Yesterday was a very important day for the Thai people. It was the birthday of their beloved King, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. At the not incosiderable age of 80 it was an important year for both King and country.
In respect for his majesty the Thai nation sported yellow shirts, flags and other apparel and took to the streets in their hundreds of thousands. For many months now the nation has been practising a song composed especially for his majesty. At an appointed time last night (I believe it was 8pm) the entire nation stopped to sing the King's song and to hold a yellow candle aloft in respect to all he has done for the nation.
Bizarely I was dining in a French restaurant called Le Bouchon which is off the beaten track so to speak, at the end of Surawongse Soi 2. For those who know, that Soi is part of Pat-pong and is one of the less salubrious soi's in Silom. During dinner the street, which is bordered by many rather unpleasant bars (topless pool was one that caught my eye ...,) became full of the staff (and clientele) from these bars. By 8pm the street was full. Awash with yellow and high on anticipation. Every radio and TV in the vicinity was placed in the street and turned up as loud as it would go. The dignitaries speeches and celebrations were literally reverberating through the windowpane.
Everyone wore their yellow shirts and carried their yellow candles in a very proud and passionate display of their unwavering love for Thailand's monarch.
What an extraordinary sight it was. What a wonderfully rich and poignant clash of faith and the faithful.
The congregation paid their deserved respects, they sang together as a nation and then as quickly as they had congregated they dispersed, back to work in Bangkok's Pat-Pong.
Those that worked in a topless bar I assume would have had to take their shirts off straight away, but it seemed that many were eager to keep their yellow shirt on as it is speaks for them and about them in a way that words do not.
I felt honoured to be a viewer of such an important event in the Thai calendar and hope that it was a very happy birthday for all concerned.
Picture credit; http://www.thaiphotoblogs.com/