Just like in America, when the President of the United States is in your town things change, roads close, barricades are put up and there is a large military presence for their protection. Well.........almost like in America.
From the roof of our condo we have watched the placement of 7 massive statues of the Kings of Thailand in a new park.
Ratchapakdi Park south of Hua Hin was the start/finish line of a bike ride event lead by Princess Pa to raise funds for completion of the park. Many of the participants were military and their friends and family.
After the ride there was a concert and fireworks on the beach.
This was a test firework the night before and is our favorite because of the clear sky and reflection in the ocean and pond on the golf course.
His Royal Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej is loved by the people deeply and when a member of the Royal Family is nearby there are also many of the Royal Guard. We saw a sign in the elevator of our condo that said the military had permission to use the roof for 48 hours. Hmmm.......how are we going to have our morning coffee and watch the sunrise and sunset on the roof ? So we asked in the main office and they said, “No, cannot.”
It is time to watch the sunset and we just had to see if it was at all possible to be on the roof. Sure enough, there were other people using the pool and lounging around while Sakhon and Noom (More on first names in a minute) were busy with their radios and binoculars watching out over the golf course and beach for any signs of trouble.
They smiled, said hello and we stayed until dark. Sakhon was interested in Vince's pictures and we exchanged looking at each others albums on our phones. We said good night and went downstairs shaking our heads.....”That was different!”
In the morning we made two extra cups of coffee and brought fruit upstairs hoping to be able to have our coffee with the sunrise. It was still dark and when Sakhon saw us he said, “Come! Come!” We gave him the coffee and fruit and he said in a very shocked voice, “For me?” He was genuinely surprised.
As we enjoyed our coffee overlooking the ocean we could hear their spoons gently clinking as they stirred in cream and sugar and it made us very happy. The sun was almost up when Sakhon came over to say thank you. We each managed pretty well with our limited Thai and English. He asked us the usual questions, “Where are you from?” “When do you go back?” “Why do you like Thailand?” “How old are you?” “Can I take your picture?”
At one point he said, “I like Green Bay!? Wow, he knows about the Green Bay Packers? Then he pulled a patch with velcro on the back from under the collar of his uniform and held it next to another patch on the outside of his uniform and said, “Same Same!” “I train with Green Bay they are strong!” Vince and I glanced at each other nearly cocking our head like a dog would.....Huh? So we nodded vigorously to him and gave him the thumbs up sign......which works every time! We realized later in the morning that he meant he trained in America with the GREEN BERETS! Yes, the United States Army Special Forces! And here we are chatting up the Royal Guard Special Forces for the King of Thailand! He told us that on each building on our street there are two soldiers for 48 hours.
Each time we were on the roof we watched as they talked on the radio to the other men in the area and at one point they both ran to the edge of the roof. We looked where their binoculars were pointing and they were checking out a groundskeeper under a tree getting into the irrigation box! They had their eyes everywhere.
We learned his name is Sakhon and he is a Master Sergeant and Noom is a Private. Sakhon is 53 years old and has two grown boys and they are both soldiers. He was born in Prachauap Khiri Khan and now lives in Bangkok. He wanted to take pictures with us and was so happy to meet us. We showed up that same evening for sunset and stayed till after dark waiting for the fireworks show. At 10 pm we decided to go to bed. But promptly at midnight we awoke to the boom of the fireworks and Vince rushed to the window. We were surprised that the fireworks only lasted 5 minutes but glad we saw them from our window. The next morning Sakhon and Noom were gone without a trace.
Vince and I can only compare with what we know, have seen or experienced and we have said many times, “That would have never happened in the US!” Which is not to say it is a good or bad thing, just very different. I imagine the security was tighter around the Princess but our presence on the roof was no cause for concern and they were still doing their job. The relaxed and genuine openness was a nice change.