Recently I had the good fortune to travel to Thailand. Traveling and learning about other cultures is one of my favorite hobbies. Despite the many differences around the world, there is one thing that unites us all; water. No matter how exciting or relaxing a trip may be, I can’t leave work at home and always find myself drawn to the natural waterways on my travels.
Thailand is a beautiful country with beautiful, happy people; it’s known as the Land of Smiles. Our trip was in the middle of Loy Krathong, the Festival of Lights, a three-day celebration to give thanks to the river goddess. On the third night of the festival “krathongs” are set adrift in the river. Krathongs are small, floating tributes for the water goddess made from plants, leaves, and flowers. This year, the theme of the celebration was environmental stewardship and all krathongs were to be made from biodegradable products. While there were still some available with a styrofoam base, most of the ones we saw were indeed plant material. Another fun option were krathongs made from what appeared to be colorful packing peanuts that were actually dissolvable and made of fish food.
Loy Krathong made me think a lot about how much value we, all over the world, place on water. Yet even as we celebrated the river goddess with our biodegradable krathong, we encountered the challenges Bangkok faces in keeping their waterways clean. They are some of the same challenges we face – stormwater runoff, outdated waste management and others.
While communities around the world, including our own, struggle to ensure water quality, it is heartening to see how we are all united in this same quest. Water connects us all, and I feel incredibly lucky to take part in protecting the waterways in the community I call home. I want to thank you all for joining me in that fight, and I hope you have a Happy New Year!