Hey! Yuta here!

Some basic background information about my trip.
Enthralled by the amazing views in the book, “The breathtaking sights in the world I want to see before I die,” I’m the guy who couldn’t hold back his desire to travel after he graduated from college.
After graduating from college, I spent what you call a “gap year” just wandering around the world.
I experienced long stays in the Philippines and New York, nurtured my backpacking skills in Thailand, and traveled across America. Recently, I took a trip around the world to see breathtaking sights found across the world.
I currently work at a travel agency and assist in trips as a travel agent.

Why I participated in Khom Loi (Lantern Festival)

This was actually my third time participating in this festival.
The first time I participated, I went because I just had to see the thousands of lanterns dancing in the night sky. I fell in love with the sight that I saw that time and I’ve been participating every year since.

<Captured with the THETA>

It’s seriously so much fun!
I hope that when you finish reading this article, you’ll want to go next year! With that goal in mind, I’ll do my best to tell you about the charms of Chiang Mai and Khom Loi.

So, what exactly is Khom Loi?
Khom Loi is a Buddhist ceremony in which lanterns are lit and released into the night sky to pay respect to the Buddha once a year. It’s held every year in November, on a day of a full moon.
A scene in “Tangled” was inspired by this festival, making it famous, and in recent years, it’s been a popular topic on Social Media. It’s become a festival that’s collecting the world’s attention.

Khom Loi is held in the city of Chiang Mai located in northern Thailand.  Sometimes there are people who mistakenly think that Khom Loi is held around Bangkok, so be careful! To get an idea of the distance between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, I’d say it feels something like the distance between Osaka and Tokyo.

By the way, about this Chiang Mai, it’s the second largest city in Thailand and it’s a designated ancient city World Heritage Site.

As usual, I’d like to briefly share the general mood of my trip.

Day 1: Arrival in Chiang Mai

My trip this time was four nights and five days.

On the first day, I took a plane that departed Narita Airport at 9:30 and arrived in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand.

Then, at 20:00, I got onto another plane and headed for Chiang Mai from Bangkok.
By 21:30, I landed in Chiang Mai.
(Due to the connecting flights, it takes one day to get there.)

After arriving, I went directly to my lodging! I was meeting the other members for the first time.
By the way, about 20 of us participated in Khom Loi this time. The members started planning the trip together several months prior to the festival, booking the lodging, reserving the plane tickets, and getting the Khom Loi tickets.

There were already about 10 members gathered on the first day, and I arrived at the lodging a bit nervous as there were many members who I didn’t know.

(I wonder what type of people they are. I wonder if we’ll get along.)

It’s hard not to get nervous when meeting people for the first time.

Timidly, I stepped into the house that we’d reserved for lodging…

“Woo-hoo♪ Woo-hoo♪ Yeah♪” (I’m making this up.)

Everyone was having a great time with drinks.
Just imagine something like a college drinking party chant.

(Wow, they’re really excited…)

So first, I headed over to where the excitement was…

<Captured with the THETA>

“Yuta!! Good to see you! Nice to meet you!”

“Let’s drink!!”

They gave me a very warm welcome.
This was the third time I planned this Khom Loi trip, but each time I’m blessed with good people.

I’m really very grateful to everyone. (It’s only the first day…)

This night, we had a ball and then went to bed.

Day 2: Sightseeing

On this day, we broke up into two groups. One group went to see the White Temple in Chiang Rai, while the other relaxed at a cafe.
I was in the group that relaxed at a cafe, but I wanted to see photos of the White Temple shot with the THETA, so I asked someone else to take photos for me!
I’d like to use those photos to introduce some of Chiang Rai’s tourist attractions.

Here are those photos.

<Captured with the THETA>

As expected, there’s something different about photos that are shot with the THETA. More fun than regular photos.

This is the photo taken using a selfie stick (TM-2)↓

<Captured with the THETA>

When you use the selfie stick, it looks as though you took the shot from the sky.
I think that the selfie stick is perfect for THETA photography since you can take a shot without your hand in it and from a position above you.
So, if you’re going to use the THETA, I recommend using a selfie stick.

The White Temple is called “Wat Rong Khun” and has become famous in recent years for being “Instagrammable.”

It’s located in Chiang Rai which is about a 3-hour drive from Chiang Mai. You can get there by bus or taxi.

These bizarre, countless hands! Hands! Hands!!
It’s quite a sight, isn’t it?

On a side note, this time we rented a 10-passenger van for the trip out from Chiang Mai.

In Chiang Rai, there’s also a “Blue Temple” which is also a popular tourist spot.

It’s really blue!

<Captured with the THETA>

THETA photography is fun!

It’s famous for being an Instagrammable spot, but I hope you have fun while keeping in mind that it is a temple that you’re visiting.

We didn’t have enough time to go this time around, but other than these two temples, there’s a “Black Temple.” Be sure to visit there too when you go to Chiang Rai.

That night, we went out into the city.
Usually, it’s pretty quiet and slow in Chiang Mai, but around the time of Khom Loi, it gets busy and festive.

We didn’t take any good photos, but during this time, the city is festive and lively. This festive mood is one of the reasons why I keep coming back for Khom Loi.
Oh! And don’t worry because it’s very safe too.

Also, although several thousand can’t be released at once, it’s also possible to release lanterns in the city.

Releasing lanterns in the city↓

You can also release one as a group. (This is a photo from last year.) ↓

Since it can get pretty hectic on the day of Khom Loi with taking photos and releasing lanterns, I also recommend taking your time and releasing the lanterns in the city.

