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Thursday, October 26, 2017

FABULOUS FALL FANTASY: Day 13--The Royal Cremation

Two days ago I provided some introductory background on the Royal Cremation of former King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX, who passed away on 13 October 2016.  While he served for 70 years, interestingly enough, he is only #18 of longest reigning monarchs, #1 being Sobhuza II (right) of Swaziland with almost 83 years.  However, he was only 4 months old when he ascended.  

Queen Elizabeth II is currently #41 as she approaches 66 years.  Here she is with Bhumibol and son Vajiralongkorn, now King, Rama X, to the left.

King Vajiralongkorn led the major processions:


While the temperature will only go up to 92F, it will be brutally sunny.  Here is my hotel view when I awoke this morning;


While today, Thursday, is the national holiday, Friday could well be as important a ceremonial day.  These processions continue until Sunday.  While only 110,000 will be allowed into the royal venues, another 200,000 will be camped at every other conceivable view site.  

Royal families from 16 countries will be represented.  The American royalty?  Well, Thailand is under military rule, so our representative is, appropriately enough, General James Mattis, Secretary of Defense.

I chose not to be part of the crowd, and instead switched channels between the ceremonies and the World Series, where at this moment it is 5-5 in the tenth inning.  Here is my room lunch.  At my age, under those conditions, with my professed desire to enjoy life in comfort, I'm satisfied watching everything on television in my air conditioned room.  Frankly, after experiencing a full afternoon on Tuesday with this mass of humanity under sweltering conditions, I do worry about many who shouldn't be out there.

After awhile--you can only watch so much of a protracted cremation--I decided to take a break and enjoy a joyride on the Sky Train to see what was happening in town, for all public transportation is free today.  Here is the Plaza Athenee' from Ploenchit Station:


To my cultural shock, everyone was in black, except me:


As I sat down, in shorts and short sleeve, I noticed that the train was at around 30F, warming a bit when the doors opened to waft in the hot air.  I decided so much for a long train ride and freeze.  I decided to return to the hotel to see that the road was closed:


There were police and soldiers all over the place, and only after a few gesticulations, did they allow me into my hotel:


I went in and was not allowed to use the elevators because there was royalty from six countries staying here, including Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, and they were about to leave for the ceremonies.


After a half hour wait, I finally made it back to my room and took a bath with a glass of white wine.  On TV, here is the Royal Family, with King Maha Vajiralongkorn to the right.  He is in red, while the Buddhist priests are clad in saffron, about the only exceptions to black.


As this is around 5PM, I gather they will sit around for another five hours, moving on occasion to pay their respects.  The fire will be lit in the Royal Crematorium at 10 PM.

In the meantime, thoughout the country, citizens are placing sandalwood blossoms at the 85 Royal Crematorium replicas

At 6PM I went to our Executive Lounge to see if there was sufficient sustenance for dinner.


Here you ordered drinks from a bar.  I started with a gin martini on rocks with two olives and a Thai meal with Singha Beer:


My first Thai cuisine on this trip.  I liked everything, and decided to have a second course of salad, dessert and a cappuccino:


The interesting item was jack fruit (that yellow piece to the left).  Can't remember my last experience with this delicacy.  Kind of like a combination of a half ripe mango and mountain apple.  Crunchy and sweet.

I've now been watching the Royal Cremation for three hours, and haven't yet caught a glimpse of General Mattis.  He was not in the front row, so that says something.

I recall Pearl just pained by those Buddhist chants, which went on and on on TV.  One reason why I never had a funeral for her was because it would be Buddhist.  I, too, could only stand so much, so I changed the channel after this final shot of the Royal Cremation (which still has three hours to go), topped by what appears to be a quarter-Moon:

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The latest data shows Tropical Storm Saola moving somewhat east of Japan, so our conjunction over Narita on Monday now seems less probable.  Whew!!!



However, just a 10 degree turn north and we meet.

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