My heart is deeply touched after these few days in Bangkok joining the events around the cremation of Rama IX.
Apart from the incredible splendour of the processions and ceremonies what really moves me is the kindness and care of the Thai people, their dedication and patience throughout this very special season in their history. It reveals the core values of a country, deeply driven by the Buddhist motivation to share, to give, to offer and to serve. Jai dii mak mak. ❤
Everyone, really everyone helps and supports – starting with month-long preparations of sandalwood flowers for the last offering to being available for any kind of volunteer work in the days of the funeral rites. Thousands of helping hands give out food and drink to the mourners, give advice, ya dom and a helping hand, tell people where to go and queue and collect the trash after them. With hundreds of thousands around Sanam Luang everything is still running super smoothly and peacefully.
People are queuing and waiting, unbelievably silent, humble, friendly. Patiently waiting for a glimpse, waiting for the offering, but mainly just being there, to be part, to be close.
Thousands have slept on the pavement for 2 or 3 nights, cuddled up with friends and family with nothing more than cardboard under them. Others have worked night and day in their home kitchen to prepare food and snacks to give to the ones in line.
“Today is free food outside”, says my massage lady very excited. “Come! Come! I’ll take you!”
Warm words for the interested foreigner everywhere. And there are not many. Khao San Road is swept completely void of the usual tourists. In nearly 20 years visiting this lively quarter sometimes multiple times a year I’ve never seen it that quiet. Kids were actually playing football in the streets, not a single street stall, vendour or even Tuktuk to be seen. The very very few remaining foreigners greet each other one by one shyly, always with the slight doubt if joining the event is really oke.
For Thai people there is no question: They offer friendly explanations and their famous smile with their hearts wide open – always in honour of a great King, who inspired a whole nation for the 70 years of his reign. May his memory always stay alive in the beautiful soul of his people. ???