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Prayers are offered at the Big Buddha on Phuket on the King's Birthday before the first marble whorl of hair is lifted up.

The King's Surprise Visit

Tuesday, November 27, 2007
WHEN HM The King visited Phuket in March 1959, locals turned out to see him at every opportunity.

But Lamun Piromrit was pregnant, so she stayed at home in Patong when her husband headed off to Phuket Town because he wanted to see the King.

But it so happened that the King decided to break with formality and drove to Patong to see people there.

His car stopped outside Khun Lamun's house, near Patong's Buddhist temple. The road wasn't very good, so that was far enough for the royal vehicle.

You can imagine Khun Lamun's surprise to see such a sight.

''Oh! The King'' she cried. She was dressed in just a sarong. She quickly covered her shoulders with a blue towel, and bowed low.

Dispensing with formality, the King confirmed his identity. He urged her to stand up and soon the two were talking about daily life in Patong.

Before long, a neighbor was leading His Royal Highness to see the waterfall where the villagers bathed and washed their clothes.

Memories of that special day are ingrained in those who were there. Khun Lamun is now more than 80, confined to bed and cannot speak.

But the story she has told many times down the years is remembered well by her son Thep, whom she was carrying at the time, and her daughter, Noansri.

Khun Noansri, who lives just a few doors from the old family house, alongside Khun Thep, now takes care of her mother.

She was five years old when the King visited the village. When the King visited a second time about 10 years later, she recalls that there were many more people with him.

On his second visit, the King officiated at a ceremony where his first visit was marked by an inscribed stone, close to the spot where he met Khun Lamun.

Today the Piromrit family still live in Patong. But some things have changed. Lately, access to the waterfall that the King visited has been made more difficult.

Concrete and construction material now hides the beauty of the falls and blue pipes run off in various directions.

It is no longer the natural way it was when the King visited.

Villagers are not able to explain why the waterfall hasn't been kept in its natural condition.

Still, they enjoy their memories of the day the King came to visit.


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