To see more photos of the festival, explore the #loykrathong hashtag. For more photos from Bien, follow @jsph on Instagram.
In Thailand and pockets of Myanmar, Malaysia and Laos, November 25 is the annual Loy Krathong festival — held at canals, rivers and lakes where those celebrating release ornate, buoyant baskets, called krathongs, to the water. “What I love about Loi Krathong is the idea of letting go,” says New York-based recruiting manager Bien Sunga (@jsph), whose travels to Chiang Mai, Thailand, coincided with this year’s festival. Several million Southeast Asian people and other travelers participate to honor Buddha and the goddess of water, and many hope to release negativity along with their floats. Bien likes this aspect best: “It is a good outlet to really separate myself from anything bothering me, so I can focus on the good in my life.”
Some pics from my private tour of a horrifying “elephant camp” in Chiang Mai Thailand yesterday. Promoted as “ecotourism,” there are 25 camps, some with 40 elephants. Tourists from around the world visit the camps to ride the elephants through the forest. They would be made to do tricks (high five bowing, etc.) for their human of the moment. This camp had 4, very sad adults held captive (I can’t think of it any other way) by four gnarly looking dudes with bad teeth and machettes. One had a hand gun that he’d wave around, showing it off. There was one woman who serviced the camp - cooking, cleaning, washing for the men. They denied the elephants were harmed - said they enjoyed it actually. The ankle chains, as you see, are very very short. The whole thing seemed out of a dream and I’ll never go back.