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Lotus Festival Banphliyainai 11 October 2011

In Samut Prakan, east of Bangkok they have a traditional festival where a boat procession travels down the river, locals throw lotus flowers into the boats. Make a wish in the form of a prayer, throw the flower at the boats, if you get it into the boat the wish may be granted. Get it into the big boat, the one carrying the Buddha image, and that's you're best chance that your wish will come true.

This year the festival is October 11th, and I'm going to make a full day of it, and since it's a temple festival, I'm going to do a tribute (known as a tambone) to my dad, who sadly died a few years ago. Tambone time at the temple is 6am-7am, boat procession is about 8-10am. First the tambone and the warmup:

It's busy in the town center, the locals all have their seats ready for the lotus throwing, camera crews everywhere with big professional camera and big professional camera men. They're part of the show too, so naturally I got close ups of Channel 7 filming the boats.

Further east along the river is a riverside market, a long long riverside market. Take the time to go visit it, they're so lucky to work next to the river in such a beautiful place. As I visited the market, the floats were being towed back behind the shops.

At the end of the market, you reach the main temple, and naturally on this day, there's a temple party to go with the lotus festival, the party actually started two days ealier. But even when there isn't a huge festival here, the temple itself has plenty to do. I joined in with the giant candle making. Everyone adds a little wax and makes a wish, and together we make one huge candle they burn at the temple with everyone wishes.

Outside was a cart filled with the lotus flowers from the boats, one of the local villagers pulled out some of the best lotus flowers and gave me them. It's a nice friendly tradition to make sure visitors get a lotus flower to take home. You also get to climb on the main boat and try pick some flowers from that too.

Getting there
It's not too far from Bangkok Airport, so a metered-taxi from any of the stops on the east side of the river will get you there. Alternatively catch a bus that runs down Bangna express way (they're very cheap, I paid 12 baht from Bearing Skytrain station, but air-conditioned buses cost more), when you see HomePro on the right (it's quite far, well past Central, Index etc.) get off the next stop. Cross over the foot bridge to the south side and there's a little baht bus to Ban Phli temple (6 baht each). I've marked the location of the Baht bus junction on the map.

View Samut Prakan Lotus Boat Festival in a larger map

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