For many Pattaya-area Thais, the lengthy trip to Bangkok and long lines at the Dusit Palace meant they could pay respects to the late King Bhumibol once or twice. Maleewan Ketkaptan did it 63 times.
The Banglamung Red Cross member told the Thai-language Manager Online she had hoped to make the journey 109 times before King Rama IX’s is cremated on Oct. 26, but her work schedule and the end to the royal viewing schedule thwarted her.
Maleewan said she made most of her trips on Tuesdays, the day of the week she was born, and waited up to nine hours to enter the throne hall where the late monarch laid in state until Oct. 5. She said she was caught off guard by the Oct. closure by the Royal Household Bureau, but came to understand they needed time to prepare for the final funeral ceremonies.
The 52-year-old acknowledged she was more passionate in paying respects to the King than most, but said her devotion was born of admiration of all that he did for the Thai people and the fact her mother took her to meet him when she was a child.
Throughout her life Maleewan said she collected items honoring the King, including coins, bank notes, photos and book sets.
Her final duty for the late the King, Maleewan said, will be to walk to Bangkok for the Oct. 26 ceremony with hopes she can lay artificial flowers on the funeral pyre. She said she knows she will have to camp outside overnight and could face rain or other adversity, but she said it was worth it to be as close to her “father” as possible one last time.