Thais in Malaysia prepare for King Bhumibol's final farewell

To bid their late King Bhumibol Adulyadej goodbye, the Thai community in Perak are also busy preparing for a religious ceremony at a Siamese temple in Ipoh. The ceremony will be held on Thursday at the same time as his royal cremation in Thailand. At least 1,000 people are expected to turn up at the Siamese temple for the ceremony.VIDEO: THE STAR

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - At 4pm on Thursday (Oct 26), some 1,000 Thai natives in Ipoh City are expected to turn up for a religious ceremony at the Wat Siribunyamagaram Siamese Temple on Jalan Raja Dihilir to pay their last respects.

The ceremony is going to be held at the same time as King Bhumibol's Royal Cremation ceremony in Bangkok.

Thai volunteer Rattiya Bedi, who has been living here for two decades, said they had prepared around 400 artificial dok mai chan (funeral cremation flowers) to be sent to the Thai capital.

Ms Rattiya, 41, was seen arranging an altar for the late king with other volunteers and devotees, using layers of black and white cloth to make it funeral-appropriate.

"He's the greatest king anybody could ask for. He has done so much for the Thais. He even sacrificed his personal wealth to help build bridges and roads to develop rural areas in the country," Ms Rattiya said, adding that she regretted not being able to return to her hometown in Bangkok for the ceremony.

Another volunteer, Ms Datchanee Kinlek, 43, had a hard time saying goodbye to a man she knew as the "father of all Thais".

"Since I was born, I kept hearing of the good deeds he has done for our people. I can't explain this deep love we have for him. We are proud to have had a great king," she said.

 
 

Homemaker Sakhon Saleesongsom put on a black ribbon pin to mourn her beloved king. The 49-year-old from Chiang Rai still fastens the pin to her clothes, in a daily expression of devotion. "It was very heart-wrenching and I still can't believe one year has passed by so quickly," said Ms Sakhon, who has lived in Malaysia for 30 years.

Project manager Justin Ng is now in Thailand to attend the ceremony with his wife Laddapron Kongied. He spent six months working in Thailand in 2010 and since then, has grown fond of the people there. "I came to understand how much Thais love and respect their king," he said.

Boutique owner Toi See Luon chose to travel to Thailand to be part of the "once-in-a-lifetime event".

"The Thais are so deeply steeped in tradition. I've always been fascinated with the royal family there," said the 58-year-old.