There has been a lot of confusion among people in Bangkok and the rest of the country since the passing of the Supreme Patriarch last week. Initially the mourning period was set for 15 days and civil servants and state enterprise workers were told to wear black until 8th November. The following day, the King announced that the mourning period for members of the royal family and palace officials would be for 30 days until 23rd November. The next thing we knew was that the government extended their mourning period to 30 days too.
So, what does this mean for normal folk? Well, the police made it known that they wanted clubs and bars to cancel all entertainment during the mourning period. On the first night, some bars did close out of respect. But not all of them as some people tweeted that in their neighbourhood everything was open as normal. The problem is that the police could only request for the bar owners to co-operate. They couldn’t do anything unless they stayed open outside of normal opening hours. So, it started with a few bars staying open to the point now where most bars are back open as normal. Many also have their normal entertainment.
What is confusing for the public, and indeed for foreign tourists who are planning to come here for a holiday, is that there is no clear picture of what is and isn’t open. There has been some reports of major events in Bangkok being cancelled. Like an art exhibition at the BACC and the Halloween celebrations at Siam Center. But again, this seems to be sporadic and up to individual business operators. Some things are cancelled while others might just tone down the entertainment. While for others, it is business as normal.
Here in Samut Prakan, we have the 12 day and 12 night temple fair that started on the same day as the Supreme Patriarch died. Countless thousands here every day, drinking and having fun. It’s very loud too. As usual, money talks and some things you cannot stop. Which is why I was surprised yesterday when the TAT told the media that they have decided to postpone their Loy Krathong events out of respect to the late Supreme Patriarch. Our temple fair goes on for 12 nights but Loy Krathong is only one night.
The problem with Loy Krathong is that it is fixed by the phases of the moon. It always takes place on the full moon in November. This year it is on 17th November 2013. You can hardly move it. So, I didn’t really believe that people would not go to float their krathongs on that night. To add to the confusion, the BMA came out this morning that they are NOT cancelling their Loy Krathong events in Bangkok. They just won’t put on any entertainment.
UPDATE FOR TUESDAY 29 OCTOBER 2013:
This morning there was a small piece in the Bangkok Post quoting the government as saying that “state organisations and the private sector may proceed with annual Loy Krathong celebrations”. So, it would seem that Loy Krathong may or may not happen, it is just up to the individual organisers and they can organize celebrations “as they see fit”.
Last night, the BMA said that they will allow people to float krathongs in 28 parks around Bangkok but fireworks or firecrackers won’t be allowed. The Yee Peng Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai is also going on as scheduled. So far, there has been no clarification from the TAT as to why they told the Bangkok Post that they are “suspending” festivities.
Confused about what is happening during Loy Krathong this year? Well, you are not alone. I am getting so many letters from tourists asking about Loy Krathong. At this moment in time, we just don’t know what will take place or not. I cannot even say if the monthly Full Moon Party will take place. Does anyone know?