Mae Hong Son : Lanterns by the lake.
Mae Hong Son Travel Blog› entry 93 of 268 › view all entries
âPhew!â Itâs nice to have escaped from the chaos of Pai bus station! Less of a bus station than an oversize baseball mound upon which buses of all varying sizes and conditions attempt to practically balance on top of one another. A chrome, glass and beaten up leather seat crush. Thereâs so little room! Parking is an abstract concept here.
I am peculiarly tired today. I drift in and out of sleep all the way on the bus ride to Mae Hong Son the capital and administrative centre of this self-same named north-westerly province of Thailand. When my weary, sun-drugged eyes do from time to time open they are rewarded with beautiful views, glimpsed like a scenic zoetrope animation, the flickering glances of beautiful rolling hills seen through the gaps in roadside trees.
Mae Hong Son is a very neatly presented little town. Surrounded, as with Pai, on all sides by the northern Thai hills. A small, postcard-perfect lake (manmade I assume?) sits at its heart to offset and reflect the beautiful scenery. Finding accommodation here (after a longish, sweaty stroll from the outta town bus station) proves testing again as the Thai New Years crowds are still holidaying in force.
I have managed to lose my crummy Casio watch. My list of mislaid items on The Trail is becoming very troubling to me indeed but I try not to let anger at myself harm my travel calm too much. Most of the irritation is born of the fact that having to possess a watch at all annoys the p*ss outta me! The Casio had been a once in 15 years concession to travel necessity purchased begrudgingly in Cyprus. The thought of having to fork out for another time-keeper; life-counter; soul-snarer; fun-apportionator just gets me down.
For such a compact town there is a wealth of very appealing, decorative and well kept Buddhist wats in Mae Hong Son.
As evening comes on, a large vibrant market has bloomed along the side streets that line the approaches to the lake and around its westerly shore. A thousand different dishes, barely a tenth of them recognisable to my eyes are being cooked over coals, charcoal braziers, naked flames or large skillet woks. It all smells wonderful! I have a great time just strolling up and down and back again and picking the next âmystery dishâ to try.
I sit on a bench staring at the waters of the lake and practising some Thai vocabulary. To my right a constant stream of large paper lanterns are being released into the night skies of Mae Hong Son from the grounds of Wats Jong Kam and Jong Klang. I could watch those things float heavenward all night long. Strolling closer to the wats you can watch people as they light their many lanterns.
A girl stands fervently praying besides her lighted lantern, palms pressed firm together before her face, her lips a-blur whilst her male companions hold on to the lantern. I love this as a gesture. As an act of faith, ceremony or even if itâs just plain old hope and enjoyment. Itâs something sweetly serene and beautiful. As I guess all prayer is maybe? I like the idea that they fill these New Years lanterns not only with heat and light, but also with their hopes; their prayers; a stream of words to lift them into the skies; a flow of thoughts and love that will propel them all the way to the stars.
And thatâs kinda wonderful even for a cynic and (so far) unbeliever like me. I know that these lanterns are destined to run outta heat; outta gas; outta juice in the end. Itâs cold up there! I suppose sometime, someplace they must all start a silent descent again like so many scorched feathers cascading back down to earth. And the cynic in me wants to smirk and declare that this is an apt enough image for the trajectory; the fate of all prayers but you should not listen to me âcos Iâm still young(ish), capricious in mind and belief, undecided and often insensitive with my thoughts and I can be cynical b**tard to boot.