Thailand’s long reigning King, Bhumibol Adulyadej, has just passed away. Flags are at half mast, the country is grieving. They’ve reported that there will be a one year period of mourning. Accolades of respect are pouring in from the Worlds leaders for the man, much beloved by his people, who was the reigning Monarch for the last 70 years.
Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn is to be the Kings successor. Not nearly as highly regarded as his father, the Crown Prince has painted his own picture as an eccentric, jet-setting playboy rife with scandals. His poodle Foo Foo somehow held a senior rank in the Royal Air Force as Chief Marshal. Maybe more worrisome is that the Crown Prince holds close ties to exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who is suspected of funding a militant group opposed to the current Thai government. There is concern that with the succession of the Crown Prince could also come a military dictatorship.
Places in Bangkok are closing early, liquor sales are being reigned in, places of entertainment are being told to tone it down, some monuments and historical buildings may be closed to the public. Security across the country has been heightened and a visible presence of military guard is in place to thwart those who may try to take advantage of the current situation.
So with the somber grieving of the country’s people, the heightened security, possibly closed monuments and a large risk of political instability and potential violence, I would think this is most likely not the best time to visit Thailand.
Our vision of landing in Bangkok and stomping down Khao San Road in our bender boots and dgaf vacationing attitudes will now be replaced with careful tread and a solemn respect for the current climate. It’s definitely an unexpected turn of events right before embarking on this trip.
It could be interesting to be in the mix of things during this transition period for Thailand and witness it on the ‘ground level’ sort of speak. I guess we’ll just have to gauge the situation when we get there and feel out the vibe as we go.