There are many photos of the lanterns, or khom loi, filling the night sky on Afar so I thought I would instead give an idea of how it feels to participate in Yi Peng. The "official" celebration in Chiang Mai takes place at Mae Jo University 18 kilometers north of the city, and it is here where thousands of people congregate in a large field picnicking and listening to the monks' prayers and chanting waiting for the sun to go down.
Anticipation builds as the sky darkens, the moon rises (Yi Peng is a celebration of the full moon in the second lunar month) and the countdown begins. When the time comes, the monk requests that you still your mind, and send that feeling of peace out to the world, and thousands of lanterns catch light and wind and ascend into the darkness together. A wave of communal happiness washes over the large crowd, and strangers become friends, taking pictures of each other, laughing and just being thankful they were able to share in such a memorable experience.
Lanterns will be for sale along the entrance to the Old City along the river in Chiang Mai, but that cannot compare to the spectacle of the group celebration at the University.