We were in Chiang Rai for New Year’s Eve and we didn’t know how or if they celebrate and where. Googling sent us to check out the clocktower square in the afternoon and we were happy to find a big stage and lots of night market booths coming to life. We didn’t expect to hear a Thai version of the Miami Sound Machine doing a sound check but we’re getting used to the unexpected in music here in Northern Thailand.
I don’t think we mentioned before that the most common music we hear around these parts is jazz, followed by R&B, then classic singer-songwriters. Nearly every guesthouse, restaurant or shop greets us with cool jazz, like Chet Baker, Oscar Peterson, Mile Davis, Stan Getz. We asked a lot of hosts why jazz is so popular but we’re met with blank looks as if to say, “What else would we be listening to?”
We returned to the square in the evening as the party was getting started, joining what must be the entire population of greater Chiang Rai. The setup was like a giant night market but most of the vendors were selling beer, cocktails, and snacks. Chang Beer seemed to be the biggest sponsor judging from their marketing presence.
One band after another got the crowd going until the final group caused a frenzied surge toward the stage with a sea of phones recording the performance. We never learned who they were but even the armed police guards edged closer, obviously enjoying the privilege of their position.
As we approached midnight and the countdown the band relinquished the stage to the dignitaries and we watched the clock as we listened to what we assume were thanks to the organizers and VIPs. Note the year in this photo — 2566. That’s the new year in the Buddhist calendar. My iPad has been on the Buddhist calendar since we arrived in Thailand despite every attempt to remind it where it came from.
Finally we counted down to 2023 and we were treated to beautiful fireworks and much cheering and selfie-taking.
2022 was a difficult year of transition for Jack and me but we feel pretty good about 2023, and ringing in the new year surrounded by so much joy bodes well for the future. We wish you all a year of health and happiness. May you find peace and pleasure every day of the year.