Happy Birthday to the King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, also known as King Rama IX, whose 85th birthday was celebrated yesterday! Thai people love their King, so I knew the celebrations would be big as here it is a national holiday, as well as Fathers Day.
The day time was spent catching up on things like washing and food shopping, and I also went to Phattalung with Madam and Teacher Pen so that they could buy a yellow shirt to wear that night. Yellow (see luang in thai) is the colour for the King, and was worn by everyone! Luckily I had a yellow dress that Madam had bought me when I first arrived here.
The night time celebrations were held in the Mattayom (Secondary) school in Khaochaison, right next to where Teacher Lee, Nonku and the new teacher Chay all live (and they are all from South Africa and teach English at the secondary school.) So I rode my moped over to them and we walked to the school from there. As we arrived we were given candles and pieces of paper shaped like a heart and told to write our names. I still don’t really know why but we did. Then we posed with lots of students, both mine and secondary, as they were all excited to see the farang (western) teachers out!
On the school field a huge stage had been erected with a screen behind that was showing the Kings Birthday speech. For 85, he looked good! Wish I could have understood it, but everyone at the school seemed very moved by it. We got hungry and there was lots of stuff we didn’t understand, so we left briefly to go get dinner at the local place we always seem to end up in. I had crispy fried pork with morning glory (a green leaf.)
When we returned the night was getting interesting, students ran up to us to tell us and help us light the candles we were given earlier. Then a tonn of fireworks went off, and it was a really good display. Afterwards students from all the schools nearby performed dances, once again in different costumes with lots of makeup on! Even 3 year old nursery students did a thai dance of their own and looked fabulous!
After all the dances everyone watching was invited on to the field and we were all given huge chinese lanterns, to light using the candles. This was by far the best bit and most magical part of the evening. Hundreds of lanterns filled the sky with peoples wishes. I’d never done it before so it was really nice to be part of such a huge group sending them off at the same time. Welit many lanterns that evening and helped the students. Also the cameras seemed to like us and we kept being filmed for the big screen and we were constantly invited to join in with the next lighting of each lantern!