By THE NATION
HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who has graciously allowed the second “Un Ai Rak” Fair to be held at the Royal Plaza and Sanam Sua Pa, officially opened the fair at 3.30pm yesterday. The fair will go on until January 19.
Also present at the fair’s opening were HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha and HRH Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana, who inspected the fair’s exhibition after His Majesty pressed a button to unveil the fair as an opening gesture.
The King led the 39km “Un Ai Rak: Bike for Love and Warmth” bicycle ride at 5pm, with thousands of people standing along the route hoping to catch a glimpse of the monarch. The bike route ran from the Royal Plaza to Lat Pho Park in Samut Prakan and back. City police temporarily blocked off key Bangkok roads, including Rajdamnoen Avenue, Charoen Krung, Suk Sawat and Phitsanulok Road, from 2pm.
While security at the cycling event was tight, Immigration Police Bureau chief Maj-General Surachate Hakparn affirmed that officers were ready to facilitate both Thais and foreign tourists participating in the ride in Bangkok. Immigration officers were also on standby at Dusit Police Station. Surachate urged people to wear appropriate clothing and beware of pickpockets in the crowd.
Uttaradit was bustling from the morning, as an estimated 6,000 people began gathering at City Hall, many wearing commemorative yellow shirts, ready for the 29km ride. Among them was 65-year-old Prasopsak Sornlam, who had already cycled 60km from his home in Pichai district, starting out at 6am, and five-year-old Plairung Akarapitak, joined her family in the ride.
In Chiang Mai, some 10,000 people registered for the 27km ride from the International Exhibition and Convention Centre, passing various attractions before returning. Provincial health official Dr Thoranee Kayee said 10 ambulances, 26 first-aid bikes and 40 medical personnel were ready if needed, and participants could undergo health checks and get medical advice before heading off.
In Lampang, 5,400 people had registered for a 29km ride from the Government Complex.
Meanwhile, the King’s sister Princess Ubolratana expressed her support for the “Un Ai Rak: Bike for Love and Warmth” cycling event by posting photographs of herself in cycling gear via her Instagram account, #nichax. The princess captioned one photograph, saying she had led a group on bicycles at 5.25am on Sunday to scout the “Bike for Love” route and help chase the rain away.