BKK TRIP | Rahhala | By: Ahmed Belal:
When I arrived in Thailand at this time, I felt something wrong. Bangkok, the city known for happiness, and the interesting nightlife, was in black actually.
Firstly, all the people were wearing black clothes and putting black badges. Secondly, there were black clothes in the streets. Even the night girls disappeared greatly from the streets and massage centers.
What helped me to solve the puzzle, was the photos of the former Thai king which were everywhere in the streets and squares were surrounded by flowers.
The former Thai king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, (89 years old) died on 13 October 2016. Two weeks before I arrived in Bangkok.
BKK TRIP | Bangkok in black
The night’s darkness at that night didn’t allow me to discover more, but it was like an official sadness, or we can say popular sadness because of the death of the king.
I spent my first night in a small hostel in Khao San district. It’s the most attractive area in Bangkok for the backpackers who have the passion for discovering the world and recognizing peoples’ cultures.
However, my flight was a bit exhausting, I woke up at 8 o’clock in the morning to start my adventure in discovering this exciting Asian state.
As a foreigner, its normal to stop you, one of those whom working in tourism companies, to show you their tourist programs. Or a driver who wants to offer you him services. Or something else.
First day in Thailand : BKK TRIP
That is exactly what happened with me in my first day in Bangkok ( BKK TRIP ). One of them insisted on talking to me and suggesting places to visit in the Thai capital.
Whatever, I was very patient with him, it’s his job, from which he earns his living. But the situation had changed for me, when he said that the tourist tour – BKK TRIP and the Tok Tok were for free. At this time, I thought that I spoke with a fraudster, not a worker who wants to earn his living. So, I decided to leave.
If everything is for free, why you don’t give me this map for free too? I asked him, to end the conversation and leave. but he told me that he didn’t have another copy, but asked me to wait for him a little bit.
However, the man entered the police office, in Khao San street, then, came back with a police man holding another map. It was a little bit bad. It sounded used a lot before.
Tourism tours for free
The police man gave me the tourist map; then, asked me about which country I came from. he was very happy when he knew that I am from Egypt. Then, he started to plan a tourist program ( BKK TRIP )for me on the map, moreover, told me that I could ride any Tok Tok or bus for free!
Is Thailand so bad as policemen cooperate with fraudsters to steal foreigners? I asked myself then. Probably, the policeman noticed that there were doubts in my head. So he asked me to move with him, stopped a Tok Tok driver, wrote his name and his mobile number on the map, and ordered the driver to move with me. “don’t pay any thing, the bkk trip is for free”, told me before he left.
On my way to Intharawihan temple. I asked the driver, who put a black badge on his clothes, about the reason which caused Tok Tok and buses to work for free, referring to the black clothes in Bangkok streets, also to his black badge, the driver told me that it was a mourning on the former Thai king, who died last month.
BKK TRIP | Intharawihan temple in Bangoko
Whatever, when I had arrived to my first destination in Bangkok, I asked the driver about how long he could wait for me. But the driver answered with a smile: till you finish your tour!
Intharawihan temple is one from many Buddhist temples, scattered everywhere in Thailand, because of about 95% from the Thai people are Buddhists, however, the Thai constitution ensures that Thailand is for all its citizens as it didn’t speak about an official religion for the country.
After the death of the former Thai king, Bhumibol Adulyadej. Thailand declared an official mourning for one year; additionally, the Thai government declared mourning procedures for the first month.
The procedures included: free transportation, stopping the normal program in all TV channels, and presenting only photos and documentaries about the former king and his family.
Moreover, the Thai government decided to stop the “entertainment activities”. and ordered the citizens to wear black clothes, which almost finished in the markets, and its prices were rocketing, what caused satisfaction with a black badge on the clothes. Also, the government started to observe the prices of black clothes in the markets.
BKK TRIP | Funeral ritual around Grand Palace
However, I decided to exit from this funeral ritual. I remembered a Thai saying says that: “you didn’t visit Thailand, if the Grand Palace wasn’t in your tourism program”. So, I decided to visit it in my BKK TRIP.
Grand Palace, is one from the most important sightseeing in Bangkok, and the official headquarters of the Thai kings from the nineteenth century. In spite of my decision to exit the funeral ritual, I found myself in front of the funeral itself!
In my way to the Grand Palace, I surprised by a human flood in black clothes. Otherwise, thousands of citizens were waiting to take a farewell look at the former king, before they exit in a terrible scene, continued for a whole month.
On the other hand, Thai army and the police closed the streets around the Grand Palace to the cars, while it was being surrounded by thousands of citizens. among them delegations from schools, universities, and all the frameworks, came from everywhere in the country.
BKK TRIP | Foods and drinks for free
All the citizens were carrying flowers and the formers king photos which were distributed to them. I was one of them, then. Around Grand Palace, one of Egyptian customs was presented. It was the “Rahma Wa Nor” (mercy and light). This is how we call distributing the food by the dead family for helping him to enter the paradise.
Beside a great photo for the former king surrounded by flowers. and prostrated some of citizens in front of it, there were many tents to distribute different foods to the citizens for free. Moreover, let me tell you, it was from all the kinds of food in Thai cuisine.
Additionally, they distributed bottles of water, juices, and fruits. In fact, I was lucky, in my BKK TRIP, because I shared them in the “Rahma Wa nor” distributed as mourning for the former king. It was the lunch time, and there were no cars to go to any restaurant, but in fact. I continued the whole week to take free foods and drinks as “Rahma Wa Nor”, to help the former king too to enter the paradise!
On the other side, a lot of citizens were in other tents to write memorial books. Their words and wishes were for the formal king. Also, there were other tents in the temples and parks to speak with the citizens about the history of Bhumibol Adulyadej.
BKK TRIP | Hair cutting and medical services for free
Moreover, the Thai army was present strongly, not only to protect the people and the Grand Palace, but also to distribute food, water, juices and fruits. For example, the Thai royal navy, established some of tents in front of Grand Palace to offer free services for the people such as hair cutting and medical services.
Moreover, the Thai army offered different foods and drinks. Among them were the roses water, which we called in Egypt “Sharbat”, and distributed it to express joy and happiness.
Shortly, Thai people lived a whole month in sadness and mourning, before it recovers its normal face, with its exhilarating colors. But, probably, the matter was different for the poor people there and for me too with the free foods, drinks, and services. That exactly what I was thinking about before I asking Khao San bus driver about the ticket price. He answered: for free!