The Kingdom of Thailand 
celebrates the birthday of
His Majesty, 
King Bhumibol Adulyadej

December 5, 1998

There are few individuals in this world that are as loved and revered by a people as  HM, King Bhumibol of Thailand.  Thais genuinely love their king, and his birthday is always cause for great celebration.  The party this year was particularly festive as it occurred the day before the Opening Ceremonies of the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games.  
Listen to audio coverage
of the festivities

It was an eclectic celebration that included a long parade, a touching candle light ceremony and other kinds of 'touching' entertainment spectacles.
125a.jpg 12441.jpg 12569.jpg

Things began around 5:00pm with a parade which included people from every imaginable walk of life.  Every fifth group or so would be ushered into to interior of the fairgrounds for best viewing of the main ceremony.
12518.jpg 1256.jpg 1252.jpg
12510.jpg 12517.jpg 125c.jpg

After the parade, as people gathered along the outer perimeter, ladies appeared with big blue garbage bags full of these Styrofoam meals.  Shortly thereafter, candles started being passed back from the interior of the fairground.
12538.jpg 12534.jpg 12530.jpg

The crowd was estimated at more than 1/2 million people.  Most crowd control was taken care of young people is Scout uniforms.  When barriers needed to be hastily reinforced, groups of scouts would appear and join hands. 
12532.jpg 12521.jpg 12533.jpg

 At 8:00pm the main ceremony began.  The Prime Minister and other government officials appeared on the main stage with His Majesty.  They made a few brief remarks and then lead a huge candlelight chorus in singing the King's Anthem...
12554.jpg 12523.jpg 12441.jpg

...and when that was finished, one very serious fireworks show began.  It lasted for less than ten minutes but produced an extraordinary symphony of light.  Everywhere you looked, fireworks were going off.  The Grand Palace made a particularly stunning backdrop.
12579.jpg 12544.jpg 12546.jpg12545.jpg

Shortly after the fireworks, performances began of four different stages - everything from Thai Dancing to Chinese opera to the latest pop stars. There were also a few street performer types, including this older gentleman who did some magic and stick twirling.
12572.jpg 12551.jpg 12527.jpg
12570.jpg 12547.jpg 12576.jpg

By far, the most popular attraction was Muay Thai (Thai style boxing). Each bout matched a Thai fighter against a visiting European.  There is nothing gentle about this sport, but afterwards, when we spoke to some of the fighters, they were quite friendly - with each other and with fans who'd gathered around them.
Before each bout in Muay Thai, the fighters perform a ritual movements of religious significance.  (I'll see if I can find out more about the meaning behind this ritual at the Games) 12563.jpg 12560.jpg
12561.jpg 12568.jpg 12566.jpg

Asianbridges would like to wish His Majesty a very happy and healthy 71st birthday and thank the people of Bangkok for throwing such a great party.
For more information about HM, King Bhumibol, visit one of these sites:

You'll need to have Real Player installed, in order to hear the audio.  If you don't already have it, you can download it for free by clicking on the Real Player icon . If you need any help downloading Real files, click here.