Thailand‘s enchanting Loi Krathong moon festival had special meaning for Thais this week as their much-loved King reappeared in public after treatment for a lung inflammation.
For centuries crowds have gathered on Thailand‘s river banks under the full moon of the twelfth lunar month to launch an eerie flotilla of tiny banana-leaf rafts lit by flickering candles and carrying flowers, incense and – slightly less picturesquely – nail clippings.
According to tradition, the floats carry away the year’s bad luck and misdeeds – but this year they had extra meaning as King Bhumibol left hospital to launch a float on Bangkok‘s Chao Phraya River.
Despite falling on a Monday, the event was celebrated in a spectacular manner in its traditional hotspots like Chiang Mai, where many travel to witness the release of a breath-taking cloud of thousands of khom fai sky lanterns.
The festival’s traditional attractions include beauty contests named after Queen Noppamas, who is credited with floating the first decorated krathong.
Phuket‘s event, though, had the unconventional twist of being held between ladyboys studying at the island‘s universities.