Paper Lanterns & Bright Things

Thousands gather in Chiang Mai release paper lanterns into the sky for the week-long Yi Peng festival.

The lifecycle of a lantern

Ignition. Lift Off. Cruise. Burn out. Land.

A fallen lantern.

Interestingly enough, no one expressed any concerns about fire. I dispense with my worries as well—do as Romans do.*

It's rather alarming to see a paper lantern catch fire overhead the first time, but by the third, fourth, or nth time I grow unfazed by the spontaneous combustion happening above. These burning lanterns are just harmless little meteors, after all.*

*Update: Looks like the city is now regulating when they're allowing lanterns to be released (certain days, hours) after 1,414 lanterns landed on the runway at Chiang Mai International in 2013.

Grab the gunpowder

People buy and launch fireworks during the festival week. I was lucky enough to have the experience of building fireworks.

There's something unsettling about hammering gunpowder into a clay ball. I suppose as long as you keep flammables far away, there shouldn't (shouldn't) be an issue.

Measure out gunpowder.

Hammering gunpowder in.

Ball shaped sparklers.

The results are quite pretty.

Less combustible bright things

The hanging lanterns are also quite nice. They fill the city's streets and plazas with light.


The festival draws to a close and in just a couple of days, any traces of it swept away. The city's surprisingly effective about clean up.

I hope they reuse these.