Ok so this can or at least could be a minefield of a subject with the laws here, but i should be fine. For those not in the know if found guilty of bad mouthing the royals you can do some serious time in the lock up. If you are not Thai it could also get you deported with up to a life ban from return to Thailand
To be honest the Crown Prince, now King Maha Rama 10, has difficult boots to fill so to speak. His father was something else and well loved by the people. Only time will tell how the new king will do. Never easy for anyone who has to take over when their parent has passed. I wish the new king well.
King Rama 9 was a very special man. As non Thais, most of us don’t realise what he did for the people. To get some idea there is a program on YouTube that will give you a better idea. Soul of a Nation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v28koYsdy38
I am sorry its a long video, but its well worth the time. Its a BBC documentary filmed in the 70s with interviews with the King, Queen, the then crown prince and some of the princesses too. Both me and the Mrs enjoyed looking into the life not all got to see.
The King did a lot for the people trying to find ways to help the people to grow and become better able to help themselves and then to improve the country. Not a man to just give money to solve a problem but instead educate the people to be able to first feed themselves and then make some more to sell and make some money.
The people loved him and still do. Considered the father of the country, even to the point that his birthday was Fathers Day.
When he passed it was incredible to see the scenes on tv and also out and about. It was like everyone lost both parents at the same moment. To see the people crying in the streets, then thousands lining the streets from the hospital where he passed to the Grand Palace where he lays in state. There are plenty of videos on YouTube on the subject although most not in English, but just watching will give you a feel for how things are.
For the first 30 days after his death people were asked not to party so as to respect the first month of mourning. Now i saw interviews with tourists, who complained that they could not go clubbing and drinking all hours of the night. OK so i understand that they paid good money to come and visit, but they need to understand that that this was no ordinary time here. I am sure they would not go and pester a friend who had just lost someone close to go clubbing just because it what they wanted.
Most tourists and non Thais who reside here were very respectful and followed the request to wear dark or subdued colours. For the Thais who don’t have much money people were helping them by dying clothes for them into black colour. The other option that well after 100 days can still be seen is the black ribbon. This is normally worn on the left side of the chest or even the left sleeve. Public workers have been asked to wear black colours for one year. When you go past any clothing shops what you will see is mostly black or white. Although members can now by decree wear different colours most still wear monotone colours. Outside of public buildings there are black and white cloth hung out, although its been a while now and in the busier areas they are looking rather dirty, but the feeling and sentiment behind it is still felt 100%
Why should non Thais that live here respect King Rama 9? Simple! Over his long life and reign as king he effected many changes all across the country. He shaped the country to what it is today, the place you want to come on a holiday or even to come and live. Is the country now perfect? No but then tell me a country that is. Many improvements were made and are still being made.
Millions have paid respect to the King, including us. Lots have even been more than once, again including us. Going and paying respects is done for your own reasons and i know that mine was even different to my wife. We went during the early time after his passing and even though we have been 3 times our experiences have changed each time
On our second visit we met this man. He helped us with the kids during the more than 4 hours that we waited from when we got there until after we had been in to pay our respects. This was his seventh visit. He felt that by going and helping others if he could, then he was doing things the way the king would have wanted him to and so he was paying his respects in the right way.
At first the Grand Palace was only open from 8am to about 7pm. This has now changed due to the vast amount of people lined up to pay respect. Now the opening times are almost 24 hours a day and despite this the waiting times have increased! The quickest time we have waited for was just over 4 hours, but the longest was the last time with nearly 8 hours.
Although you would need to take some supplies with you for while you wait, there is a lot of things supplied there and FREE! Not that it is about being free. Water and food is given out and there are other places around the area where you can get different food free. Things to show respect like ribbons and wrist bands are also given out. In the early days there was even free hair cuts and massages. Most of the area is covered for protection from the sun and rain in extreme cases. There is medical care there too. People helping the elderly and disabled too. And even people going round with bags to collect the rubbish walking up and down the lines. I could not help being impressed in how well it is organised.
I hope that has given you a bit of understanding about the Late King and the monarchy.
Until the next blog…. stay safe