TLK – Thai love king

After having spent a week in Thailand recently, there was one thing (except for all the stupid tourist costumes) that stuck with me – the thai people’s total embrace of their king. I’ve never seen anything like it in any other country. Everywhere you go there will be huge pictures of the king, outside stores, at schools, in hostels, at the local shop and so on. Maybe it has something to do with the strict laws that surround the monarchy in Thailand. If caught critizising the king, you can end up spending from three to 15 years in prison.

But a lot of the people I spoke to still claimed that “thai love king”, and bumper stickers would simply read “TLK”. If that is because thai people cannot say anything else out of fear,  I don’t know. However, it is clear that Rama IX, or Bhumibol Adulyadej, is a very interesting man. Being a nerd, I of course got ridiculously fascinated by this and wanted to know EVERYTHING about him – where he lives, what he does, who will succeed him and what’s his personality like.

First: He plays the saxophone, and has even played with greats like Benny Goodman. He’s the longest reigning monarch in the world, and the wealthiest one. At the age of 84 he has ruled Thailand since 1946. King Rama IX is the only monarch to have taken a patent, on a “sandwich rainmaking patent” according to Wikipedia. Have no idea what that is, but think it’s pretty cool. He’s met Elvis – for which I have picture proof, a poster I bought on the streets of Bangkok….

His son is destined to take over after the king steps down, but according to Bangkok newspapers, most people favoure his daughter, as she is said to have more the philanthropic spirit of her father. During my stay in Thailand there was debate about whether the rules regarding criticizing the king should be changed, because of freedom of speech. The prime minister assured, however, that this was not in the cards.

Photos by me, except last photo, found on the Internet.

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