Bangkok is always teeming with people. It is a city of 8 million, according to wikipedia, I saw over 5 million on some other site. Regardless, there are a lot of people in this city. This past Thursday though was a momentous time in history, and the city was brimming with people dressed all in black. The Thai people showed up in record numbers on the streets and in public transit areas all going to the procession or their temples to pay their respects to the King they all loved. The BTS skytrain and the MRT subway were free for the day in Bangkok to accommodate everyone.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away a year ago and the whole country went into mourning. For one year this tradition lasts until the day the remains of the King are cremated. Many tears were shed one year ago when the news of the King's passing was announced. But again on Thursday people openly cried in the streets during the ceremonies.
To be a witness to a sea of black in a city so large was something I don't think will happen in most people's lifetimes. I was on my way to Thailand when the King passed last year and everyone wore black. This time I was fortunate enough to have friends remind me to dress all in black for the day. This was a way to honor and respect their traditions. I was so humbled to be asked to be a part of the tradition and not just an outside observer. I was among the people dressed all in black. I was a part of the culture, not like all the foreigners who stuck out like sore thumbs on this unbelievable day. You could literally tell who all the foreigners were, these colorful little pinpoints in the black mass. I was among a whole country of people who truly loved, respected and miss their King. The population of Thailand is over 68 million people, all of which were aware and witnessing or paying their respects not only in Bangkok but in many other provinces around the country. There were sites designated in many different locations for mourners to lay funeral flowers and pay their final tributes. How powerful to see a nation come together for one man they all admired and respected in their own way and for their own reasons.
To be in this country and witness a truly historical day was awe inspiring. I'm not sure if any of the news in the U.S. even covered the event. Remember there is a whole big world out there, and yet one person can be loved, admired and influential to so many. Be kind to one another, respect one another, be a good influence.