BANGKOK – Hundreds of thousands of Thais from across the country have traveled to Bangkok this week in order to get an opportunity to witness first-hand the Royal cremation ceremony for late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
The highly-orchestrated cremation ceremony of Thailand’s late King and the world’s longest-serving monarch Bhumibol, Rama IX, will be held on Oct. 26.
However, since the beginning of the week, people from various provinces have made their way to the Sanam Luang Royal ground, opposite the Grand Palace, where a majestically-designed crematorium had been constructed.
Vichien In-o-soth, 67, a corn farmer from Phetchabun province, arrived at Sanam Luang on the evening of Oct. 23 along with his wife.
They did not have a place to stay for the night.
Their plan was to ask for a few nights of sleep at the nearby Mahathat temple, just a short walk away from Sanam Luang, as they had brought their own sleeping bags and hammocks.
“We drove from Phetchabun this morning and parked our car at Don Muang airport,” said Vichien, who added that the airport has opened free parking during the week to accommodate people from upcountry traveling to the capital.
The inner historic Rattanakosin Island area will be closed off for the ceremony on Wednesday through to the weekend.
“I have paid tribute to His Majesty’s urn in the Grand Palace twice before,” he told EFE-EPA on Monday.
Vichien met with a group of people who arrived on the same day from the northeastern province of Buriram at the bus stop in front of Thammasat University, just across the Sanam Luang ground.
After chatting, they learned that all of them had no place to sleep that night.
Despite this and having no relatives to stay with in Bangkok, a group of three women from Buriram in their 60s, were not deterred in making their way to the Thai capital.
“Even if there is no place for me to sleep tonight, I am not going anywhere,” Samai, a 62-year old widow from Buriram, told EFE-EPA on Monday.
“I have prepared a month in advance to travel here. I got new clothes among other things,” said Samai.
Petcharin Nantawong, 50, a corn seller in Rangsit, Pathumthani province, also met with the group at the bus stop.
Despite living just a mere 30 kilometers from Bangkok, Petcharin was determined to stay in the ceremonial area ahead of the cremation on Thursday because she was hoping to get the closest glimpse of the cremation events, as much as possible.
“If I arrive on the cremation day, I might not be able to get close access to the ceremonial ground,” she said.
“There are also these crematorium replicas elsewhere in Bangkok and other provinces for the people to attend the royal cremation without having to travel to Sanam Luang, but it is not like the real one here,” she said.
“I want to send the late King, our father, to heaven for the last time,” Petcharin added.