Thousands of people will today attend the government’s grand reception at the Royal Plaza to thank all those involved in the search and rescue operations of 12 Wild Boar soccer players and their football coach assistant from the flooded Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai from June 23 to July 11.
Among those attending will be the Australian rescue team led by anaesthetist Dr Richard Harris, more than 3,000 Chiang Rai residents and 10 rock climbers from Krabi’s Railay Bay.
Harris and the Australian rescue team members on Wednesday had a meeting with national police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda and police inspector-general Pol General Suchat Theerasawat about further possible rescue cooperation in future.
Chakthip is asking motorists to avoid the area around the venue in order to ensure a smooth traffic flow for those attending the reception and enhance security at the event.
The reception, held under the official theme of “United As One” to emphasise the power of unity which goes beyond any differences in race or nationality, will take place at the Dusit Palace courtyard and the Royal Plaza.
Meanwhile, about 3,400 people, including 2,000 from the Mae Sai district where the Tham Luang cave is located, are scheduled to reach the capital by road at 2pm today. The Chiang Rai Transport Office has already checked the condition of the 72 buses to be used to ensure their safe travel.
In the southern province of Krabi, seven members of the Railay Bay rock climbing group got onboard a van in front of City Hall on Wednesday morning while several others drove privately to Bangkok for the occasion.
Group representative Suthee Sommart said he and his fellow climbers were proud to have been invited to attend the reception and was grateful for His Majesty King Rama X’s kindness in having the government host it.
He and his team were also looking forward to once again seeing the 13 youths, for whom the search and rescue operation was mounted.
In a related development, 25-year-old Phra Ekapol Wisarntho (aka the assistant coach Ekapol Chanthawong) told a Department of Religious Affairs-hosted seminar in Bangkok on Wednesday that his previous meditation training during novice years from the age of 8 to 21 had played a big part in him surviving the ordeal.
He said the training had kept him calm and his mind focused, and in turn this had helped the kids – whom he also taught to apply the technique – while they waited for rescuers.
He therefore urged people to practise meditation at temples around the country.