch any of those performances. The main street was shut down for the parading of the candles and the dancers. I have some videos to give you the full effect (the music is necessary) and will load them once not hindered by a fire wall.

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At the museum, they had all kinds of cool, wax related art.

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How it's done

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Me, looking tall with the Chinese teacher.

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The candles were enormous! Wats from around the around have been working for months, carving these giant wax sculptures. The tradition originated from the days when people would donate candles to give the monks light during the rainy season, but I'm not too sure when the crossover from practical candles to "Woah, that's a crazy candle" was made. The transportation of these things must have been horrendous. I mean, I was drove behind our Mardi Gras float down I-10 at 40 mph, but that pales in comparison.

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And with music! The candles never went anywhere without music.

The first parade was at night. Ericka had come in from Phitsanolok and we grabbed seats under the covered area. Excellent for watching, not too great for photos. Some attempts:

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Yes, it was raining.

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Candle Float! pulled by a tractor!

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After the parade, I made it back to the candle parking grounds and snagged some close ups.

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Most of the candles play out different religious scenes. You'll see some of the detail in later photos.

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MULLET ATTACK.

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The next morning they did it all again, this time not in the rain but in the incredibly hot temperatures.

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The Thai parade route. Study this picture for a moment--the positions, the fashion styles. Remember all of this so as not to make fun of me on my return.

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These dancers were depicting normal life in Isaan... all of their props are used for fishing.

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How they keep the candles from melting.

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The. Shoes.

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Not quite marching band, is it Dane?

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THE PINK FLOAT.

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That's the king.

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Posted by decuirrl 03:18 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

Bangkok to Det Udom

For the 60th anniversary of TUSEF, I was lucky in numerous ways. I met people from the state department, saw the room where Thaksin's case was tried, talked with an old Thai ambassador (in both senses of the word), and had excellent academic discussions with some incredibly intelligent people from all over, all connected with Fulbright. And I got to see Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn…from afar. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity that both the US and Thailand have given me so that this was all possible. It really was a treat to participate in such a prestigious and enjoyable event.

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Head of the Supreme Court. And P'Tip.

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At the opening of the Symposium.

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At the reception that evening.

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It was also nice to be in the city for a bit, grab some delicious desserts and relax.

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{More photos can be found here: Fulbright Photo Album}

The real treat, though, was waiting for me back in Ubon. The week returning from Bangkok flew by as Candle Festival approached. One night during the festival, Meaw called me to say that the students would be dancing that evening. James and I decided to return to the school to watch the performance.

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(That's an upside-down, one handed playing of that instrument right there)

Most of these girls are in one of my Monday classes and I have been hanging out at their practices attempting to pick up some Thai dance. It was amazing to see the final product.

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Being back stage was fun, too.

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The next morning, the students danced again, briefly, in front of the spirit house of the school. James and I then headed back to Ubon for the main festivities.

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As fantastic as the experience in Bangkok was, the girls' reaction when we made it backstage, their excitement at seeing us, was beyond anything Bangkok could have given me. My girls knew that I was there to see them and they appreciated it. And I was proud to watch them.

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Posted by decuirrl 09:07 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Guess who's coming to town?

hint: the one with the mustache

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!!!!

Posted by decuirrl 07:58 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

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