This is likely to be a very sombre month featuring both the first anniversary of the death of Thailand’s revered King Bhumibo Adulyadej on October 13th, followed by his cremation on the 26th.
What does this mean for the tourist? Well, it’s still not really clear.
The funeral ceremony will take place over a five day period. It was originally thought the the whole week would be a public holiday as Monday 23rd is already a holiday (Chulalongkorn Day) and the cremation is on a Thursday but this isn’t the case with only the 26th specifically designated such.
You’ll see that colours on Thai TV have been toned down to a greyscale tone, many websites have acted similarly while many have reverted to black and white as a mark of respect. Many Thais have changed their Facebook profiles back and white with a black ribbon on the frame. Phuket entertainment venues have been asked to tone down their activities, though I’ve not seen or heard reports of any changes just yet, The Pattaya Police Chief has also made an announcement.
It would not be a surprise if alcohol sales are banned on the 13th and possibly for the 5 day period commencing 23rd October, with the 26th a certainty. Unfortunately the Thai way is to leave such announcements until the last minute. Will Thailand come to a complete halt on the 26th? It’s quite likely, as most Thais will be glued to their TV sets, such was the esteem in which the King was held.
I’m pretty sure we’ll see a return to the dress-code evidenced after the King’s death with Thais mostly wearing black on the anniversary of the death and as the cremation date nears.
But it’s all speculation. Most Thai people have never experienced the funeral of a monarch and there’s certainly been nothing on a similar scale in the TV age, let alone the digital age.
How will this affect tourists, other than potential bar closures? I’d suggest that travel around Bangkok may prove difficult during the lead up to the cremation and on the day itself. Beach resorts will mostly be business as usual but tourists will be expected to act with respect and dignity during this important time for the Thai people. It’s probably not a good idea to hold raucous parties, or dress in outrageously colourful outfits during the period of the funeral but at the same time, tourists are on holiday and won’t be expected to stop enjoying themselves and won’t be expected to wear black, though it might just be appreciated if some do. Just keep an eye on what’s happening and act accordingly. We’re all pretty much in the dark.
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