Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's good to be King

Not Elvis silly! King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand! a few weeks ago it was his 81st birthday (meant to write this post much much earlier!). All of Thailand turns yellow to celebrate it, as that is his colour. It's pretty amazing. Everyone in Thailand loves him. He is almost a religion is his own right. This year, he was too sick to attend hi birthday celebration. His Son and daughter came instead. Some of my friends work at the palace school where the ceremony is held and they said people were devastated. Thai's had travelled from all over the country to see him. People were crying and consoling each other, not because they missed out on seeing him, but because he was sick. That's how much they love him.

He's the 9th Rama of Thailand. He's 81 years old and has been reigning for 60 years! WOAH! That makes him the longest reigning living Monarch. He actually took over from his brother, who died suddenly (and a little mysteriously depending on who you talk to) when he was 20. Rama really is a king of the people. In his younger days, he was actively involved in a lot of charity work and would actually get out to visit they people and see things for himself. He's also a very progressive thinker and helped make Bangkok a little more modern with the introduction on the BTS system. Rama 9 also banned logging in Thailand and since then the forested areas have gone from 20% to 30%. Once they reach 40%, elephants can start being re-released into the wild! He has done so many good things for Thailand.

Oh he's also a great musician and there are several radio station devoted to playing just the music he has composed and performed. He has also help to raise awareness for the plight of soi dogs in Thailand by adopting his very own in the hopes it will encourage Thais to do the same.

Sadly, he spends a lot of his time these days at Hua Hin, an affluent area on the coast. He's been pretty unwell for a while now. He has to use a walker. I am glad I'm leaving Thailand before he dies (fingers cross). His son is quite unpopular with the people. He is apparently a bit of a philanderer. They would rather one of the princesses take the throne as they have continued his charity work and seem to have Thailand's best interests at heart. The law has recently been changed so the princesses can assume the throne so there might be hope for the royal family yet! But there will be immense amounts of grieving is Thailand when the King passes away. If you work for the palace, you have to wear black for a year. Many people in Thailand will do the same to show respect for him. It's very touching.

If you come to Thailand you will see pictures of him everywhere. Every home will have one at the very least. Try to refrain from pointing at pictures of the royal family and don't speak badly about them in public. You could very easily offend a Thai person who overhears you. It's like insulting a member of their family!

After all, he is the father of modern Thailand.

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