Thais looking forward to His Majesty the King’s birthday

Thousands of Thai people have arrived in the seaside town of Hua Hin in Prachuap Khiri Khan to get the opportunity to catch the glimpse of His Majesty the King on his 86th birthday on Dec 5.

The Royal Household Bureau announced that a royal audience will be granted at Rajpracha Samakhom Pavilion in Klai Kangwon Palace at 10.30am on a live broadcast. Members of the royal family, civil servants and royal guards will gather to wish His Majesty the King a happy birthday.

Hundreds of well-wishers have lined both sides of Phetkasem road leading to Klai Kangwon Palace. Some of them have brought maps and tents as they intended to sleep overnight there. Some people even arrived on Monday.

Wichien Trangan, 74, a resident of Chumphon’s Muang district, said she left her house at 6am Wednesday and arrived in Hua Hin at 11am. She immediately reserved her place and will spend a night there despite the hardship as she viewed that His Majesty experienced much more difficulties when he travelled around the country.

Anurak Wangthaweelap, 65, a resident from Thung Song district of Nakhon Si Thammarat, has joined a biking team to ride from his province to Hua Hin, a distance of more than 600km. A total of over 100 bikes set off on Nov 30 and arrived in time to celebrate the birthday.

He said he had joined the long-distance bike ride for the past four years to pay tribute to the King and be part of his subjects giving him moral support.

Mr Anurak said he saw the King for the first time 56 years ago when he was a student in Songkhla’s Hat Yai district as the King travelled by train and visited his school. 

A retiree from the Royal Irrigation Department, Nattakan Sathithanatham, 68, a resident in Nonthaburi, has travelled to Hua Hin for the first time with 21 neighbours to join the celebration. She said she appreciated His Majesty’s initiatives in many projects related to water, so she would follow him any where until she could no longer do it.

The Transport Ministry is arranging special trains and buses to Hua Hin as people are flocking to the seaside town to celebrate His Majesty the King’s birthday on Thursday.

A train carrying 760 passengers will leave Hua Lumphong station at 4.30am and arrive in Hua Hin four hours later. The return trip will depart the town in Prachuap Khiri Khan at 9.30pm and return to Bangkok at 00.30am on Friday.

It is in addition to eight regular southern trains which run daily from Bangkok, State Railway of Thailand governor Prapat Chongsanguan said.

Transport Co managing director Wutthichart Kallayanamit said the firm is increasing public van services from Bangkok to Hua Hin from 390 to 570 trips on Wednesday and Thursday. The vans leave from Victory Monument and the southern bus terminal. 

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) on Wednesday ordered all mobile phone operators to increase signal strength for mobile phones in order to accommodate the large crowd expected to arrive in Hua Hin on the King’s birthday from Wednesday to Friday, according to secretary-general ThakornTantasit.

Thailand Post Co has invited the public to send their message to the King via its application “iPost-a-Card” available on smartphone until Dec 31. All messages will be printed on real postcards and submitted to His Majesty. A new stamp collection will also be released on Thursday.

There will also be a display of 30,000 fireworks from five boats anchored offshore so all people visiting Hua Hin beach can watch the display up close.

Also in Bangkok, political tension has been eased just ahead of the big event. Anti-government protesters at Ratchadamnoen Avenue have jointly helped to clean up their protest site on Wednesday morning. The avenue has been glittering at night with hunderds of thousands of tiny light blubs.

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