Tourists in Thailand are in a state of perplexity following the death of the country’s beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died at the age of 88 in a Bangkok.
The Thai government has announced a year-long mourning period.
For at least the first 30 days, people have been asked to refrain from all kinds of entertainment and related events, which attract around 30 million international visitors every year to the country. In fact, Bangkok beat London, Paris and Dubai to become the city most visited by international travelers this year, according to the annual ranking by MasterCard.
So, naturally, cultural sensitivity has inevitably become an issue in the current, emotionally charged atmosphere.
Angry mobs are reportedly confronting those they believe are not showing the appropriate amount of respect to the late monarch, especially over clothes.
The reports of such incidents even prompted an official statement from Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who asked people to calm down, citing a possible shortage of black clothes in the market.
“The prime minister wants people to understand each other and sympathize with the limits faced by each individual,” said Lieutenant General Sansern Kaewkamnerd.
Even mannequins in some Bangkok stores were photographed wearing black in the wake of the king’s death.
No one is being stopped from wearing swimwear but it’s discouraged. Also, there will be no beach parties for the next 30 days.
Online policing laws, especially with respect to the royal family, are already very strict. Liking a meme critical of the king can get you 32 years in jail. One can only imagine how worse it would be during the mourning period. (Even Facebook has decided to shut down its ad program currently.)
A Thai woman accused of insulting the country's late king on social media was forced to kneel before his portrait at a police station on the tourist island of Samui.
Concerned by the latest reports, the United Kingdom quickly advised its citizens to "if possible, wear somber and respectful clothing when in public; check local media regularly and follow the advice of the local authorities.”
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Issei Kato