Thai King leaves hospital to visit Bangkok palace

BANGKOK • Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej left hospital yesterday to visit his Bangkok palace, his first such outing since he was admitted last year.

His trip to the Chitralada Palace followed an announcement on Sunday that the 88-year-old was recovering from a blood infection and swollen lung.

King Bhumibol, the world's longest-serving monarch, has been in hospital since May and has received treatment for multiple illnesses. Nervousness over his health and succession has formed the backdrop to a decade of political crisis in Thailand.

In a trip lasting around an hour, the monarch paid a visit to a pond as well as other "projects" in the palace compound before returning to the hospital, according to a palace official.

The King, who came to the throne in 1946, is widely revered, and his absence during an annual audience to mark his birthday on Dec 5 heightened anxiety over his health. But he made a rare public appearance on Dec 14. He has been mostly confined to hospital since 2009, although he did spend some time at a seaside palace in Hua Hin.

Hundreds of people lined the streets around the hospital as the king left in a van, wearing a Hawaiian-style shirt, according to a Reuters reporter. Some shouted "Long live the King".

"This is the best opportunity in my life to see him," said 49-year-old Nuananong Sripai. "I'm worried about his sickness and hope he will get better soon."

Few details about the King's health are given out by the palace.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2016, with the headline 'Thai King leaves hospital to visit Bangkok palace'. Print Edition | Subscribe