Krabi rejoices over Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn's first official trip outside Bangkok

Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn (right), during the opening ceremony of new provincial hall in Krabi province, southern Thailand, on Dec 9, 2016.
Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn (right), during the opening ceremony of new provincial hall in Krabi province, southern Thailand, on Dec 9, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

KRABI (The Nation/Asia News Network) - Thousands of people gathered at Krabi's new provincial hall and on the road leading to the building, chanting "Long live the King", as King Maha Vajiralongkorn arrived in the province on Friday (Dec 9) evening.

It marked the new monarch's first official trip outside the capital.

Rin Khirin, 86, brought her children and grandchildren to the side of Uttarakit Road yesterday to greet the 64-year-old King.

"I love all Thai Kings. I love King Rama X the way I love King Rama IX," the elderly native of Krabi said.

Sujin Kao-ian, 67, and his family live in Surat Thani province but decided to head to Krabi after learning the King was visiting the province. From nearby Phang Nga province, more than 500 people jumped on buses to get the chance to greet the monarch.

His Majesty was scheduled to preside over the inauguration of the new Krabi Provincial Hall yesterday.

He paid his respects at the Krabi City Shrine and also the statue of his late great grandfather, King Rama V, before inaugurating the new hall.

Wanpen Fangkhao, a 46-year-old resident of Krabi, said she was delighted that His Majesty visited her home province first.

"I love the King," she said. "Long Live the King."

Krabi Governor Pinij Boonlert and several government officials were on hand to greet the King. They had prepared a model of a Hua Thong boat, a symbol of Krabi, as a souvenir for him.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces will organise special events to honour HM King.

His Majesty was proclaimed the new monarch on Dec 1, succeeding his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej (King Rama IX) who passed away at the age of 89 on Oct 13.

"We are in the process of arranging the events," Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan said yesterday.

"All of the military personnel are delighted with His Majesty. And they would like to see Thailand have the monarchy institution forever. We need the monarchy to remain as the country's major institution. The monarchy has always taken good care of Thailand," Prawit said.

However, he said further discussions would take place to ensure that the events would be appropriate as the country was still mourning the passing of the late King.

In Phuket province, a parade of 171 sailboats took place in honour of His Majesty. They sailed past HTMS Klaeng, which represents the monarch, through an arrangement planned by the Phuket King's Cup Regatta.

The regatta is one of Asia's major boat races. It has been held every year for three decades in honour of King Rama IX, who was an accomplished sailboat maker.