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Singing to the King of Thailand

Now I am getting ready to go to the ceremony in honor of the King’s birthday being held in our hotel. It is important that we pay our respects and honor the King as a thank-you for our enjoyable stay in his country.

So at 7:19 pm we set out for the lobby to honor the King. A big space had been set up for all the guests (about 50) and something similar to what I would call an altar had been set up to the King. It consisted of several long white and gold tables stacked up about four feet high.

On the top table was a large photo of the King in a very ornate frame. This is the same photo we have seen throughout our time in Thailand—in restaurants, on billboards, at traffic circles, at the entrance to the beach, and on many buildings. As I said, he is turning 86 but this photo looks like it was taken when he ascended to the throne at age 19.

Also on the “altar” were many flowers and the flag of Thailand. Next to the altar was a large TV screen broadcasting the ceremonies taking place on Bangkok. We imagine the entire country is pausing at the same time.

When the ceremony was to start, we were asked to stand and face the photo. The hotel staff stood in the front row and we were behind them. Then we were each given a sheet with the words to a song we would sing and a candle, which the staff lit one by one. Once all the candles were lit, we watched the televised ceremony from Bangkok with speeches by the Prime Minister and other dignitaries. Finally the speeches ended and we all joined together in song–”Kor de cha ong phar pha muk phummiphol Mingkwan Poungchon….” and so on. At the end of the song, the candles were extinguished and everyone started to leave, big smiles on their faces.

The “altar” was still there this morning, the King’s youthful face looking out at us as we left.

Extracted from Traveling with Elizabeth – EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES AROUND  THE WORLD. Now available from Amazon.

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