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The annual King's Cup Regatta continued to pay tribute on the King's Birthday to the nation's most respected sailor.

The King and a Famous Drink

Tuesday, November 27, 2007
IT'S A FAMOUS photograph, perhaps the most famous from the King's 1959 visit to Phuket.

A young girl is giving the King a glass of soft drink. The King is accepting the glass gratefully, happily.

He seems to be smiling.

In the glass was some soft drink, a local brand called Bilit, which has long since vanished, replaced in modern times by Fanta and Coke.

The young girl has passed on, too. Her name was Koey Junnongrat, and she lived in Patong village when the King came by on that special day.

The story continues to be passed on by her daughter, Pradab, 67, who still lives in Patong village. Her mother died a few years back.

Khun Pradab says that on the day the King made his surprise visit, her mother heard someone shouting: ''The King has come! The King has come!''

Her mother crossed the road from her house to the local shop, where she bought a bottle of Bilit. As the King and her excited neighbours reached the waterfall, Khun Koey caught up with them.

At the base of the falls, she offered the King the glass of Bilit. He looked happy and said: ''Should I drink all of this?''

Khun Koey said he should, but it was a big glass and he left a little undrunk.

For many years afterwards, Khun Koey kept the glass and the small amount of liquid it contained. She put the glass up high on a shelf.

Over the years, the liquid disappeared. And eventually, a sad day came when the glass was accidentally broken.

But the memory of that day and the King's smile for the young girl with the drink lives on.

About 10 years ago, the King's daughter, HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, visited Phuket to open Patong public library.

Friends of Khun Pradab telephoned her to say the famous photo was in an exhibition at the library.

A member of the princess's staff later gave the photo to Khun Pradab, the first time she had owned a copy.

Even more memorable, the aide came to Khun Pradab's home, where her mother once lived, to hear the story of the King and the glass of Bilit.


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Friday February 23, 2024
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