Yesterday was a big day in Thailand, mainly because it was the King’s Birthday, and because he is regarded as the father of the country it is also Father’s Day, Mother’s Day falling on the Queen’s Birthday. I think even the most fervent royalist in England would find it hard to imagine the regard with which the King is held here, and his birthday is celebrated here like a royal wedding is in England. Every home and business would have at least one picture of him hanging on the wall.
He is 87 now, and public appearances are rare because of ill health, his audience yesterday was cancelled but that did not stop Thais turning out in droves around Ratchadamnoen Avenue (the Royal Avenue) yesterday to see the Crown Prince, and the thousands of fairy lights decorating the street. I went over to Khao San Road (the legendary backpacker area) nearby to see a friend over here on holiday and unexpectedly got caught in the middle of it ….luckily I had my camera with me, but not the best lens for night photography so I had to push the ISO way up.
One end of Khao San Road was closed off, with a stage and a classical Thai dance show and music sponsored by local businesses, while it was business as usual down the road including the sale of alcohol, which is supposed to be banned out of respect for the King, but widely ignored nowadays it seems (but not at the On Nut market where my local bar was closed ) Although instead of showing the usual EPL football or videos every bar was showing the official ceremony from Sanam Luang, near the Grand Palace.
In Thailand every day of the week has a colour associated with it. Yellow is regarded as the King’s colour because he was born on a Monday, it used to be common for Thais to wear a yellow shirt every Monday until the colour coded political troubles of recent years when yellow became the colour of the PAD “yellow shirts” who closed down the airport a few years ago. This time last year the PDRC were protesting in the streets so I think there were less people prepared to wear yellow for the King’s birthday last year, but this year they were out dressed in yellow as usual.
After the official ceremonies it was time to light candles and pray for His Majesty, and then the fireworks.
On a much less important note to most people here in Thailand, it was also my birthday yesterday. Yes, I made it to the big six-o … sixty years old . Not that it really means much to me, but it’s better than the alternative of not making it to 60, is n’t it ?
Hopefully there are still lots of birthdays to come !