What It’s Like To Be In Bangkok After the Death of HM The King Bhumibol Adulyadej
The hustle and bustle of Bangkok remain, but the once-colorful city has become a greyscale place where all are mourning the passing of their beloved king, His Majesty The King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
At 88 years old, he was the longest reigning constitutional monarch in history. During much of his 70-year reign, he worked hard at improving the quality of life for thai people. He went where no other monarch of Thailand had ever gone, to the countryside and to the southern provinces, touching all corners of the country that was under his rule.
“There seemed no end to the good works in which King Bhumibol was involved,” reports The Telegraph. “They ranged from lettuce farms and cottage industries such as silk or cotton weaving to dams, schools, clinics and even rain generation plants. The King himself led development programmes in the poorest parts of the country and funded many of them from his own private funds. Successful projects would be passed on to the government for further development.”
King Bhumipol also had a registered patent for the Chai Pattana Aerator Model RX 2, which is used to treat polluted water in Thailand. The King also chose to not live an extravagant lifestyle, and even used his own wealth to fund community projects.
Because the King was so dedicated to his people, the mourning of his death is genuine throughout the country. Out on the streets, most people are wearing black, some are wearing white or other greyscale colors, but everyone is somber. This sorrowful mood can be felt everywhere. The day after his death, barely anyone was talking to each other. People were getting teary-eyed, and some even burst out crying on public transportation. Everyone seemed like they were still in shock and, when the days allowed reality to set in, the love they had for the King was very much apparent.
A huge crowd gathered mid-October outside Grand Palace and sang the royal anthem. It was incredibly moving to see everyone get together and support each other through the difficult time.
All vendors I’ve seen so far have took away their floral and colorful clothes selections and replaced with black and white options only. Parks, shopping centers, billboards, and public transportation took down almost all forms of advertisement and replaced them with black-and-white pictures of the King. TV doesn’t show anything besides information about the King’s life. Concerts, marathons, fun runs, all cancelled. Places popular for their nightlife suddenly got quiet, although recently they were given the “okay” to party behind closed doors. Most Halloween parties were cancelled. No shows, including Muay Thai, for at least a month. Lumpinee and Rajadamnern had to close its doors to show respect.
Help centers started asking the public to donate old clothes of any color following a shortage of black clothes. They dyed the clothes black and distributed them to people who couldn’t afford to buy new clothes. Black ribbon pins were also distributed for everyone to wear to show that they are mourning the death of the King.
The Muay Thai King’s Cup, which is held every year in honor of the King’s birthday, was up in the air following his death. But officials are making the King’s birthday, December 5th, a national holiday. That day falls on a Monday this year, so the weekend preceeding it will be full of Muay Thai shows to honor His Majesty.
As a foreigner, there’s not too much that SHOULD be said regarding the King because we don’t know the full extent of how much the Thais loved King Bhumibol. Likewise, foreigners should refrain from talking about what will happen to the country after the mourning period. True, we can have an idea from the outpour of emotions that can be seen everywhere. We see everything in black and white, magazine and newspaper covers detailing the life and accomplishments of the late King. But none of us, as foreigners, have lived through his reign for our entire lives and seen first hand what he had set out to do for the people. The best thing to do is to offer our condolences, dress and behave respectfully, and allow the Thai people to mourn their loss without interjecting our opinions that were unasked for.
I see articles about foreigners complaining about their vacation being ruined because they don’t get to party or go to some celebration they came for, and to that I say, shut the f*** up and stop thinking you’re the center of the universe. If you really believe that your few days of partying weighs more than the death of a father figure to everyone in Thailand, just leave and never come back.
Although the mourning period will be strongest during the first 30 days, the country will be officially in mourning for the next year – If you plan on going to Thaialdn to train or just visit, keep this in mind. If you’re unsure of what to wear in public, here’s a helpful video: