Saturday, March 28, 2009

The King and I

I was out of sorts yesterday so I went out to the cinema. I went to Siam Paragon, one of the big flashy malls here.

I got in the lift at the basement level.

Two ‘bomb squad’ men got out on the ground floor.

On the mezzanine floor, two firemen got in. It was only then that I started to wonder if I should abort my plans to go to the cinema. (Though you might not see it on the news, we are still having political demos here – this time, it’s the other side, the red shirts.) The firemen travelled up to the 5th floor with me.

The cinema lobby didn’t look immediately different from normal, though looking back it was busy for a weekday. It took me some time to realise that most of the people were in an assortment of uniforms.

I queued for my ticket. I’m used to living my life in a certain ignorance or maybe it's oblivion; remember this is a foreign country. The subliminal messages don’t always get through because my spoken Thai is pitiful (my reading Thai is non existent) and I can’t perceive the subtle differences that we take for granted in our home country.

There were securities everywhere: security staff, naval uniforms with gold epaulets, army soldiers, (mostly) men in dark suits, police, Paragon security staff and more cinema staff than normal.

I asked the boy on the ticket office 'is someone special here?' He leant forward conspiratorially, motioned with his hand and says ‘the King is over there.’

OMG! Only a few feet away. Only a white sheet and several hundred security staff separated us.

There's an excellent article here from Jonathan Head, the BBC correspondent for this region, who explains why the Thai King is so revered here.








My deduction (the man dressed as an elephant gave it away) was that The King was attending a function to do with a Thai animation film, Khan Kluay 2. The blurb at Movieseer says: ‘Khan Kluay 2 is set after the victory of Ayudhya against the invasion of the powerful Burmese Empire when Khan Kluay is appointed as King Naresuan's royal elephant and services the king in many battles.

18 comments:

DOT said...

You are one of them now! A royal.

I too am a royal. I went to a concert at the Barbican some years ago and for reasons we didn't understand at the time were all ushered in 15 minutes early. The moment the lights went down, a late party arrived. It was Princess Diana.

I am sure she winked at me as she passed.

Debs said...

Wow, mixing with royalty. Does that mean we have to curtsy when we email you?

JJ Beattie said...

DOT! Is that how it works? I always I wanted to be a princess...

Debs, what a fabulous idea! ;-D

SpiralSkies said...

ow, that's so fancy! I can't imagine Old Queen Lizzy popping into the Uckfield Picture House somehow.

You're a princess to us, if it's any consolation.

Tam said...

You mean the elephant wasn't real? Oh, the disappointment!

And get you, hobnobbing with royalty. You'll be sticking your pinky out when you drink yer tea next!

Lane said...

Wow, so close.

That article was very interesting. I had no idea. It's a whole different world.

ChrisH said...

I hope he bought his own ticket. Well, that's quite a claim to fame, not everyone gets to swap popcorn with their monarch.

HelenMHunt said...

You are having an exciting time. Love the elephant.

Flowerpot said...

Blimey - we are honoured!

Susie Vereker said...

Gosh, JJ, how impressive. I didn't know the King went to the cinema.

Fiona said...

Dear Princess JJ...
How exciting.

JJ I loved the photo of the street dogs - you have another talent besides writing.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

How cool! You hung with the king! I think I'd have turned tail and vanished at the sight of all that security.

Isaac Espriu said...

Hah - great post, and great blog!

Kiskadee said...

Hi JJ!
Nice story!But have you noticed that when you get close to kings and queens they appear remarkably... normal?
I once had a meal in the same dining hall as King Carlos of Spain... in an Indian Ahsram! There was no great retinue with him, except some family members. He behaved quite normally, and had no special treatment.
It was a long time ago.

Katy said...

Followed your trail here from the pitch party. Great story! I accidentally drove down a closed-off road once and met the queen coming the other way in her car. We pretended we hadn't seen each other - you know how it is...

Love the photo of the Friday dogs too.

catdownunder said...

I prowled along from the Pitch Party too - Thailand? Hmmm - Royal Siamese Cats of course. Dad's late cousin was in the diplomatic corps. He had a posting there. His kittens taught the Thai kittens how to eat with chopsticks.

JJ Beattie said...

Spiral, you can't see it? I wonder why...

Tam, what do you mean I will be sticking my pinky out next... I do. I'm a classy act, me.

Lane, it is so different. Constantly challenging my idea of what is 'normal.'

Chris, yeah, you know what? I got the feeling he doesn't carry cash.

Helen, mad isn't it?

Flowerpot, did you curtsey then?

Susie, I couldn't work out why they didn't disappear into one of the screens. Why do it in the foyer?

Fiona ... little bit lower with that curtsey, please! Thank you.

Susan, thanks for coming by. I was slightly concerned at the bomb squad men...

Isaac, thank you. Thanks for coming by too.

Kiskadee, thank you. I'm not actually sure that I saw him, though I peered hard while hoping fiercely. Thanks for dropping in.

Katy, wow. I'm impressed. She does drive about on one's grounds, quite a lot. Nice to see you here.

Catdownunder, Lol. Thanks for coming over.

Alexa said...

That is very cool. I used to get stopped to let Dick Cheney's motorcade pass all the time. Huh, not quite so impressive is it?