I really hope you make a trip out to Chiang Mai around this time because there are so many different ways to enjoy your stay.

Day 3: Day of Khom Loi

The day of Khom Loi.

In the afternoon, it was finally time for us to head out to the Khom Loi venue.

There are several Khom Loi venues around Chiang Mai. The Mae Rim District, the venue where we went, is a popular venue in recent years.

Apparently, more lanterns are released there compared to other venues and they even have a fireworks display.
How exciting!

It takes about an hour by car to the Khom Loi venue.
We made the trip out in this type of songthaew (?) that we chartered.

<Captured with the THETA>

After we arrived at the venue, we waited until it was time for Khom Loi to start. During our wait, we tried the local food and watched traditional performing arts.

Us getting some local food↓

As you can see in the photo, you could take whatever you wanted from local foods to drinks.

Us waiting for Khom Loi to start. ↓

<Captured with the THETA>

When you take a photo with the THETA, everything looks more fun! (Well, it actually was fun for real! )
We waited for nightfall and Khom Loi to start while leisurely eating.

During this wait, by the way, there’s an event unique to the Mae Rim District that I recommend you to see.

You can experience a ceremony in which paper lanterns are floated down a river. This ceremony is very magical and beautiful!

During the time of Khom Loi, you’ll see paper lanterns floating down the rivers within the city. This ceremony is called “Loy Krathong” locally and it’s meant to give thanks to the blessings of the rivers and as prayers to the spirit of the deceased.

After all this, we participated in Chiang Mai’s traditional show and prayers, and it was finally time to release the Khom Loi.

“Oooh, this is it!!”

Everyone was getting really excited!

The various rituals were finished and it was finally time to release the lanterns.

3, 2, 1…

Isn’t it…just amazing?
No words can describe this sight.

I got goosebumps all over.
Sights that are moving no matter how many times you see it are wonderful, don’t you think?

All the while, I could only say, “Wow, this is just amazing! Amazing!” That’s really all I could manage to say.

That’s how amazing it is! (Really, the extent of my vocabulary… )

You can also edit movies like this.

Just amazing…
It’s a sight, a breathtaking sight from an entirely different world.

I’d love for all of you to actually see this sight with your own eyes.

After the Khom Loi ceremony, we took it easy around Chiang Mai and then we went our separate ways.

On using the THETA this time

The last time I used the THETA, I described my thoughts on it as “easier to use than I thought, more to it than I thought.”
What I meant was that it’s very simple to use, but there’s much more to it in the editing!

In addition to that, I’d like to share with you some of my failures this time.

What I failed with this time was the recording time for movies.
This time I borrowed the THETA V, which is capable of recording 4K movies for up to 30 minutes continuously.
When I went to borrow the camera, the person in charge of the THETA told me beforehand that

“If a movie is long, the data will be large when you transfer it to a smartphone, so be sure to save every one or two minutes when you record movies!”

However, the day of Khom Loi.
Unable to control my desire to celebrate with the other participants and release lanterns, I took the style of continuously recording a movie with the THETA fixed in place. (Oh, Yuta, you really should listen to the advice you were given… )

And the result…

“I, I can’t transfer the movie data to my smartphone… ”

How I felt at that moment↓

I just couldn’t get the movie data to transfer to my smartphone. But it was probably divine punishment for not listening to what I was told.

I tried this and that with a friend who knows a lot about the THETA. We tried everything. Trial and error for hours.

“This is impossible…”

I can’t transfer the data to my smartphone. I can’t transfer the data to a computer. (Even if I can transfer the data, I can’t view the movie in 360°.)
The movie of Khom Loi that I was so excited about… I was disheartened. (Well, I really just got what I deserved.)

After returning to Japan, I swallowed my pride and asked the person in charge of the THETA for some advice.
And they gave me the following advice.

・ It’s recommended that you transfer the data to a computer.
・ Download the THETA app for computer from the THETA website to enable viewing 360° movies.

There’s a THETA app for the computer! That’s why I couldn’t view it as is in 360° even though I could transfer it to my computer…
When I transferred the file by following the advice I got, all my problems were solved immediately.
A great big thank you to the person in charge of the THETA.

What I learned this time on how to use the THETA

・ It’s recommended that you record movies within a length of one or two minutes if you want to transfer it to a smartphone immediately.
・ It’s possible to transfer movies that are longer, but you’ll need to use a computer that has the app from the THETA website downloaded to it. (If it’s a movie that is several minutes long, it may be difficult to transfer it to a smartphone…)

By the way, the THETA V’s initial setting for movie recordings is “within 5 minutes.”
If you want to take movies that are longer, be sure to change the setting beforehand!
*I changed the setting to 30 minutes and recorded my movie.

Countries where I want to use the THETA in the future

I’d like to use it at a festival of colors called the Holi Festival in India which takes place in March.
When you walk around the city, people splash water and colored powder on you and everyone wishes each other happiness saying “Happy Holi.” Among travelers, it’s well-known as a “crazy” festival. I think that people will get a better feel of the festive mood if I take photos with the THETA.

Last thing.
Like this time’s Khom Loi festival, Holi Festival India scheduled in March, and New Year’s Eve in New York, I randomly come up with plans to go to countries or festivals that I personally want to go to.

New Year’s Eve in New York. ↓

Instagram: @Yuta_Kusumoto

Model used: THETA V

*This article was written by Yuta, who was asked to try out the THETA V and share episodes from when he used it.