His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej was born at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the United States of America, at 8.45 a.m. on Monday 5th December 1927. He is the worlds longest reigning king. Today he is turning 87! The ninth king in his dynasty, he is revered, loved and worshipped by the entire country.
What better way to spend our first day in Thailand than to be a part of his Birthday celebrations. In Thailand the Kings birthday is also Father’s Day. Also fitting as it is my first time in over 20 years I have gotten to spend a significant amount of time with my dad.
Steve and I started the day by going for a morning walk around the neighborhood. We had so much fun buying food from the street stalls and meeting the local merchants. My favorite snack of sticky rice and BBQ chicken runs me 20 baht. Roughly .60¢. We then pop into the local 7/11 to get iced coffee and a mocha frappe. Even in a language I can not read I manage to find a 10 baht per drink coupon, making our drinks a whole 25 baht each. I’m a coupon cutter even in foreign lands!
All 7 of us then get dressed to go to a traditional Thai restaurant to celebrate Father’s Day. As it is the kings birthday it is also customary to wear yellow. The color that represents Monday the day of his birth.
We had a giant feast of foods that bursted with flavor. I do not normally like spicy foods, I think it often times masks the flavors of a dish, by making you focus on the burning of your mouth instead of enjoying your meal. This was not the case. Our noses were running from the spiciness but we could not stop eating as the food was so amazing. The whole fried fish was topped with a shredded fried lemon grass and a sauce that eaten all in one bite was euphoric! Alone the fish was bland but eaten in the way it was designed was a finely crafted symphony in my mouth. All of the dishes were wonderful but this fish stole the show.
After lunch we stopped by a large mall. From the street it looked like your average store. Inside was a giant 7 story mall with every American brand you can name. I got a traditional mens Thai outfit at Build a Bear for 99 baht roughly $3. As we only stopped into the mall so I could use the restroom so we had to press on. Thinking that Bangkok is this giant city full of thousands of people all wearing the same color I found it amazing that we ran into my step moms sister and nephew at the mall. What a wonderful surprise!
My dad then dropped us off right in front of Sanam Luang park. Smack dab in the middle of all the action of the day. Since he and Yupadee are not big fans of giant crowds they returned home wishing us good luck and to call if we couldn’t find our way back home at the end of the night. I was so excited! The hordes of people lining the street waiting for the parade was energizing. The entire gated park had been turned into a massive exhibit of the Kings life work. Everything was written in both Thai and English. We were given passports to stamp at each of the exhibits to turn in to receive a free yellow T-shirt. It was an extremely daunting undertaking to get all of the stamps so we got a few and happily retired the idea. The stage was set up with the Grand Palace as a backdrop. With the sun setting behind it the view couldn’t have been more perfect. The people were so friendly! People made room on their lawn coverings so we could join them when we were looking for a place to sit. Everyone wanted to take photos with Sierra holding the Thai flag and Kings flag. We also enjoyed meeting a young man who reminded me of a young Thai version of my dad (he has the same long face as my dad as well). He was so adorable, with his Austrailian accent. He was a member of the Royal national guard, tasked with protecting the King, a very honorable job in Thailand. If Sierra was older we could have made a match! Just kidding, Sierra.
We then decided to start to walk out of the park and over the river as it was becoming impossible to move 2 feet in the hot humidity without being pressed up onto a stranger. When we reached the top of the bridge crossing the Chao Phraya River the fireworks began. The major expressway was at a complete stop with everyone filling the street to watch the fireworks and celebrate the birth of The King.
After the fireworks at the bottom of the bridge we manage to hail a cab among the chaos, with a lot of help from an extremely friendly beautiful young girl. I showed her my little map and pointed to my dads neighborhood, she told the driver in Thai where to take us. When we were in eyesight of the 7/11 I could direct him the rest of the way. He was amazing! The cab driver drove us out of the chaotic crowded traffic with such precision and speed I was extremely impressed! All for 65 Baht and a 10 Baht tip! A whole $1.30!!! A trip I would have happily paid $40 for in San Francisco.
It was a wonderful day to honor a wonderful man! Happy Birthday King Bhumibol Adulyadej!