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Final goodbye to a most revered monarch

Dusk light fades behind the warmly lit royal crematorium and funeral complex for HM the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who reigned for 70 years before his death on Oct. 13, 2016, is being honored in an elaborate royal funeral and cremation ceremony from Oct. 25 to 29. In this week’s edition, filled with emotion, we say a final goodbye to our most beloved monarch, our hearts filled with sorrow for his departure, but also filled with solemn joy, for deep down inside we know he has taken a place among the greats in heaven. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Legendary Royal Sailor (Part 1)

Peter Cummins

As a small boy thrashing an open 3-meter dinghy in the icy and inhospitable waters of southern Tasmania, I did not realize that this “punishment” would later be the instrument of my meeting, and intimate and friendly ambiance, with the world’s greatest king – His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Some four decades and four continents later, this came about, when I was invited by His Majesty to go sailing off the Klai Klang Won Palace in Hua Hin.  The boat was different to my little dinghy, the waters were 20C warmer and the environment was a world class.

I sailed competitively with the late King and, up-close during the outing, I observed his mastery of the elements- the wind shifts the currents and the weather.  This same knowledge he imbued in his development of Thailand, sheltering his people from the vagaries of nature, floods and the ebb and flow of the political tides around them.

Although I no longer sail, every time I visit the shoreline I still remember the wonderful days that I was privileged to be with His Majesty.

The following story is my attempt to recall the most cherished moments of my years in the Kingdom, when I spent some precious time with Their Majesties the King and Queen, via the sailing world.

The 1950s-1960s: Sailing thrives

Affinity to the sea has always been a trait of the Thai people – understandably so, as the Kingdom is blessed with a beautiful littoral, marvellous beaches, warm waters and gentle thermals - not forgetting the generous nature of the local people - which are still the great attractions of the Kingdom.

HM the King predicts Peter Cummins will be seventh in the next race – and he was right.

King Bhumibol, Queen Sirikit and members of the Royal Family had some notable sojourns in South Pattaya in the 1950s-1960s and, often, there were gatherings of visiting royals, such as the future Queen of Denmark - then a Princess - and Thai “blue bloods” to share the fun and the sailing.  Such sailing greats as Prince Birabongse Bhanubandh and Dr Rachot Kanjanavanit were frequently present.

After the founding of the Varuna Marine Club in South Pattaya in July 1957, there were many gatherings on the South Pattaya foreshore.  One memorable event was in April 1965, when the British Royal Consort Prince Philip joined a race from Pattaya to Koh Larn and back.  Prince Philip, a Dragon class sailor of Olympic standards, was not exactly covered in glory this day and his placing in the 23-strong fleet was not well publicized.

Prince Bhisadej, the King’s long-time associate and one of the dedicated promoters of sailing, liked to remind everyone that his wife, MR Datchatee, sailed with Prince Philip on that fateful occasion!

One other of the group assembled on the Pattaya foreshore was H.E. Sebastiao de Castello-Branco, the then Portuguese Ambassador to Thailand who noted that, “While the race was not exactly an Olympian qualifying trial, a great picnic on Koh Larn and the later banquet at the Marine Club, hosted by Their Majesties, were ample rewards for the day’s outing.”

Prince Philip was so delighted, regardless of his poor placing that, upon return to the UK, he despatched a wooden catamaran as a gift to the King.  It was the first “Cat” in Thailand where there are now a myriad of types and styles, built here in the Kingdom - no more wooden ones, but built with sophisticated fibreglass, carbon fibres and aluminium.

Apart from this famous race, which has become an annual long-distance event in the Gulf, now known as the “Three Islands Race”, the event is still held and joins many other such challenges, contributing to the “sailing golden era of the 1950s and 1960s.”

Several other highlights relate to the sailing folklore formed during these decades and are now essentially part of Thailand’s sailing history.  For example, the late King’s Trans-Gulf crossing solo in his OK dinghy, and the monarch and his eldest daughter Princess Ubolratana sharing a gold medal in the 4th South East Asia Peninsular Games (now the SEA Games) are celebrated annually, even some half a century later.

HM the King learning to sail, with his “tutor” HSH Prince Bhisadej.

The King also established a dinghy club, the Royal Chitrlada Yacht Squadron at the Klai Kangwol Palace at Hua Hin and bestowed his Royal Patronage on the Varuna Marine Club, which in July 1965 became known as the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, the Kingdom’s biggest and most active.

Somehow, during these decades, the King also found time to build some more dinghies and designed the “Mod”, a small, light version of the International Moth class, very suitable for the generally light-framed Thai sailors.  The craft was used as a class of its own in successive SEA Games.

Gold medal helmsman

On December 16, 1967, world sporting history was established right here in Pattaya and it was an event that probably will never be equalled - anywhere.  Later on the same day, at the National Stadium in Bangkok, His Majesty the King and his eldest daughter, Princess Ubolratana mounted the winners’ podium to receive gold medals from Her Majesty Queen Sirikit.

HM the King reveling in the challenge of the sea.

It was the Awards Ceremony of the 4th South East Asia Peninsular (SEAP) Games.  King Bhumibol, racing OK dinghy number 27, and his eldest daughter Princess Ubolratana, sailing dinghy no. 18, finished equal first in the OK Dinghy division of those Games.

The King had been disqualified in the third race for a minor infraction and in true sporting spirit he retired from that race, moving the Princess up a step on the standings.  It was only in the last race, where the Princess, trailing father, with the late Dr Rachot Kanjanavanit in the lead, made some quick manoeuvres on the last beat to the finishing line.  Although the petite Princess was overwhelmed by the strong north-easterly prevailing in Pattaya Bay, she used guile and an experience far in excess of her tender 15 years to win this last race.  By tacking on wind-shifts the Princess crossed the fleet to finish first and equal on points with the King, who still trailed Rachot, in third place.

When a father and daughter finish equal first in an international yachting competition, it is history.  But when the equal winners are a King and his daughter, a princess, it is immortal.  That day, December 16, almost a half-century ago, was enshrined as Thailand’s National Sports Day, in honour of the occasion.

One other famous father/daughter sailing team was the Elvstroms who sailed the most difficult “Flying Dutchman” Class (the Elvstroms were Danish!) to a third placing in the Melbourne Olympics, in 1956.

The founding of the Varuna Marine Club on 1 July 1957 - now known as the Royal Varuna Yacht Club - was also to have a great impact on yacht racing, sailing, and later, other marine-related activities in Thailand from the 1960s onwards.

With Walter Meyer as the Marine Club’s first Flag Commodore (known then as Chairman of the Board) and Prince Bhisadej in charge of the sailing programmes, the Varuna Marine Club opened at a beautiful seaside villa “in a Pattaya,” recalled Walter, “of about 20 fisher-folk and a beautiful, sparkling marine environment.”

Walter’s memory of those halcyon days - and nights - was vivid.  How could the ‘Chairman of the Board’ ever forget that he had to borrow two thousand baht from his wife to pay the rent for the new club?

When His Majesty the late King bestowed Royal Patronage in April, 1965, the Varuna Marine Club became the Royal Varuna Yacht Club.  At the same time, His Majesty established the Royal Chitrlada Yacht Squadron at the Klai Kangwol Palace, Hua Hin, which is still the home for some 100 OK dinghies of the King’s own fleet.

