We made our own krathongs as you can see below.
Loy Krathong was celebrated a month after the King passed away. Thailand is still in mourning so the traditional beauty contests and music concerts were cancelled out of respect. Instead we all focused on the core of the tradition - to let our krathongs peacefully float onto the ocean with wishes of letting go of the bad and sad things from the past year and start anew.
We made our own krathongs as you can see below.
Today we had a planned full day power cut on Koh Lanta so we decided to make our late morning classes a cooking class so we could stay in the cooler reception area. We chose to make the Thai dish som tam which means papaya salad. It's a very delicious dish that combines many flavours - spicy, sour, sweet and salty.
Many foreigners believe that there is no papaya in som tam as thay can't find the ripe orange papaya flesh in the dish. But the reason why they can't find it is because we use the papaya before it has ripened, the flesh is then white and crispy.
Som tam is traditionally supposed to be very spicy and Thai people can put 10-20 chilies in one salad. Some foreigners like it that way too but many prefer it a little less spicy. But even if you ask for "not spicy" a Thai chef might put 3-5 chilies in your dish anyway as that is considered to be not spicy at all. If you want it less spicy it's better to specify the number of chili fruits you want. Start with one and work your way up.
The standard papaya salad is made from green papaya, long green beans, tomatoes and peanuts with garlic, chilies, lime juice, fish sauce and palm sugar as the flavoring. But there are many variations and common extra ingredients include carrots, corn, dried shrimps, fermented crabs and salty eggs. So feel free to improvise if you make your own som tam!
The majority of Thai people are Buddhists and today we made a visit to the Buddhist temple in Lanta Old Town to learn more about the religion and traditions. Yesterday our teachers taught us how to dress and behave in a temple in order to be respectful to the monks and religion. We were also instructed to buy some food and medicines if we wanted to make a donation to the temple.
As (strict) monks are not allowed to handle money they have to live on donations made by generous people. But the generous people also benefit from this arrangement as donations to monks are considered to bring very good karma.
Our teacher Eak has been a monk for some time so he told us what it's like to live in the temple. The other teachers shared their experiences of how Buddhism influences the daily life and family celebrations in Thailand. After that we got to meet one of the monks.
The monk told us more about Buddhism on Lanta and the Buddhist holidays which are celebrated at the temple. He also taught us how to meditate and then we got to try sitting meditation for 30 minutes. After that he answered our questions and then it was time to donate our gifts. This is also done in a special way as our heads need to be lower that the monk's head and the monk is not allowed to receive gifts directly from women so he had to use a piece of cloth instead.
After donating and thanking the monk we walked around the temple area and our teachers told us more about Buddhist funerals and weddings.
It was a very interesting day and we learned a lot about Buddhism and what it's like to live in a temple or in a Buddhist family.
Of course we needed some roses for our Love Week and staff and students spent an afternoon making them from ribbons, wire and green tape. There are a couple of techniques to use and they require some patience and skill but eventually everyone managed to make as many flowers as they wished to give away.
Lanta International Language School celebrated Children's Day by joining the activities in Pra Ae Park. This year we taught the children how to make bracelets. We chose to use beads with (Roman) letters on them and let the children pick a word in English (or their name) that would make up their bracelet.
Children's Day is a big day in Thailand and there are free activities, shows, food and drinks for all children in all provinces. The video below is from a few years ago but you can get a sense of how we celebrate on Lanta.
As usual LILS celebrated the Thai festival Loy Krathong by making beautiful floats from banana tree and flowers together before heading to Lanta Old Town and the big celebrations there.
Today Khun Eak showed us how to make the popular Thai dessert Bananas in coconut milk. It was a fun and very delicious experience. We learned how to make coconut cream and milk from fresh coconut meat but if you don't have access to that you can buy it ready made in cans or tetras.
This is what you will need to make this delicious dessert:
How to do:
On the second Saturday in January Thailand celebrates Children's Day. On this day there are activities and shows in parks and recreational areas. The children are given gifts and candy and everything is free to do and enjoy. Lanta International Language School participates in the celebrations every year by arranging activities. This year we decided to paint t-shirts at Pra Ae Park which is the place where Children's Day is celebrated in our area.
A couple of years ago we played games and handed out gifts to the children on Children's Day. Below you can watch a short video clip from that day.
Loy Krathong is celebrated in Thailand in November each year. A Krathong is a small decorated float made by a piece of banana tree trunk, leaves and flowers. The creation includes candles and incense sticks that are lighted right before putting the Krathong in the sea, river or lake. The word "Loy" means "to float".
The ceremony is celebrated as a way to ask for forgiveness from the water that we have used and polluted during the year. We also wish for happiness and success for the coming year and think about the generations that have gone before us. Everyone who puts a hair or piece of a nail in the same Krathong are believed to be reborn together in the next life so the Krathongs have many deeper meanings than just their beauty.
We made our Krathongs at school and then went to Lanta Old Town to put them into the sea. Lanta Old Town has the biggest official celebrations on Lanta and this includes a contest for the most beautiful Krathong. This year LILS entered this contest with a Krathong made by the staff. They were awarded second place.
Our teacher Bow entered Lanta's version of the traditional Loy Krathong Beauty Contests that are a part of the celebrations all around Thailand. She did a great performance (in the drizzling rain) but did not end up as one of the top three contestants.
Laanta Lanta Festival takes place in Lanta Old Town in March every year. For three days the roads are packed with food stalls and small shops selling local handicrafts, clothes and souvenirs. There are loads of things to eat and buy as well as music, dancing and games. Both students and teachers enjoyed several visits to the festival.
Updates and news about our school and Koh Lanta written by our staff.