The King and Thai

The King is huge out here. There are posters plastered all over the city of him. You do not under any circumstances say anything bad about him – not because you’re not permitted, but simply because he is so well loved that the Thais would fight anyone who dares speak poorly of him. He is an extremely revered man and is almost seen as a semi-divine figure by many Thais.

A few interesting facts on King Rama IX is that he has been reining the country since 1946 – over 60 years! Interestingly enough he was born in Massachusetts, studied in Switzerland, and took the thrown at 19 (while at the University) after his brother was mysteriously shot. He was responsible for transitioning the country to democracy in the 1990’s among many other things he’s done. He’s getting older and weaker now and I actually cannot imagine how the country will respond once he passes away. His son is nowhere near as loved as his father.

Anyways, the King is so revered that they actually have a shirt out here called the “King’s Shirt”. A basic King shirt is a polo shirt marked with the Kings thrown on the left hand side. It’s pretty much like a country uniform, and Vince and I wear these uniforms at least twice a week.

 King’s Logo

The shirts come in a variety of colors that correspond to specific days. The days of the week in Thai are named after “god” planets, each of which is associated with a particular color, and ancient belief holds that it is auspicious for Thais to wear the color of the day.

Sunday = Red, Good Fortune

Monday = Yellow, Happiness and Joy

Tuesday = Pink, Good Luck

Wednesday = Green, Good Health

Thursday = Orange, Good Luck

Friday = Blue, Good Fortune

Saturday = Purple, Good Fortune

Monday is a particularly important day to wear the appropriate shirt/color because it was the day in which the King was born. I would venture to say that about 50% of the entire population wears the King’s shirt on Mondays and pretty much all the rest are in uniforms.

 Renee in yellow with burberry pattern inside the collar and sleeves.

Monday and Tuesday’s, yellow and pink, are very common to find.  The remaining colors are near impossible to find and it has become quite the scavenger hunt to try and track them down. So far we’ve only located Wednesday’s blue one. More intricate King’s shirts typically involve an embroidered animal design on the right hand side such as bunnies, mice or kittens; or it may simply say “I Love the King”.

Note the rabbit on the left hand side. It says in gold, “Long live the King.”

Sometimes the more elaborate shirts will have a few stripes or different patterns. Remember this pic?   These are both pink King shirts. Vince is sporting the hot pink and striped shirt. 

I think it’s amazing to see such genuine respect for their country and their King. Quite a bit different then the respect we have for our leader, eh?

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~ by The Piersas on June 4, 2008.

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