At work at Chitralada Villa, building one of his dinghies.

The late 1950s and the 1960s were the golden age of yachting, with the Royal Family and other Thai and visiting Royals, ambassadors and various luminaries all taking an active part in the racing programmes and the festivities, principally around the Varuna Club at South Pattaya.

His Majesty became a frequent and enthusiastic helmsman around the South Pattaya waters - as well as at his own dinghy club at Hua Hin - sailing his Enterprise dinghy the Rajpatan with Prince Bhisadej as crew and chief tactician.

It was Prince Bhisadej, an excellent and experienced sailor himself, who introduced the late King to - and tutored him in - the intricacies of dinghy sailing, recalling how quickly his ‘protégé’ learned.

When at university in the UK earlier, the Prince realized that the cold, restricting rivers and waterways around Cambridge were no match for his own beloved Gulf of Thailand - the warmth, gentle breeze and huge expanses of water.  So, upon return, he started sailing an old “Snipe” (then Olympic Games single-hander), a heavy, teak craft which leaked and capsized often and, now, is probably serving as a dinner table somewhere, because of the beautiful teak-wood used in its construction.

HM the King and HRH Princess Ubolratana on the winners’ podium: SEAP Games, December 1967.

So, he built a “Heron” class car-topper and was sailing along, in slight winds, off Hua Hin, when a strong young man sculled past him.  On beaching, the rower, who was also the King of Thailand, examined the Prince’s boat and marvelled how one could be satisfied to move so slowly - especially when there was little wind.  But, the King, always quick to envision situations, was already planning his first dinghy as he left the beach.

Soon, the two men were building the King’s first Enterprise, in a boatyard converted from a back room at the Chitrlada Palace, back in 1964.  The King’s enthusiasm, coupled to his carpentry skills, gave much rise to the humour - and loving hard work - that pervaded the atmosphere of the boatyard.

Sometimes the King arrived, ready to work on the dinghy, still dressed in an outfit he had been wearing for an official function that had been held that day.

The King hand-finished all the pieces of the dinghy, taking special care with such parts as the “king post” (a support for the deck-stepped mast) and the “king plank” (first side-strip).

It was hardly by chance, then, the boat was named Rajpatan meaning roughly “Royal Pattern”- seeing the King cut and almost “sculptured” most of the pieces himself.

As Prince Bhisadej was in charge of sailing at the Varuna Marine Club on the South Pattaya beach, he was responsible for obtaining the number for the new boat from the UK-based international association.  It was so beautifully built it was “number one,” in fact.  And the number allocated to the Rajpatan? E-TH 11111.

The Prince was also the King’s sailing coach.  Naturally, though, as for any other novice, there were pitfalls along the way for the royal sailor.  On one of their first outings on Pattaya Bay in the Rajpatan, the King was helming beautifully, preparing to undertake a gybe - a difficult enough manoeuvre at any time.  Bhisadej coached the King through the steps to be followed.  Nothing happened and there was no response from the helm.  Bhisadej looked aft to see the King swimming strongly towards the dinghy: during the gybe, he had fallen overboard.

But there was another “naming” story to emanate from the Chitrlada Boatyard.  This was when the King and Bhisadej were building His Majesty’s first OK dinghy.  The King was engrossed in laying the keel, the most difficult and crucial step in building such a craft.  There was an explosion outside but the King could not be distracted from his intricate task.

The two men wished each other a “Happy New Year”, for the detonation was a firework, exploded to celebrate the arrival of New Year, 1965, and they continued on with the building of the dinghy.

The King immediately seized upon the name of the embryo OK dinghy: Naowalerk, meaning roughly “auspicious event.”  What could be more appropriate for a dinghy born on New Year’s Eve?”

The Royal Chritralada Yacht Squadron, Klai Kangwol Palace: Home of some one hundred OK dinghies.

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Legendary Royal Sailor (Part 2)

His Majesty the King greets Peter Cummins at the Klai Kangwon Palace reception.

Peter Cummins

One weekend in July 1985 my good fortune was to come to fruition, for I was assigned by the Bangkok Post to write-up and photograph a regatta between the King’s fleet and the Royal Thai Navy, including all the action for an event called the “Gold Cup”, which was held after the rainy season had already started.  The Klai Kangwon (Summer) Palace looked superb.

My luck was holding, for I was assigned an OK dinghy and ‘co-opted’ to join the race.  I could always write-up the story for the Post later and I was not going to miss the chance of sailing for the King’s team off Klai Kangwon, where a fleet of some 100 OK dinghies were ‘housed’ and kept in “mint” condition.

HM the King greets Peter Cummins at Klai Kangwon Palace, 1985.

Klai Kangwon means, roughly, “far from worries”.  What a name and location for His Majesty King Bhumibol, who needed to be at least “worry free” for a while.  The palace was built in Spanish architectural style in 1929 and was also known as the “Summer Palace”, where the late King and members of the Royal Family spent the summer.  The palace consists of three mansions facing the sea and was constructed to the north of Hua Hin under the royal command of King Rama VII.

The palace, with its magnificent façade, stood out three-dimensional against the sparkling trees, grass and flowers which led down to the sea wall.  And beyond, to delight the eye of the sailor, could be seen the upper triangle of the sails of a large fleet of OK dinghies, rigged and drawn up on the shorefront.

Their Majesties greet the Tasmanian writer. MR Ratchanee in the background.

The King’s own Royal Chitralada Yacht Squadron club was annexed to the Summer Palace and, like where there is any gathering of sailors, it buzzed with activity and anticipation of the race to come.

The conversation ceased abruptly.  His Majesty appeared, smiled at the gathering, checked the wind and weather and turned his attention to the immediate priority: a dinghy race.

The King talked to various members of the group who, beside being dinghy sailors, were all members of the Royal Household staff - ADC’s, police, doctors, as well as husbands of some of the Ladies of the Court - and the ladies themselves.

His Majesty led the sailors down to the beach where the dinghies were lined up, rigged and ready for battle.  The tide was low and there was a light on-shore-westerly.

The King looked at one of the dinghies: “How are you going to sail in these conditions with a sail like that,” he admonished one helmsman, easing the outhaul to change the contours of the sail.  Nothing escaped him; he checked a few more of the dinghies, made a few adjustments and gave helpful advice.

But there was a surprise.  In front of the stand which held life jackets was a scale-model sloop-rigged yacht, about one metre long, and a remote-control panel.

Peter Cummins accepts his “regatta “Gold” from HM the King.

After a brief inspection, His Majesty sent the yacht out on the sea in a strong offshore wind.  The King allowed the yacht to sail about 500 meters off the shore, manipulating the remote control panel to send the yacht tacking, gybing, luffing, reaching and running.  To send it out was easy; but to bring it back against the wind, tide and waves?  His Majesty’s hand danced across the panel; the yacht did likewise across the sea.

He even managed to bring it in to less than knee-deep water, by heeling it hard in a squall to reduce the keel depth.

But, then for the serious business of dinghy racing.  The fleet of OK dinghies, with His Majesty slightly to windward and in front, sailed to the start line.

The race was sailed in light, shifting conditions and featured a very close race, with Bhisadej, Prapatphao, the Post reporter (the “Farang khun deo”), His Majesty and Krirk all close together, in that order, around most of the course.  On the last beat, the winds started playing more tricks and the difficult decision was whether to play for the wind “out” or go in along the shore.  Krirk and Prapatphao chose the latter and, in a very exciting finish, Krirk raced over the line 13 seconds ahead, to win the RCYS regatta.

