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Buddha: " Whenever you see things, just see. Whenever you listen, just listen. Whenever you know, just know."

The Royal Barge Procession, November 2007,
Chao Phraya River, Bangkok.

On Monday 5th November 2007 in the late afternoon Bangkokians and visitors received a rare treat, when they turned out in huge numbers to observe the regal grandeur of the Royal Barge procession on the Chao Phraya River, between the royal pier by the National Library and Wat Arun.

Spectator areas along both sides of the river were fully occupied for the Royal Kathin ceremony, where the Buddhist Moonkhood is symbolically presented with new robes at the end of lent. The flotilla consisted of 52 barges and more than 2,000 Royal Thai Navy oarsmen, officers and officials.

His Majesty the King, King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) was in hospital, recovering from 'weakness’ and requested that HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn presided over the ceremony in his stead.

The Chao Phraya River to all intents and purposes was closed and all civilian water transport was barred from operating for most of the day. Motorists were not allowed to cross Phra Pinklao Bridge between 15.00 and 16.00 when the barges were scheduled to pass beneath.

Traditionally, the Thai king takes his place on the royal barge Suphannahongse, or "Golden Swan", to deliver new saffron robes to monks in a ceremony marking the end of Buddhist Lent.

We were at Wat Arun, just 50 metres away from the Royal landing stage, for the duration of the afternoon. About 15.30 we saw the flotilla in the distance, rounding the bend opposite the Siriraj Hospital, about a kilometer away, and heard the beat of the time keeper’s drums and poles, the sound of chanting from the boats and calls of the oarsmen, the timbre of the ensemble resounded through your body and soul.

The burnished gold and mirrored finish of the boats reflecting the bright sunshine onto the water changed the usually murky grey water of the Chao Phraya into a river of light.

The whole event was deemed to be a great success by everyone that saw it.


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