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9th Annual Thai New Year Festival | สงกรานต์

Anticipation is a funny thing.  Sometimes, you can look forward to an event so much that once it actually happens, it’s kind of a letdown.  Your anticipation ruined it.  However, there are other times when whatever it was you were anticipating matches perfectly with your expectations… and when that happens, it’s a total treat.  This past weekend was a totally amazing treat for me and the boyfriend.

Sunday was the 9th annual Thai New Year (Songkran) Festival in L.A.’s Thai Town.  It was touted as the “largest cultural event outside of Thailand” and there was no way that the boyfriend and I were going to miss it this year.  We learned our lesson last year!  So we made sure to book our plane tickets several months ahead in excited anticipation of this annual Thai celebration.

Then, about a month ago, we learned of a 2-day intensive, hands-on food photography workshop that Todd and Diane of White on Rice Couple were hosting.  It was, serendipitously, scheduled to take place in the L.A. area on the Friday and Saturday before the Thai festival.  Participating in a WORC photography class had always been a dream of mine… and when the timing and other logistics worked out, it was just too good to be true. 

And then, if that weren’t enough, we learned that Peter and Natty of the hugely popular Thai recipe site, Thai Table, were going to be at the Thai Festival and were up for meeting us!

It was shaping up to be such an exciting weekend, I was giddy with anticipation.  And I’m so happy to report that it didn’t disappoint.  In fact, it was even able to exceed my expectations!  

The 2 days that we spent with Todd and Diane were nothing short of incredible.  They expertly guided us through the daunting world of food photography.  We got to know our camera and played around with lighting, composition, and food styling.  We met other food lovers and photographers, got messy making our own props for food photography, and ate mouth-wateringly delicious home-cooked food.  And Todd and Diane, in addition to being wonderful teachers and mentors, were such gracious hosts.  The boyfriend and I left their studio on Saturday night feeling inspired, rejuvenated, and much more confident in our budding photography skills.

With this new inspiration and knowledge of photography, we then set out to the Thai festival on Sunday.  It was just a few blocks long, but so much was packed into this space.  There were stalls upon stalls of Thai handicrafts, a boxing ring for Muay Thai fighters, and a beer garden sponsored by Singha.  There was a street parade with local authorities as well as celebrities who had been flown in from Thailand.  On the main stage, there were traditional Thai performances in addition to the the Miss Thai USA beauty pagent.

And of course, there was delicious Thai food.  Green papaya salad, larb, satays of various varieties, deep-fried meatballs, and Northern Thai sausages were among the offerings.  The boyfriend and I had a good sampling of these dishes and then washed it all down with freshly-squeezed sugarcane juice and coconut juice straight from a roasted coconut.  We finished our meal with mango sticky rice and then stopped by our favorite dessert shop to pick up additional sweets to bring home.

After exploring the festival grounds and eating until our bellies were pleasantly plump, we had the opportunity to meet Peter and Natty.  We shared our love of Thai food and culture, website building and photography.  They are such a nice, down-to-earth couple, it was really a pleasure getting to know them.  And if there weren’t enough coincidences in this weekend already, we realized that we’re actually neighbors back home in the Bay Area!  

I’ve read that the Thai New Year Fesival is a time of new beginnings as well as a time to “reflect upon the many acts of kindness and thoughtfulness each has personally experienced and to remember how such acts of generosity and compassion bring peace, happiness and well-being.”  And after meeting and spending time with amazing people like Todd and Diane, Peter and Natty, and all of the other participants of the photography workshop and Thai festival, that is exactly what I felt at this year’s Songkran festival.

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