The race finished and the fleet sailed to shore - not so easy with the shifting winds.  But, of course, no presentation of trophies could be made until the very last competitor had arrived.  He was certainly fairly close to the shore but, the unfortunate man, who must remain anonymous, was having much trouble tacking in.

It was time for the “remote control” which had worked nicely before, under His Majesty’s skilful hands.  “Perhaps the batteries in his OK dinghy are not charged,” remarked one of the beached sailors, to the huge amusement of all there.

One of the sailors noted that the gold tins were appropriate for several of the competitors who had received a bruise or two from body contact with dinghy gear - especially the metal boom!

Not over

His Majesty patiently waited until this recalcitrant last dinghy had crossed the finish line (without the aid of the remote control, too!), refreshments were served right there on the finishing line, and a collective sigh of relief went up from the weary sailors.  An easy fifteen minute sail to the beach, running before the wind and then a good rest, was the collective thought.

But, it was not to be.  His Majesty was just warming up.  A Royal Thai Navy frigate on patrol duty was anchored out in the Gulf.  The Vega 2 took off on a close reach to the navy ship and the King led the OK flotilla around the ship and sailed back to the beach.

The Gold prizes (being tins of gold tiger balm) were then distributed and, once again, there were some special awards, including the “farang trophy” to the first-finishing farang in the regatta (the gathered sailors politely refrained from pointing out that there was only ONE farang actually competing).

Drinks were served from silver trays and the competitors stood in a group around the winner.  The race officer approached with a long sheet which he held at both ends, reminiscent of the ‘town crier’ of medieval times.  He solemnly read out boat number, helmsman, finishing time and placing.

Sixth: the Post reporter (the farang). “You can do better,” said the King.  Down the list.  Eleventh was one of the Thai Navy sailors. “Not so good,” said His Majesty; “you did better last time.”  Then, silence.

The ‘town crier’ disappeared with the evidence, but the eighteenth placing out of eighteen starters (mentioned at length above), happened to be one of the Palace physicians.  He was not to escape. “You were last,” said the King; “twelve places behind the farang, even.  Nevertheless, I am happy that you are a better doctor than you are a sailor,” the King admonished the hapless sailor, to the great mirth of us all.

The King led us back up the beach, into the clubhouse, took his leave of us and disappeared into the Palace.


One of the best things about any sport is the “after” ambience and the camaraderie which pervades the club’s rooms when the day’s events are over.  The “après-ski” best epitomizes this milieu; when the day’s stars of the slopes- and the rest - gather around the log fire, the feelings are good.  At the Royal Chitrlada Yacht Squadron, the “après-voile” was special.

It was a Royal reception and buffet “thank you” to the Governor and provincial officials of Petchaburi who had looked after the Royal family during their summer sojourn in Hua Hin.  Then it was back to Bangkok for the Royal Household.

Peter Cummins (TH-302) closes in on the King, but was unable to keep pace with The Monarch who sailed on to line honours.

The day’s earlier heroes had abandoned their tee shirts and shorts for something a little more formal.  Several wore the uniform of the Royal Thai Army, the Police and many Royal Thai Navy ratings and officers were conspicuous.

Prince Bhisadej guided me through the marquees and open-air areas set-up adjoining the Palace recreation room, itself laid out with tables and chairs, neatly and simply.

We had some drinks and conversed with the sailors of the day’s race, recapturing the events, like sailors from any other club.  But that air of expectancy was there again - a suppressed excitement.

There is a casual elegance about a gathering of Thai people that is hard to define and, in many other societies, impossible to capture at such occasions.  There is an underlying friendliness; it is the essence of “sanuk”.

I was taken to meet the Governor of Petchaburi Province, the chief guest of honour.  He was introduced as “Head monkey-catcher of Kao Wang.”  To the hilarity of the group standing around, the narrator confided that the party was really a farewell to the Governor who had not been able to catch a monkey and was therefore being transferred to take charge of the monkey section at the Dusit Zoo.  “He’ll do well there; all the monkeys are in cages, already,” guffawed the narrator, to the great amusement of all those around, including the Governor.

Their Majesties the King and the Queen enjoying the informal ambience at Klai Kangwon Palace.

Prince Bhisadej told me to stay where I was, because the King and Queen were now coming down from their quarters in the Palace.  The crowd flowed across the vast recreation hall and lined up, forming a corridor from the entrance stairs of the Palace to the recreation room.

“Ah, this is a day to remember,” I mused, keeping well against the wall where the Prince had assigned me.  A sail with the King and, just now, a glimpse of Their Majesties, as they disappeared into the crowds AND a chance for a first-person, exclusive story of “Sailing with the King”, for the Bangkok Post.

After a while, I started to feel lonely, however; the only farang, standing against this wall, no one else near.  I wanted to be at least somewhere near the King and Queen, while I had the opportunity.  Prince Bhisadej was obviously keeping me out of the way, afraid of my doing something outrageous or, even worse- something Tasmanian - whatever that could be!

M.R. Datcharee, Prince Bhisadej’s wife, called my name.  I looked around to see the Queen of Thailand.  Her Majesty was wearing a silk “pa mud mee”- black and rusty brown - the ancient traditional dress of the north-east where the Queen has revived the silk industry.

The King was dressed in a silk prarachatan, grey with mauve tints, and semi-formal white slacks.  He clutched a two-way radio. “Welcome to the Klai Kangwol Palace,” Her Majesty said in soft, slow English.  “Why do you prefer to sail an Enterprise to an OK?” the Queen asked.  “Well, Your Majesty,” I answered, “in the Enterprise when I sail badly, I can always blame my crew; today, sailing alone in the OK…what can I say?”

“He’s not a bad sailor,” said the King.  He gave the very slightest hint of a smile, that bemusement of a top-class sailor who has out-witted one with pretensions in that direction.

Luckily (again), I was aware of a number of the Queen’s initiatives to help the Hilltribe people - the SUPPORT project, particularly - and I was able to talk a little about Her Majesty’s desire to help her people.

The following day, still not exactly covered in glory even though I had been awarded a “Gold”, I thought it better to concentrate on reporting for my newspaper.  So, with my camera at the ready, I followed the fleet of OK sailors, including M.R. Datcharee, who had set out to race along the coast to a beach-side hotel.  It was a reach all the way down the coast and it presented a beautiful fishing port and the gently curving hills of Hua Hin.

After a good start, His Majesty led the fleet down the coast, staying some 200 meters offshore.  A number of the dinghies went further out, looking for more wind; but it was those who sailed closer to the shore, such as Prince Bhisadej, who picked up what there was of the wind.

It was a day that sailors call “full of holes” (great gaps in the wind) and the fleet passed the lighthouse, from where it was painfully slow to the Sailom Hotel finishing line.  His Majesty, along with numerous other sailors, found the conditions tricky, to say the least!

The fleet drifted to a desultory finish and the race was abandoned.  With some imagination it could have been a scene from the history books.  A big crowd gathered at the water’s edge to greet the King and, from there, we proceeded to the hotel where a lunch was set.

