Laos & Isaan, Thailand | 4-8 May 2018

In Laos and the northeastern provinces of Thailand like Yasothon and Roi Et, no aerospace engineer is needed to make rockets fly. Spectators will gather to see the master creators of rockets, typically monks with skilled knowledge of gunpowder and a good sense of motion in space that’s more than enough to send the rockets hurling upwards to the skies.

Now the much-loved rocket festival or “Boun Bang Fai” returns to the Lao paddy fields – where home-made rockets will be launched. For visitors traveling to Laos in May and June, there’s a good chance you may happen upon the festive and colourful rocket processions.

The festival marks the annual growing season in Laos, as the monsoon season is expected in June. Ahead of the ploughing period, the farmers send up the rockets skywards to please and remind the God of Rain to send enough to nourish the paddy fields.

Lao folks leave their routine work a few days before the launch day. Then led by local monks, who are counted on for genius rocket engineering, gunpowder gets put inside a long pipe before firing them in the empty field.

The smaller rockets are fancier in the way they  shoot up into the heavens while the large ones don’t even look like they’re capable of flight. The higher the rockets go, say the locals, the more rain will come down. But it’s no guarantee every rocket shoots upward as the God of Rain may have the last word.