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Loyal Thais flock to city for a glimpse

Many camping out for days, while some citizens fly in from overseas

Yellow-clad Thais have been camping out in front of the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall for several days with one purpose - to express their love and loyalty to their much-revered monarch on his birthday.

Turning 85 today, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej will receive best wishes from his subjects from the throne hall's balcony.

This special moment will be televised and the sea of yellow will blossom to affirm how united Thais are in their overwhelming loyalty to their king.

Yellow is the colour associated with the King's birthday.

Since His Majesty ascended the throne more than 60 years ago, he has been devoted to his people and launched a number of projects to improve their wellbeing. To his people, he is not just a paternal figure but also the soul of the nation.

"Who else would have worked so hard for his country and his people?" Piyanart Boonchalerm said. "I really wish His Majesty a long, happy life."

The 34-year-old woman decided to close her beauty salon for three days and sleep in front of the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall since Monday.

Piyanart is not alone. Many of her friends and strangers have been doing the same. Well-wishers have come from not just various provinces but also various countries.

Sirirat Boonruang, 65, flew back to Thailand three months ago because she wanted to wish His Majesty a happy birthday.

"I will sleep here tonight. I have surveyed the site before because I really wish to be among the crowds of well-wishers when His Majesty appears in front of the balcony. I want to be a small yellow dot there," she said.

Yingluck Tisulanon, 69, flew from Ireland to be a small yellow dot too.

"I wish to get a glimpse of His Majesty again," she said.

The well-wishers from provinces such as Ayutthaya, Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani, mostly arrived in large groups.

Every now and then, they waved flags and shouted "Long Live the King" with happy smiles.

Despite the sweltering heat, the yellow-clad people watched as officials installed giant screens and erected tents for them yesterday.

The screens will let well-wishers who are physically far from the balcony see His Majesty up close.

Metropolitan Police Division 1 commander Maj-General Wichan-chat Borirakkul said police would allow people to file in from the Royal Plaza to the Democracy Monument.

Small dots of yellow are spreading far and wide in the country today. In every corner, someone in yellow can be spotted.

Yellow shirts were selling like hot cakes ahead of the King's birthday.

"People are clearly looking for yellow clothes," said Chutima Thiradechakij, a clothes vendor, in Nakhon Ratchasima, "I have enjoyed a very brisk trade".

Merit-making ceremonies, mass ordinations and prayer rites are also being conducted across the country in honour of His Majesty.

Chotikarn Wipatwilai, 55, said she was excited when December arrived because she always looked forward to the King's birthday.

"Out of my gratitude for him, I have the resolution to be a good citizen. I wish His Majesty good health and long life," she said.










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