I'll tell you what, the Thai's sure seem to love their King! At 82, he's the longest reigning monarch in the world (he's been King for 62 years!) and if he could reign forever, I believe that would be the wish of the Thai people.
His picture is plastered everywhere, on buildings
in the road
at the park
at the templein people's houses and businesses... the list goes one and on. I don't think it's possible to go an entire day here in Thailand without seeing at LEAST one picture of the King (well, he's on all the money to, so there you go!)
As I mentioned before, it's really hard for me to imagine venerating a leader like this. I keep tying to picture monuments to Barack Obama all over the country, or small shrines dedicated to GW Bush in people's homes... and for the life of me, I can't even visualize it.
To me, a King is just a person - albeit a wealthy person who was born into a position of supreme power - but a person nonetheless. What makes him so special?
True or False: His shit stinks just like the rest of us.
True. Case in point.
But the Thai people don't seem to look at it this way at all. They genuinely love the King and hold him in a very high place, almost worthy of worship. While I was visiting the Grand Palace in Bangkok, I saw Thai guide showing some tourists the royal thrones on display and caught him briefly bring his hands together and bow his head before passing by the royal seat - a sign of sincere devotion to his King.
On one hand, I really admire their loyalty and dedication to their leader. It seems to me that the King has had a significant influence on his people's lives and remains a great source of national pride and unity. On the other hand...it's a bit mind boggling to see an entire country so devoted to one man. I guess coming from America, where at any given moment on average less than 1/2 of the people support the President, this is a completely foreign concept to me.
But after spending a month in Thailand, constantly taking in royal and majestic images of the King, I have to chime in with the Thai people - Long Live the King!!