Though that ended the water-borne activities for the time being, the staff and guests of the Sailom could scarcely believe their good fortune to see their King close-up, landing on their beach.  A lot of hilarity pervaded the lunch and jokes were traded.  M.R. Datcharee told me that, at such occasions, the King usually taps one or two of the assembly to talk.

One of the younger sailors was required to speak and explain the way he and his group had “learned to sail”.  It reminded me of the way we learned to swim in Tasmania - at least, in my area.  We were simply thrown into the water - into a sink or swim situation, so to speak.  Thus for the new sailors: “We went to the boats and sailed,” said their spokesman.

My number came up and I bumbled along in a polyglot of English, Thai, and even some French to fill the gaps.  M.R. Datcharee consoled me later.  “We don’t know what you said, nobody understood you, but you were very entertaining,” she said.

It was a rare privilege to be presented to the King and Queen, in such an informal, friendly milieu, created by a fit, active King and a beautiful, gracious Queen.  But to meet their Majesties in such circumstances was an additional bonus; with the trappings of protocol barely intruding, it was a glimpse of the monarchs as two very warm and friendly people.

The King did not sail very often after the 1980s but the enthusiasm he infused into the sport has been handed over to the nation’s young sailors of today, and remains unstoppable.

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Legendary Royal Sailor (Part 3)

HM the King “plants the flag” at the Sattahip Royal Naval Base at Toey Harbour, after his trans-Gulf crossing.

Peter Cummins

April 19 is just another day for many people.  But for countless yachting enthusiasts in the Kingdom, this day has a special significance: it was just over 50 years ago on 19 April 1966 that the King of Thailand made his historic trans-Gulf crossing in the solo OK sailing dinghy, the “Vega”.

Leaving the beach in front of the Klai Kangwon Palace at Hua Hin in the pre-dawn darkness His Majesty sailed across the Gulf to the Thai Navy base at Toey Harbour in Sattahip, beaching again in darkness, some 16 hours and 60 nautical miles later.

A sailor only needs one hour on a small dinghy, pitching and bucking, fighting every wave and hanging over the side to keep it from capsizing, to understand the sheer skill, stamina and determination His Majesty displayed in that momentous trans-Gulf crossing.

Still energetic after the event, the King then proceeded to look around the base as though he had just arrived by air-conditioned car, although there was, of course a sort of air-conditioning on the “Vega” if you like - a 15-knot south-westerly monsoon blowing all day.  The Royal Thai Navy had constructed a monument to mark the King’s accomplishment and His Majesty proceeded to plant a flag atop the structure, “signing” it with a chisel into the rock-face.

At the time, the crossing was regarded as the longest single-handed journey in an open-dinghy, out of sight of land.  It was this example that spawned a number of round-the-world single-handed races.  It also inspired two teen-aged girls, a Dutch and an Australian who sailed around the world alone, in the past few years, even in the murderous Southern Ocean and around Cape Horn: some 400 days - and nights, of course - all alone, at the mercy of the vagaries of the ocean.

Their stories made me head for my easy chair and start reading a simple book.  That was enough adventure for this converted “landlubber”.

Three others accompanied the late King on the crossing, sailing their own boats.  One of them was, of course, Prince Bhisadej.  As he groaned up the beach at Sattahip, Bhisadej’s great fear was that the King would summon him to sail the return leg the following day.

But his fears were unfounded for the “return” leg did not really take place until some four years later.  After the crossing, His Majesty gave the rudder of the Vega to the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand, the national authority, as the trophy for an annual Trans-Gulf race from Sattahip to Hua Hin.

That marked the beginning of the Vega Rudder race and the “return,” from Sattahip to Hua Hin, was sailed in 1970.  The inaugural trans-Gulf race was won by Rachot Kanjanavanit.

In that torrid race, the slower craft started at 3.00 a.m., to beach, finally, in front of the Klai Kangwol Palace at around 21:00 in the evening.  Those who could still walk, after about twenty hours on the same tack across the Gulf, went up to the Palace to be greeted by the monarch.

HM the King receives his “trophy” from HM the Queen.

The trans-Gulf crossing was changed to a race that generally kept the fleet in sight of the eastern shore of the Gulf, each year sailing a different course set by the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand.  Now, the “Vega Ruder Race” is an integral part of the Royal Thai Navy/Yacht Racing Association of Thailand’s annual Hua Hin Regatta.  Many from the Eastern Seaboard sail across to participate.  But the vessels used now are an entirely different “breed” to the open OK dinghy of the King.  In fact, some of these super-fast fibreglass catamarans can sail over the Gulf in four hours or less!

A return to sailing

Towards the end of 1960, His Majesty was unable to sail, for affairs of state and his dedication to the Thai people were initiatives that occupied him totally.  Then in early 1970, it was most assuring for the country to see His Majesty robust and vigorous and heading for the beach.  Thus it was a joyous day when the late King’s OK dinghy was drawn up on the Hua Hin beach once more, rigged and ready for the Royal helmsman.

HM the King and HSH Prince Bhisadej head for the dinghies at the Palace beach.

For the yachting fraternity, it was, of course, the best news of the decade.  It had been well over 10 years since the King had entered competitive dinghy racing.  Although he never did entirely abandon his beloved sport, it was only after this hiatus that he had taken any time to relax at the helm of “Vega II.”

“Back in the saddle”, so to speak, with the King’s “return to the sea”, his team from the Chitrlada Yacht Squadron renewed the long-dormant rivalry with the Royal Thai Navy sailors.  More regattas eventuated and one, in particular, was memorable.

It was the south-westerly Monsoon season, with turbulent seas, strong storms and unpredictable conditions.  His Majesty showed that his absence from sailing for a decade had not diminished his skills.  Sailing his OK dinghy, he registered a great victory.  Finishing second behind the King was Pol. Maj. Gen. Praphatpao Panyachiwa and in third-place was Capt. Vatinna Puengprakiat.

The action opened with some 80 OK dinghies battling high waves, strong winds and front-line squalls.  The King was “first across”, to use a nautical term, and his team won, the Royal Chitrlada Squadron beating the Royal Thai Navy team quite convincingly.  The conditions were tough but all sailors enjoyed a fine day’s sailing.  The day’s action was followed by a colourful awards ceremony at the hall of the Klai Kangwol Palace.

HM the King building the OK dinghy, “Vega II”.

On the next day, the dinghies, with the King heading the fleet, sailed to the Royal Gardens village for lunch.  The fleet raced back, competing for Her Majesty the Queen’s Trophy.  Who won it?  The King of course.  It was almost a flash-back to the Gold Medal Awards presentation at the SEAP Games in 1967, when Her Majesty presented the winners’ awards to the King and their daughter, Princess Ubolratana.

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Legendary Royal Sailor (Part 4)

The beautifully crafted Phuket King’s Cup Regatta trophy.

Peter Cummins

One strong and ongoing example of His Majesty the late King’s dominating influence on the development of sailing and marine activities in Thailand was the founding of the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta.

In 1986, a group of sailing veterans, mainly from the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, gathered to plan a regatta for His Majesty’s 60th, fifth cycle birthday.  The owner of the then Phuket Yacht Club Hotel and a leading Thai architect, ML Tridosyuth Devakul, placed his hotel and resources at the disposal of the group.  His Majesty graciously agreed to be the Regatta’s patron and award the splendid permanent trophy each year to the overall Regatta winner.

