Thailand

All Hail!

STOP!

An interesting place Thailand.  

It is one of the few remaining monarchies under Rama X. The king is revered and is descended from gods. The Lese-Majeste laws in Thailand are among the strictest in the world.  Not only is it against the law to defame the King and his family, it’s forbidden to speak ill of any former king. People have been prosecuted for criticizing the King’s pet. Anyone can make an accusation and all complaints must be investigated.

It is also the last country in the world to be governed by a military dictatorship. Martial law has been lifted, but the National Council on Peace and Order has formed a new constitution decreeing that whatever rules it makes are legal. New elections are pending.

People, though, generally go about their business. They feed their families, they make their money, they keep their thoughts to themselves. They aren’t affected much by these laws.

In movie theaters, after the previews and after the admonitions to turn off your phone, they play the national anthem. All rise and stand quietly and watch a royal and national montage thrown up on the screen. It is about 2 minutes of reverence.

Then we watch things blow up or the girl get the guy or whatever.

There’s a park near our house. It is just under a kilometer around. After work it is chocked full with joggers and walkers.  There’s a lap pool. There are weights. There are implements of torture. There are volleyball and basketball courts. All of them are full. It is quite refreshing.

At 5:59:30 pm,  a tinny, 8-bit pre-amble plays.

At 6:00:00 pm, the guards walk to the middle of the track and blows a whistle. Everyone in the park stands up and freezes, facing whatever direction they’re facing and holds still while the national anthem plays. It’s like “When Time Stood Still.”

At the end of the song, the whistle blows and everyone goes about their business. Finishing their reps or laps or conversation.

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Categories: Thailand

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