There is a famous picture of His Majesty with his beloved first ever white elephant named Phra Sawet Adulyadej Phahnon. It’s a male born about 1951, found in a forest in Lam Thap District, Krabi Province in 1956 by my wife’s great-grandfather Pleum Sutthiked (นายปลื้ม สุทธิเกิด). At that time, he was still a young bull attached to his mother in a wild elephant herd. In a perfect world this rare elephant would never leave the forest. But if there is someone who would take good care of an elephant, it is the King. Phra Sawet Adulyadej Phahnon died in 2009 at age 58.
His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej with his first ever white elephant Phra Sawet Adulyadej Phahnon.
When my wife and I visited Ayutthaya Historical Park last year, we ended the day at a restaurant called Ruean Kanya to try out the famous giant river prawns. While sitting along the Chao Praya River, I noticed a building on the other side which I googled later and found out was a church named St. Joseph Church. This lovely little church, bright yellow in color, is the oldest Catholic church in Thailand. It was built in 1666 following a request of the Vietnamese missionaries headed by French Bishop Lambert de la Motte.
Photo credit: ใต้เพิง / trekkingthai.com
There is something fascinating about old photographs. A forgotten time. In this post, I have collected the best early photos from Thailand found on the internet. On page two follows a set of beautiful photos taken in 1966-67 by Fes Cannady — a former draftee who served in Thailand with the US Air Force during the Vietnam War. The bar photos are taken in Korat where the Air Force had its base.
I will start off this year with a sweet story. A few days ago, my wife showed me a picture and told me the story behind the shot. The year is 1955 in Thailand, and a 102-year-old woman has heard that the King would visit her village. Her family brought her to the main road with three pink lotus flowers in her hand. She waited patiently in the front row, from morning to afternoon, hoping to catch a glimpse of the King and his Queen.
The lotus flowers withered in the blazing sun, and when the King finally walked past, the old woman raised her flowers above her head to show her respect. The King bent down to the old lady, smiled, and gently stroked her hand.
The hugely popular King dies at 88 years old in Siriraj Hospital on 13 October 2016. He was, at the time of his death, the world’s longest-serving current head of state, serving for 70 years.
Photo: Mr. Anat Bunnag, Chief Royal Photographer