Mom Tri Devakul designed the magnificent trophy, embossed with the number nine, representing His Majesty as the ninth ruler of the Chakri Dynasty.  Nine “sails” in burnished metal, emanate from a silver column placed upon a base, mirroring the sea.  Atop this vertical column is a replica of the symbol of the King, known in Thai as the “Tra Sanyalak”, emblazoned with His Majesty’s initials and topped with the royal crown.  The whole edifice is mounted on a column of ash-wood, carved with the regatta’s title.

When one looks at pictures of the famous - and quite ugly - “America’s Cup” trophy, fought over for almost 160 years in the hallowed halls of international yacht racing, the Phuket King’s Cup trophy stands out as a work of art, fashioned by a man with a most artistic temperament.

Dr Rachot Kanchanavanit, Adolph Knees, William Gasson, Albert Chandler and Chris King, amongst others - all great sailors - put the minutiae of such an event into reality.  Thus, in 1987, the Regatta was sailed for the King’s sixtieth birthday - a first of its kind for Phuket - and Thailand.  It is a multi-disciplinary sailing event with international and Thailand-based sailors gathering for some fierce on-water competition and friendly onshore celebrations, revelling in the wonderful ambience of Thailand’s southern island province. 

Today, the foundations remain solid and the principles the same.  The difference?  Three decades later, the Regatta has grown into the largest sailing event of its kind in Asia, attracting 1,000 plus participants each year, with a further 1,000 people headed by the Royal Thai Navy and the Phuket Governor, who lend full support to the event.

In the past, one of the biggest spectacles of the Regatta was the “Royal Sail-past” on the fifth of December each year, in commemoration of the late King’s birthday, when the total fleet of Regatta participants traditionally sailed their craft, festooned with flags, around a Royal Thai frigate, anchored mid-stream off Kata Beach, with the Thai Navy men, in sparkling white uniforms, lining the frigate’s deck.  In light His Majesty’s passing, the sail-past last year was moved to December 9 in commemoration of the late King as the ninth monarch of the Chakri Dynasty.

Over the past decade, due in no small part to events like the King’s Cup Regatta, Thailand has become one of the world’s most desirable sailing and water-sport venues.  With its beautiful coastlines, warm waters and friendly, smiling people, the Kingdom has attracted a great number of world championships, and many regional competitions.

Thai dinghy sailors and windsurfers have reached world standards and not too long ago became world champions of the highly competitive junior sailing, via the Optimist dinghy.  Many have competed in the Olympics, especially in wind-surfing and single-handed Laser classes and Thailand is now fielding teams in round-the-world races and other big regional regattas.

The Royal Varuna Yacht Club in Pattaya also hosted the OK Dinghy World Championships in recent times, the event coming to Thailand as a tribute to the King, knowing his affinity for the dinghy and his many successes in sailing and building the craft in the Kingdom.  “It was the best ever of our world championships,” was the consensus of the world-wide group. “We’ll be back, for sure”.

The Phuket King’s Cup Regatta is the largest sailing event of its kind in Asia.

His Majesty the late King, undoubtedly, was the Royal catalyst in this nautical surge, starting from the early 1960s and continuing even stronger every year, as many events commemorating his maritime prowess are celebrated here in Thailand and other places abroad, lauding not only his sailing, but his dedication to sports and sports-people everywhere.

His Royal patronage of the region’s best yacht club, the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, has also had a remarkable influence on the evolution and exponential surge of sailing, yacht racing and maritime sports, locally, regionally and universally.

The club, situated on a beautiful plot of land at Pattaya Point, has been located at this prime beach-front for more than three decades and His Majesty’s influence has been felt constantly.

As the rapid development of Pattaya moved up over Pratamnak Hill, the Varuna Club had to re-adjust to maintain its status as an oasis of tranquillity in the encroaching concrete desert.

Facing west, the frequently-beautiful sunsets over and behind Koh Lan were enshrined in the orientation of the splendid new club-house, opened by His Majesty the current Thai monarch, Crown Prince Maha Chakri Vajiralongkorn as he was tilted then, in October, 2004, with Prince Bhisadej, of course, continuing King Bhumibol’s contribution and blessing in the laying of the foundation stone and dedication of the Spirit House on 23 October 2004.

The late King’s daughter, HRH Princess Ubolratana, has recaptured the magic of the early days, with an occasional sail off Royal Varuna, as has his grand-daughter, HRH Princess Patcharakitiyapha.

Undoubtedly, King Rama IX’s love of the freedom of the sea has been a shining example of fulfilment in just about our last frontier, in a world overtaken by conflict, technology and materialism, constricting this very freedom we all crave.

Starting with the highly-successful Ocean Marina in Na Jomtien, clubs, marinas, sailing associations and numerous boat-building facilities now proliferate up and down Thailand’s beautiful waterways.  Regattas, world events or, more simply, just people enjoying the healthy, stimulating freedom of sailing are all the outcome and basically originate from the early days when the late King made his “maiden voyage”, at Pattaya beach.

The Royal Varuna Yacht Club in Pattaya – a lasting legacy of His Majesty the King’s passion for sailing.

The preceding stories in this article have attempted to present a microcosm of His Majesty King Bhumibol’s skills as a sailor - just one sphere of the enormous talent and dedication he had in so many other disciplines.  The text has been limited to his maritime endeavours and their impact, both locally and world-wide, which will continue ad infinitum, thanks to that fateful day in South Pattaya over 50 years ago.

Each and every dinghy, catamaran and keelboat which takes to Thai waters is there, basically, as a tribute to and an acknowledgement of the “King of Sailing” - His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

A tribute to King Rama IX: The Royal Sportsman

Peter Cummins

His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej made incomparable contributions to Thai sportsmen and women throughout his reign as monarch and influenced a wide spectrum of sports, both in the Kingdom and beyond.

King Bhumibol’s own examples have always been a great source of inspiration to Thai athletes: for instance, every sailor and sports fan knows that he won a gold medal, coming equal-first with his eldest daughter HRH Ubolratana in the OK Dinghy Class at the South East Asian Peninsular Games on the 16th of December 1967, this day now enshrined and celebrated as National Sports Day in Thailand.

This nautical record is matched by a land-based one, the late King being the only person to have lit the torch opening the quadrennial Asian Games on four occasions, the last time being in Bangkok in 1998, just one day after his seventy-first birthday.

His Majesty was well known as being highly-knowledgeable about many sports having, at various times, participated in skiing, motor racing, ice-skating, badminton, tennis, swimming and even a little golf.

As the then-president of the Thailand Olympic Committee, the late Air Chief Marshal Dawee Chullasapya emphasized when presenting the late King with the highly-prestigious honour of The Insignia of the Olympic Order in December 1987, “The Olympic award was made not only to recognize the King’s prowess as a world-class yachtsman, but also to acknowledge the leading role he has played in promoting all sports - in Thailand, in the region and internationally.”

Another Olympic honour was bestowed upon His Majesty in 2001, when the International Olympic Committee presented him with the IOC’s Lalounis Cup.

In boxing, too, His Majesty proved to be most knowledgeable.  In 2001, president of the World Boxing Council, Dr Jose Sulaiman, in bestowing upon His Majesty the WBC’s Golden Shining Symbol of World Leadership Award, was amazed at the late King’s knowledge of the sport.  In turn, two years later in Mexico City, His Majesty bestowed the title of Second Class Knight Commander of the Most Admirable Order of the Direkgunabhorn on Dr Sulaiman - one of the highest Royal Awards ever to be conferred on a sports official.

