Babies’ First Loi Krathong

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Bangkok_Loi Krathong

This year’s Loi Krathong (Thailand’s “festival of lights”) seemed doomed for our expat family.

Bangkok_Loi Krathong

First, I had this great idea that we should rent a hotel room on the river.  So I typed “Loi Krathong 2014” into the computer about a year ago and booked a room for the night that Google told me to.  The key element to this festival is that people put candle-lit floats called “krathongs” in rivers and lakes and make wishes as they send them off.  This would have been lovely to see at the river.  It also would have been lovely if I had booked our hotel room on the right night.  Imagine my surprise when I started seeing signs about the Loi Krathong celebration on November 6 and realized that I booked our hotel room for November 7.

Bangkok_Loi Krathong

The second seeming blow to my hopes of taking part in what will be our last Loi Krathong in Thailand came when I was sitting in gridlock at 5:30 on the night of the festival.  Not so wise to hop in a taxi to reach a public park by sunset, when everyone else in a city of 9 million are also trying to reach a public park by sunset.

Bangkok_Loi Krathong_

I almost gave up when I finally got home to find that our nanny (love her) had given the girls a bath and put them in cozy pjs since I, of course, had failed to tell her that we were planning take the girls out to toss some krathongs in the water.  We subbed out the pjs for baby jeggings (kills me every time), strapped them in the Ergos and headed out.

Jess, Frank, Molly and Clara by the elevator

Hotel room cancelled, having missed sunset, we still walked to the public park near our apartment and had a great time.

The babies were thoroughly confused by the whole event, particularly since they’re never out after dark.  (“See that,” Frank said to Molly, “that thing is the moon”.)

Bangkok_Loi Krathong_

Frank bought us a great krathong from a sweet family.  Blury photo is all we got…

Bangkok Loi Krathong

And I was photo-bombed by krathongs while Frank tried to get a shot of Clara and me.

Bangkok Loi Krathong

Frank and Molly dropped the krathong in the water and my heart only skipped 3249 beats when I briefly pictured them both falling in headfirst.

Frank_Bangkok_Loi Krathong

But we all stayed dry and only 26 people pointed to the girls and asked if they were twins.

Bangkok_Loi Krathong

This was our fifth and final time to be in Bangkok for the Loi Krathong celebration.  Ironically, we did have a hotel on the river for our first ever Loi Krathong, though we didn’t really know what it was back then.  We moved to Bangkok the night before and felt a little like the celebration was just for us.  Sky lanterns and festive music.  It was a fitting welcome to our new city all those years ago.

I felt a moment of nostalgia thinking about how much has changed since we arrived.  We’re counting down the months until we head back to the U.S. and, while I’m very ready to head home, I will leave with so much gratitude for all we’ve experienced – all the cross-cultural flubs and hours spent in traffic right alongside memories like the one of Loi Krathong.

Of holding Frank’s hand with our sleepy girls on our chests in their tiny jeans while we wish for the best and send a candle-lit krathong off into the night.

Loi Krathongs


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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

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  1. Oh wow didn’t know you were heading home soon! Do you know to where? I love following you guys and your precious girls

  2. Oh this gave me goose bumps. I haven’t seen Frank in person since college but I love seeing how happy he is with you and your girls. Safe travels home and next time you are in NC or VA let me know. There is always an extra room and a family that loves babies ready to make you a meal and let you stay the night. We’ll even babysit so you guys can go out on the town (yes, there are things to do in Roanoke after dark ;0)

    ~ Jenn

  3. What wonderful memories you will have to tell the girls about as they grow! Maybe you can take them back there, someday.

    1. I hope so, Mary Ann – surely they’ll be so curious about this place they spent their first year – a return trip will be due some day in the future!