The Thais love their Royals. Deeply, utterly and unquestioningly. It is hard to travel more than a few hundred metres down the street in Bangkok without seeing a photo of the king or his wife, usually a flattering portrait of the king being king-like, with the photo surrounded by lights, a fancy frame and various bric-a-brac intended as a small sacrifice to him. In a nation where most of its citizens observe Buddhism, it seems that there is a second revenential figure that rivals Buddha's rotund figure.
They also love the national anthem, something I saw demonstrated in full voice on Monday. After misreading the Lonely Planet guide which indicated that the most incredible market, complete with live animals for sale, took place in the northern part of Bangkok. Saturday and Sunday only. Do'h. So instead, I retreated to a nearby park, with a nice pond - including live animals, though not for sale, sadly - and some Thai people hanging around being Thai. In complete serenity (The Castle style) I relax and read the Bangkok Post. Then at the strike of 6pm, blaring from the loudspeaker comes a short announcement in Thai, and everyone stands to attention, including the poor folks who call this small park their home. Out of the speaker comes what I presume was the Thai national anthem, with vocal accompanyment from the assembled crowd. Can you imagine the same at home? The indifference would be overwhelming.