HM the late King was also continuously involved in badminton for more than 50 years, playing the sport since 1953.  He granted royal patronage to the Badminton Association of Thailand in 1954 and, over the decades donated trophies for men’s and women’s badminton competitions; provided badminton facilities for national players at the palace and supported players financially through scholarships.

He gave unparalleled support to badminton and his lifetime contribution to the sport was honoured in November 2012 with the inaugural BWF President’s Medal being bestowed upon him by then BWF President Dr. Kang Young Joong.

“His Majesty is truly deserving of this accolade – given at the BWF President’s sole discretion – for a lifetime as an ardent protector and an enthusiastic supporter of badminton,” said Dr. Kang.  “His influence and patronage have undoubtedly impacted the lives of many Thai players who have risen to be among the world’s elite, reaping rewards for themselves, their country and their beloved monarch.”

Throughout his reign, His Majesty consistently encouraged all sportsmen and women everywhere to put sporting spirit above success.

On addressing athletes and officials of the Thai team assembled at Chitralada Palace on the eve of their departure to take part in the 1998 SEA Games in Indonesia, His Majesty commented: “All sports must be played according to the rules.  Show spirit and aim for victory but also look for friendship.  If everybody does their best to win in both sports and friendship, the country will benefit.”

Despite his interest and support of a myriad of sports in the Kingdom, it is undoubtedly sailing with which His Majesty the late King will always be most closely associated and remembered.  One of the best yachting festivals in the region - if not the world - is the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta, established in 1987 to honour His Majesty and sailed every December since, coming up for its 31st anniversary this year.

In 1987 the Regatta was a first of its kind for Phuket - a multidisciplinary sailing event with international and Thailand-based sailors gathering for some fierce on-water competition and friendly onshore celebrations.  Today, the Regatta has grown into the largest sailing event of its kind in Asia, attracting 1,000 plus participants each year and regularly sees over 100 boats take part.

Thailand’s sportsmen and women - particularly the burgeoning army of sailors at sites up and down the Thai coast have indeed been fortunate to have had their own King as an ardent supporter, a leading example and, not the least, the Royal Imprimatur of Thai sports.

In Loving Memory of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Loving Father of heartbroken nation

Part 2

Peter Cummins,
Special Correspondent, Pattaya Mail
Photo Courtesy of the Bureau of the Royal Household

The Chiang Mai Mail joins the entire Kingdom in sorrowfully extending our heartfelt grief in the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej who passed away in peace on October 13, 2016. We wish to join all people of the world in our most sincere condolences to the entire Royal Family for their tragic loss.

His Majesty has been our inspiration of love and hope for the past 70 years, and we wish him a most peaceful journey into the next realm.

With his passing, the Thai Nation mourns, in a thousand different ways, with every person from the youngest to the oldest renewing their pledge of loyalty and devotion to the beloved King, and to the entire Royal Family.

The following pages contain part 2 of sometimes repeated, oft quoted excerpts of the incredible life of our most gracious Father of the Thai Kingdom, written by our special correspondent Peter Cummins.

for the People

HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej  established several Royal Development Study Centres - or, as they are better known - “Living Museums” - situated in the roughest terrain in their respective regions. These centres are the locale for experiments in reforestation, irrigation, land development and farm technology which are conducted to find practical applications within the constraints of local conditions, geography and topography. His Majesty’s aim was to restore the natural balance, to enable people to become self-supporting.

The first centre organized was that of Khao Hin Son, in the rocky area of Chachoengsao’s Phanom Sarakam District. Here, the centre studies how to turn the barren soil, caused by deforestation, back into fertile land again.

Other centres are located at strategic places around the Kingdom.

The Pikul Thong Centre at Narathiwat studies the swampy, acidic land of the southern-most region. The Phu Phan Centre in Sakon Nakhon studies soil salinity and irrigation in the country’s biggest region, the Northeast, which suffers from endemic drought. The Krung Kraben Bay Centre in Chantaburi examines the rehabilitation of mangrove forests and coastal areas following massive destruction. The Huay Sai Centre in Petchaburi studies the rehabilitation of degraded forests and shows villagers, in their turn, how to protect the forests.

When he was in doubt, HM the King would fly over a particular area, armed with aerial photographs and maps of the terrain, noting features as they passed underneath. And, as he was a good photographer, he also took His own pictures, later to juxtapose them on area charts to obtain a complete and detailed image of the specifics which helped his planning of various development projects.

His Majesty’s insightful approach to local prevailing conditions enabled him to improvise new theories for agricultural development, to provide guidelines for educating farmers on self-sufficiency, and to solve problems of goitre by feeding iodine into salt roads at strategic points.

During all these works, His Majesty promoted a simple approach using environmentally friendly techniques and utilizing moderate amounts of locally available resources. For example, before environmentalism became a major force in the development equation, His Majesty was using vetiver grass to prevent erosion, controlling ground water level to reduce soil acidity, and seeding clouds with simple materials such as dry ice, to produce rain.

A ‘Simple’ approach

The King’s philosophy to development problems was to “keep it simple” - relying on an intimate knowledge of Nature and her immutable law, such as using fresh water to flush out polluted water or dilute it through utilization of normal tidal fluctuations. The ubiquitous water hyacinth too can be ‘harnessed’ to absorb pollutants.

The results of any development, the King asserted, must reach the people directly as a means of overcoming immediate problems, translating into “enough to live, enough to eat”, while looking at a longer-term result of “living well and eating well.”

His Majesty compared this to using adharma (evil) to fight evil, observing that both pollution and the water weed are a menace, but they can be used to counteract each other, thus lessening the damage to the environment.

The King himself practiced this ‘simple approach’ and brought a down-to-earth approach to which the people could readily relate. He studied and deliberated exhaustively on the particular project and then revealed his thinking in short, easy-to-grasp titles. The very simplicity belies the profundity of the philosophy, for each title reflects a much deeper insight into a given problem and often, at the same time, hints at the mode of operation to be employed.

The King undertook the establishment of the Royal Development Projects in 1969, primarily as a means of arresting the opium growing and deforestation caused by the Hilltribes’ slash and burn agriculture and to improve their standard of living. The first was established at a Hmong village on Doi Pui in Chiang Mai Province and now has spread to Chiang Rai, Lamphun and Mae Hong Son. Over the years, the Projects have been instrumental in the conversion of the poppy fields being turned into groves of temperate fruits and vegetables.

Under the dynamic direction of the King’s close colleague, Prince Bhisadej Rajani, who was the Director of the Projects, operating from his base at Chiang Mai University, there are four research stations and 35 Royal Project Development Centres which incorporate some 300 villages, comprising 14,000 households and approximately 90,000 farmers.

The Royal Development Projects Board, under the Office of the Prime Minister, also serves as the secretariat for the Chai Pattana Foundation which is directly responsible for the work related to the royal development projects. Now, many decades later, the results can be seen in the new life which has come to many of the mountain villages. Greenery has returned to once-denuded forest areas and barren hills and the opium cultivation, a cause of extreme national concern, is virtually a past era.

