Long live the king?

Ok, so in Holland we have a queen who is nice and friendly, visiting schools and stuff, doing some hand-shaking from time to time and making sure she wears a different hat for each occasion. In other words, we don’t mind having her as long as she doesn’t say or does too much… In Thailand, the vision on His Royal Highness is a different story… (same same, but different… ;-) ).

The king is almost considered as somebody holy by the Thai people. We had the “luck” of arriving just after his 80th birthday so the whole country is covered with his pictures and people wear yellow t-shirts (the Thai national color) with “Long live the King” on it. It all looks quite funny and innocent, but in practice it implies much more than seeing his pictures all over the country and wearing a yellow t-shirt.

As an example, it isn’t possible to “lick” the king. If in other countries of the world we are used to licking our stamps so their glue gets released, in Thailand this isn’t a possible thing to do, as the king is somebody considered holy who shouldn’t be touched (especially not his head, as the head is very important for Thai people and should never be touched in general). So that means we cannot touch or retouch his pictures and not lick any stamps if his head is on it which would be a serious offense in the eyes of Thai people. Only problem: almost every stamp has his head on it! :-/ And you would think that the Thai are more intelligent than that and would only make “sticker-stamps” but no… They still have the good ol’ “have-to-lick” stamps! ;-)

Or at the cinema. We went to see a movie in English at an ultramodern cinema in Bangkok. So they show us some previews, some advertisements and then all of a sudden: the national anthem with pictures of the king all over the screen! And that’s not it! No, no, no! It’s not as easy as that! You have to stand up to pay tribute to the king… Great! So all the people in the room got up, which was especially ironic in this case, as there were only foreigners. :-)

But the most crazy example and a thing that gets us by surprise every time again, is that at 8 AM and 6 PM, at public places, the national anthem is played and it is absolutely expected that you drop everything you are doing (this includes eating, speaking, screaming, hanging around, shopping, bargaining… in other words: any activity you could think of…) and stand up in silence to pay tribute to the king. It’s quite a funny sight when you are in the middle of a bargaining process and suddenly the lady stops speaking, stands up and doesn’t respond to you anymore. But as soon as the anthem is over, she will start bargaining again and even more fierce than before!

Ah those Thai! They keep surprising us! :-)

Vera & Jean-Christophe


  1. Posted January 9, 2008 at 19:04 | Permalink

    Hallo Vera en Jaen christoph.
    Zijn jullie een onderzoek aan het doen naar vergelijkingen, het lijkt er wel op. wel leuk gevonden. groetjes mam.

  2. Posted January 11, 2008 at 20:34 | Permalink

    Bonjour à vous!
    Très original. On pourrait imaginer cette façon d’honorer notre président par un nouvel article dans la prochaine Constitution! Et on peut imaginer aussi l’application qui en découlerait un soir à 18h00 place de l’Etoile ou de la Concorde!!!

  3. ivaberthon
    Posted January 13, 2008 at 22:21 | Permalink

    A propos de la derniere rubrique sur votre page d’accueil FAST FACTS, …et le nombre de paires de chaussettes ? Vu les km que vous faites, ça doit en faire un bon paquet déjà, non ? :-)

  4. Posted January 19, 2008 at 1:08 | Permalink

    Bonjour à vous,
    Bravo pour toutes ces photos et commentaires dont vous nous faites profiter. Bonne année à tous les deux !
    Et bon vent, vous avez encore pas mal de chemin à faire !

  5. Vera
    Posted January 19, 2008 at 15:18 | Permalink

    @Ivana: On peut rajouter “Distance a laquelle on sent les chaussetes/chaussures/pieds de Jean-Christophe” et bien sur cette distance augmente au fur et a mesure…


  6. Posted January 21, 2008 at 11:56 | Permalink

    hoi Vera en JC,

    Leuk verhaal over Thailand ;). Veel plezier nog met jullie reis!

    Groetjes Ben

  7. Anke
    Posted January 24, 2008 at 16:31 | Permalink

    Hallo Vera,

    hört sich an als hättet ihr sehr viel Spass… :-))

    Muss unbedingt was zum Kino sagen. Bei den Amis hier in Deutschland ist das auch so. Also die spielen die Hymne und zeigen die Flagge auf der Leinwand und alle müssen aufstehen und salutieren… ok, sind Soldaten… aber auch hier: same same, but diffrent…LOL

    Wünsche euch noch viel Spass und Gesundheit auf eurer tollen und faszinierenden Reise… Weiter so, das Lesen macht mir immer wieder sehr viel Spass.

    Liebe Grüße, Anke