SINGAPORE - The Thai community in Singapore took time off to remember the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Friday (Oct 14), a day after his death.
The world's longest-reigning monarch died on Thursday at the age of 88. Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has declared a year-long period of mourning for the nation.
At the Thai Embassy along Orchard Road, the Thai flag was at half mast.
When The Straits Times visited around 10am, 15 students and four teachers from Ratwinit Bangkaeo School in Thailand, were waiting to enter the compound. Here on a seven-day summer camp until Sunday (Oct 16), the group had scheduled an excursion to the embassy before the news broke.
Coming out of the embassy afterwards, Mr Supakin Chongruangsab, managing director of SSG Thailand, the company organising the school trip, told The Straits Times he understands that the ambassador and officials in the embassy were all in a meeting.
"So we just sent our condolences to the official who attended to us."
According to a statement from the Royal Thai Embassy, a book of condolences will be opened for signing at the embassy at 370 Orchard Road from Monday (Oct 17) to Friday (Oct 21) from 10am to 12.30pm and 2pm to 4.30pm. Visitors can access the embassy through the Claymore Road entrance.
One school, St Francis Methodist School in Upper Bukit Timah Road , had given its Thai students the day off to pay respects to the late king, and around 33 of them turned up at the embassy. Principal Mrs Lennie Cho said the decision was made out of "compassion" for the students.
"We came here to pray for the king," said Stamp Promphan, 15.
"Almost all of us were crying when we woke up to the news this morning. He was a very important person, like our second dad. I never met him, but he's like one of our family members. I grew up knowing only him as king."
His schoolmate Pirapat Chaiya, 13, said he really wanted to come to the embassy to pay his respects.
"I want to pray for the King, that he goes to heaven. The school gave us one day off today, and told us to come to the Royal Thai Embassy, so we used Google maps to find our way here."
But the students could not enter the Thai embassy as the condolence book had not been set up. So they took a train to Wat Ananda Metyarama temple in Jalan Bukit Merah, to pray for the king.
Janephangphruck Buathongtanakarn, 16, said he prayed and offered joss sticks specifically for the king. When his final exams end on Tuesday (Oct 18), he will fly back to Thailand.
"When I'm back (in Thailand), I will wear black everyday, in memory of the king," he said.
Venerable Chao Khun Tepsiddhivides, head monk at Wat Ananda Metyarama, said the temple will hold five days of chanting, for the king, and everyone is welcome to join in.
Sessions will be from 7pm to 8pm, and all Thai monks in Singapore, numbering about 30, will be present.
On Saturday (Oct 15), religious leaders from other faiths such as Christianity, Hinduism and Islam, have been invited to join in the session.
"The tent is being set up now, and we will put a big picture of the king, and decorate it with flowers," said Venerable Tepsiddhivides.
Over at Club AURA, a Thai fusion club located in Orchard, a moment of silence was observed on Oct 13 before the start of business, with a staff member holding up a picture of King Bhumibol on stage.
Associate Professor Irving Johnson of the National University (NUS) Southeast Asian studies department, who has been painting murals in the main shrine of Uttamayanmuni Temple in Choa Chu Kang, the biggest of six Thai Buddhist temples here, said he is considering painting King Bhumibol into his ongoing mural project, to honour his memory.
"Right now there is no space on the walls. Because he is a king, he cannot be painted as an ordinary character. He must be given a prominent space in the Buddhist narrative, and painted in gold and red."