“The key to the success of the Project lies in His Majesty’s guidelines,” explained Prince Bhisadej. “They focus on obtaining knowledge, through research, avoiding bureaucratic entanglements and swift action to respond to the villagers’ needs, while promoting self-reliance,” he added. “The effectiveness of this approach has been applauded internationally.” For example, in 1998 the Royal Project won both the Magsaysay Award for International Understanding and the Thai Expo Award for attaining the quality standard of Thai Goods for Export.

HM the King’s own views were that development must respect different regions, geography and peoples’ way of life. “We cannot impose our ideas on the people - only suggest. We must meet them, ascertain their needs and then propose what can be done to meet their expectations,” HM the King pointed out.

The King’s ideas were in direct contrast to the bureaucracy’s wish to impose standards from the top down, with the inflexibility inherent therein. “Don’t be glued to the textbook,” he admonished developers “who,” he said, “must compromise and come to terms with the natural and social environment of the community.”

The King saw no need to spare any sensitivities - if there were any - because he felt that the government approach is costly and authoritarian which is why it has “failed miserably to address the country’s problems.”


Thus, through the illustrious decades of his rule, HM the King was the very embodiment of his Oath of Accession that, “We will reign with Righteousness for the Benefit and Happiness of the Siamese People.”

The world’s longest-reigning Monarch was “the light of his land, the pride of his people and a shining example to all peoples of a troubled world.”

A year on, the Kingdom mourns

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej
5 December 1927 - 13 October 2016

It is almost hard to comprehend that a year ago today, at 3.55 p.m. on Oct. 13, 2016, our beloved king passed away in peace. Once again, a year later and as we have done the entire time, the Pattaya Mail Media Group joins the entire Kingdom in sorrowfully extending our heartfelt grief in the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. We wish to join all the people of the world in our most sincere condolences to the entire Royal Family for this tragic loss.

His Majesty was our inspiration of love and hope for 70 years, and we wish him a most peaceful journey into the next realm when his much loved son, His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun presides over commemoration ceremonies today on the anniversary of his father’s death, and over the royal cremation on Oct. 26.

With his passing, the Thai Nation mourns, in a thousand different ways, with every person from the youngest to the oldest renewing their pledge of loyalty and devotion to the beloved King, and to the entire Royal Family.

In Loving Memory of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great

Loving Father of heartbroken nation

Part 1

Peter Cummins
Special Correspondent
Photos Courtesy:
Royal Household Bureau

The Chiang Mai Mail joins the entire Kingdom in sorrowfully extending our heartfelt grief in the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great who passed away in peace on October 13, 2016. We wish to join all people of the world in our most sincere condolences to the entire Royal Family for their tragic loss.

His Majesty was our inspiration of love and hope for 70 years, and we wish him a most peaceful journey into the next realm.

With his passing, the Thai Nation mourns, in a thousand different ways, with every person from the youngest to the oldest renewing their pledge of loyalty and devotion to the beloved King, and to the entire Royal Family.

The following pages contain part 1 of sometimes repeated, oft quoted excerpts of the incredible life of our most gracious Father of the Thai Kingdom, written by our special correspondent Peter Cummins.


It is very difficult to encapsulate the incredible achievements of our beloved King in this short article. The writer, rather, has highlighted just some of the events, honours and accolades which have been dedicated to His Majesty, over the long years of his reign.

HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great was born on Monday, the fifth of December 1927, at the Mount Auburn Hospital, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In his Coronation Oath, promulgated on the fifth of May 1950, the newly-crowned Rama the Ninth vowed that, “We will reign with righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the Siamese people,” and, in the seven decades which have passed since that auspicious day, the concept of “righteousness” dominated his reign. In fact, HM the King constantly revered the age-old Buddhist concept of ‘Kingship’ as defined in the Sutta Pitaka of the  Tripitaka in which a King is defined as Mahasammata - a King of Righteousness.

Our King steadfastly reigned by these principles, embodying good kingship in his own life and example and often speaking out against the affliction of the evils so clearly spelled out in the Buddhist philosophy.

There will inevitably be some familiar material in parts of this story, for HM the King’s development projects have been ongoing for over half a century and there is, of course, a historical perspective which has been incorporated.

Musical Tributes

There have been so many tributes to our King from all corners of the world, that here it is only possible to outline some of them.

One of the most pervasive has been in the form of Musical Tributes, not surprisingly, as His Majesty is an acknowledged composer of classical music and an exceptionally-talented jazz aficionado.

H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej and six friends formed “probably the most intricately gadgeted orchestra in Europe,” regularly meeting at his Lausanne villa to play until the dawn hours. The neighnors never complained.

An Austrian ensemble who, despite never having worked together, recently succeeded in producing an album - the Royal Lullaby - that is faithful to the integrity and authenticity of the original pieces, and in the process created a musical repertoire of international caliber.

“It all started [when] we all met for the first time. I played for Her Majesty the Queen and was asked to include His Majesty’s Love In Spring in the programme. I didn’t know the music or what to expect so was very curious and I came here and just fell in love with the music,” said Austrian solo violinist Wolfgang David, one of the musicians who performed for the album.

David and the album’s producer Chris Craker visited Bangkok to discuss the assembled work. David also performed a few pieces from the album at the launch held at the Sukhothai Hotel.

The Royal Lullaby album also showcases the talents of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Swiss Conductor Emmanuel Siffert and local pianist Indhuon Srikaranonda. Revered Thai National Artist Prof Manrat Srikaranonda was also involved in the musical production.

Commissioned by Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana, the album highlights 10 compositions that reveal HM the King’s musical ingenuity, including the well-known Lullaby and Summertime.

“These works are very important, because I believe Thai musicians have gleaned a lot of influence from Western music, but I think that American and European listeners will appreciate this type of music too,” said David explaining the necessity of creating an album of this stature.

On HM the King’s compositions, David said, “The music is uplifting, which makes it very human. That’s why I love to play it because I also believe that music should lift people’s minds - it’s not just about having a good time for an hour in a concert.”

The King of Swing, H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Benny Goodman and friends at an impromptu jazz session, Manhattan 1960.

Craker acknowledged that while His Majesty the King was already a respected figure in the international community, these newly-arranged pieces further enabled Western audiences to enjoy the music.

Craker also noted that the album’s juxtaposition of classical and jazz compositions was quite unusual. “There are elements of Thai folk music in the melodies, but I think His Majesty was greatly knowledgeable on Western music and was able to embody all those styles and influences with his own concepts,” he added.

“It’s different in that most of the pieces were already written, but the arrangements were not. The melodies have been around for many years, but this orchestration of them is new. There are no right or wrong arrangements, only how people will feel towards the music.”

As an interpreter of the melodies, Chris Craker understood the responsibility that he had in communicating HM the King’s music to an international audience.

Another tribute to HM the King’s musical talents came from the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra which, during the annual Toyota Classics concert featured the internationally-acclaimed Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Tatsuya Shimono, showcasing two of HM’s musical masterpieces in its programme; namely Kwam Fun Un Soong Sood  (A Dream Most Noble) and  Paendin Kong Rau (Our Land).

HM the King was also well-known as a songwriter who had more than 40 published songs to his credit. Kwarm Fun Un Soong Sood, a symphonically-conceived piece, was written in 1971 and has since become one of HM’s most popular and loved compositions.

