By The Nation
Dressed in a military uniform, His Majesty the King yesterday left Siriraj Hospital for his first personal short trip out of Bangkok in recent years, bringing much delight to the whole nation.
“Long live the King” echoed across the country, during the muchbeloved monarch’s televised trip to Ayutthaya.
Millions of people were glued to their TV sets and rejoiced at the sight of His Majesty. Many of them were moved to tears.
“I love him so much,” Napaporn Thaveethanakij, 76, said from her home in Samut Prakan, tears of joy glittering in her eyes.
A number of people also gathered along the way from Siriraj Hospital, waving flags, to express their love and loyalty to His Majesty. Since being admitted for treatment in 2009, the King has rarely left the medical facility’s compound.
His trip to Ayutthaya’s Thung Makham Yong yesterday, therefore, carried much significance. His subjects were overjoyed as they all wished to see their beloved monarch in good health and with much happiness.
Fine Arts Department deputy directorgeneral Sureerat Wongsangiam said the trip would be recorded in the National Archives of Thailand.
“We will record the details of the trip right from the time the royals left Siriraj Hospital until their return. We will also include photos of people greeting the royals along the way,” she said.
His Majesty, accompanied by Her Majesty the Queen and HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, left Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok at around 4.30pm. The motorcade moved along many roads, including Highway 347, to reach Ayutthaya. Along this 85kilometre stretch, crowds of people waited to greet the beloved royal members.
Thung Makham Yong was filled with people as they flocked in huge numbers to get close to the royals. All 10,000 copies of printed programmes about His Majesty’s trip were taken up in less than 10 minutes.
Several people had camped out at the park since Thursday to make sure they had the best spot to catch a glimpse of His Majesty.
“I travelled from Si Sa Ket because I wished to welcome His Majesty upon his arrival,” said Dusit Jankong, 38, “I stayed overnight around here.”
He has much admiration for His Majesty because the King has been working hard for his people for more than six decades. “Even if he has had health problems, he has still been working,” he said.
Nom Khaohomthoung, 82, said her health was failing but she was determined to camp out at Thung Makham Yong.
“Even if I won’t be able to see the royals, I still feel blessed to have been at the place visited by them,” she said.
The royals reached Thung Makham Yong shortly before 6pm yesterday. Their Majesties the King and the Queen arrived in a van, which stopped at the statue of Queen Suriyothai for them to pay their respects to the late queen. Queen Suriyothai from the Ayutthaya Period fought bravely against an invading army and sacrificed her life defending the Kingdom in Thung Makham Yong.
The King also plans to supervise one of his royally initiated projects. Of the 254 rai in Thung Makham Yong, 180 rai has been used as a watercatchment area to tackle both drought and flood problems in response to the monarch’s monkeycheek concept.
His Majesty, now 84, also added a historic value to Thung Makham Yong when the King and the Queen used a sickle to harvest rice in a local paddy field in 1996.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Ayutthaya Governor Wittaya Phiewphong waited to welcome the royals in Ayutthaya. During the televised trip, Yingluck also presented the King a title deed of the paddy field where Their Majesties had harvested a rice crop in 1996.
“My family and I would like to present the plot that covers 7 rai and 3 ngarn to His Majesty,” Yingluck said.
The King accepted the title deed from her before proceeding into a pondside pavilion, where he watched spectacular shows arranged by many locals and agencies.
The shows started with a parade, which included nine elephants. Splendid boat processions with folk songs and a lightandsound show soon followed.
From the pavilion, His Majesty used his camera to take pictures of the show and his people.
After the performance ended, Their Majesties the King and the Queen as well as the princess moved to the Siriyalai Pavilion for dinner. From this riverside pavilion, the royals could witness the spectacular procession of decorative floats or krathong that flowed down along the Chao Phraya River that were specially prepared for them.
Fine Arts Department deputy director general Sureerat Wongsangiam said the trip will be recorded in the National Archives of Thailand.
“We will record the details of the trip right from the royals leave the Siriraj Hospital till they return. We will also include photos of people greeting the royals along the way,” she said.