Yet another musical evening was held by the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra to celebrate His Majesty’s 69th birthday in 1996. The Orchestra performed a special concert under the baton of Hikotaro Yazaki, featuring soloist Pornphan Banternghansa on the piano, at the Thailand Cultural Centre. The programme comprised Fanfare and Rhapsody for a Royal Celebration, a specially-composed piece for the celebration by UK composer Simon Wallace, which was followed by Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Opus 43 for Solo Piano, by Rachmaninoff, and concluded with Symphony No. 4 by Brahms.

His Majesty the King goes Dixie at the Hawaiian governor’s reception, Honolulu 1960.

An evening of HM the King’s music was led by Sasin Alumni Associations in a concert entitled “The Royal Composition of His Life Journey: The King and His Music” to celebrate the 60th anniversary of His Majesty the King’s accession to the throne.

During the presentation, the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra performed His Majesty’s compositions as arranged in an orchestral style by Rear Admiral ML Usni Pramoj, who was also the conductor.

HM the King - the World’s Longest Reigning Monarch

It was ten years ago, in 2006, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of his accession to the Thai Throne, Their Majesties the King and Queen presided over splendid festivities as representatives of 25 royal houses from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia had come to Bangkok to honour His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great.

The royal guests came from near and far to enjoy Thai hospitality and the friendship of the Thai Royal Family.

But - and, perhaps, more significantly - to honour this celebration, millions of people packed the areas around Bangkok’s Royal Plaza to hear HM the King deliver a rare public address in which he called for national unity.

“The responsibility to preserve the nation,” His Majesty reminded his subjects, “does not belong to any particular person but to all Thais who must do their utmost to develop the country and make it prosperous, stable and peaceful,” he said. “Therefore, I, as a Thai, have the same responsibility as all Thais do.”

His Majesty the King, center left, and Her Majesty the Queen, center right, pose with the visiting representatives of 25 royal houses from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Thailand’s Asian neighbors in the elaborate century-old high ceillinged Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall in Bangkok June 12, 2006.

In November, 2006, Time Magazine honoured the King an ‘Asian Hero’ among 65 prominent figures so designated.

“The King’s stewardship has been so masterful that in times of crisis, Thais invariably turn to one man: King Bhumibol,” writes the article published in the magazine’s Nov 13, 2006 issue. “On two occasions - October 1973 and May 1992”, Time editorialized - “with Thailand descending into chaos, the King, armed only with his moral authority, intervened to end bloodshed.”

Elsewhere, His Majesty had been named the first recipient of the Norman E Borlaug World Food Prize Medallion in recognition of His Majesty’s outstanding humanitarian service in alleviating starvation and poverty, presented by the World Food Prize Foundation on July 23, 2007.

HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej shakes hands with the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan at Klai Kangwol Palace in Prachuab Khiri Khan province, May 26, 2006. Annan presented a human development lifetime achievement award to His Majesty as the country celebrated the 60th anniversary of His accession to the throne. Looking on is HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.

The medallion is named in honour of the World Food Prize founder and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr Norman Borlaug.

“Since his accession to the throne in 1946, King Bhumibol Adulyadej … displayed a deep concern that the Thai people have sufficient food and proper nutrition,” said Ambassador Kenneth M Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation.

The royal projects have benefited millions of people across Thailand, with a particular focus on aiding ethnic groups and hill tribes in mountainous regions.

“Dr Borlaug tells of his visits to Thailand and the time he spent meeting with His Majesty and walking through the countryside with him as they discussed possible new approaches to agriculture,” said Mr Quinn.

The King was also lauded by Kofi Anan, then Secretary-General of the United Nations, as the “Development King”, acknowledging his dedication to promote child health, combat iodine deficiency and increase access to education.

H.E. Boutros Boutros-Ghali presents a gift to H.M. the King, Chitralada Palace, 10 Apri 1993

At the same time, the United Nations Development Programme presented His Majesty the UNDP Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award “in recognition of the global relevance of his call for a sufficiency approach to development” (May, 2006).

More recently, the Budapest-based International Federation of Inventors’ Association (IFIA) presented the IFIA Cup 2007 for His Majesty’s Chai Pattana wheel used to treat water. The IFIA also presented its Genius Medal prize to honour His Majesty’s Self-Sufficiency Philosophy, and his New Theory, which revives farming techniques, based on Thai wisdom focusing on minimal use of resources but aiming for higher agricultural productivity.

To be continued…

Beautiful China, More than Pandas" Campaign in Chiang Mai

By Nopniwat Krailerg

The round and innocent faces, cute black eye patches, puffy and bulgy bodies...the naturally and irresistibly adorable giant panda is one of the most distinguished icons of China, having won the hearts of countless fans from around the world.

On September 24,2017  the "Beautiful China, More than Pandas" Sichuan tourism promotional campaign, which was hosted by the China National Tourism Administration and organized by the Sichuan Tourism Administration, arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The creative panda elements received widespread praises and swept the city by storm.

Chiang Mai is often referred to as "rose of the north" for its idyllic sceneries, serene mountains, tranquil waters and vibrant local folk culture. In 2003, Chinese pandas "Chuang Chuang" and "Lin Hui" relocated to the Chiang Mai Zoo, where a year later they gave birth to female cub "Lin Bing". The family of three is the apple in the eyes of all visitors, and they have risen in prominence as superstar animals among the Thai population.

On the afternoon of September 24,2017 in front of Maya Lifestyle Shopping Center, Chiang Mai the latest world-class mega mall to open in Chiang Mai, a passionate and aesthetically expressive "panda theme show" took to center stage. Many panda figures from Sichuan put on an electrifying dancing performance that stopped both locals and tourists right in their tracks, and the whole place was soon packed with people and pulsating with energy.

After the end of the "panda flash mob," visitors and tourists alike flocked to take photos with the panda figures, and after receiving Sichuan tourism promotion materials, they started to inquire from tourism staffs about vacationing in Sichuan.

The little panda DIY zone was equally popular. The different white panda models stimulated the imaginative spirit inside locals and students and many came to paint their own panda models. Their creativity were unleashed and a myriad of Thai style panda artworks soon came to being, which were appreciated and well-received by the crowd. The ensuing on-site selection and award presentation ceremony pushed the liveliness of the atmosphere to new height.

At the same time, as an integral part of the   "Beautiful China, More than Pandas" Sichuan tourism global promotional campaign, this time the "entering famous university" panda fans recruitment activity entered Chiang Mai University, and through online sign-up and on-site recruitment, a total of eight panda fans were added to the ranks. The fans of the panda will have the chance to head to Sichuan to tour the Panda Base.

This edition of the promotion campaign was a massive hit among local tourism industry professionals and the general population alike. The event was reported by almost 130 Chinese and foreign media, successfully instigating a wave of popularity in Sichuan tourism and instilling new vitality into the interaction and growth of the tourism markets and sectors of Sichuan and Thailand.


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Final goodbye to a most revered monarch

King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Legendary Royal Sailor (Part 1)

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Legendary Royal Sailor (Part 2)

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Legendary Royal Sailor (Part 3)

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Legendary Royal Sailor (Part 4)

A tribute to King Rama IX: The Royal Sportsman

In Loving Memory of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej

A year on, the Kingdom mourns

In Loving Memory of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great

Beautiful China, More than Pandas" Campaign in Chiang Mai


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