The Royal Barge Procession was the final event of the Coronation of His Majesty King Rama X. It’s an extremely rare event reserved for the river journeys of Kings in royal ceremonies. For many people, this was a ‘once in a lifetime’ chance to see a ceremony like this. When we heard that the Royal Barge Procession had been rescheduled from October 24 to December 12, we immediately made plans to be in Bangkok to see it. Gordon chose a guesthouse within walking distance to Rama VIII park, one of six locations where the public was allowed to view the procession.
The procession was scheduled to commence at 3:30 and we knew it was in our best interest to get to the park early because there would be large crowds. After we ate breakfast we walked to the park to see what what was going on. When we arrived we were immediately ushered through several security protocols. First we stood in front of a camera holding the picture page of our passport beside our face (in the background some officials were snapping phone pics of us because we were foreigners visiting). Then we went through a security bag check, another passport check where we were given a number on a sticker to place on ourselves, then a little card with the letter I which designated the group we would be seated with, then a camera check, and finally we were each handed a bottle of water and taken to a seating area to wait. We were surprised that the event volunteers handed out a hot lunch to everyone in attendance as well as yellow umbrellas – yellow is His Majesty the King’s birthday colour. There were also nurses and other medical personnel walking around checking on the elderly to ensure all was okay.
We waited a long time with thousands of Thai people and in the process we made some new friends. This particular venue was a very local venue, we only saw a few other foreigners. We were graciously received by the Thai people around us, so much so that they were offering us snacks out of their bags, making conversation with us, ensuring we were comfortable, squeezing us in so that we would have a good view of the procession, and taking photos of us. This is one of the main reasons why we love this country – it’s the people!
At last we heard trumpets sound and cannons being fired, it was time for the procession. There were 52 barges arranged in 5 groupings with 2,200 oarsmen. The first group of barges were performing rhythmic rowing songs.
Everyone started waving their flags and chanting “thrng phra ceriy” (long live the king) as His Majesty the King was carried on what is considered to be the most beautiful royal barge – ‘Suphannahong’.
The procession continued down the Chao Phraya River to the Ratchaworadit pier near the Grand Palace. From this pier a land procession was held carrying His Majesty the King on the Royal Palanquin to the Grand Palace. Everyone was welcome to stay at the park and watch this on a large screen.
The night before the Royal Barge Procession we walked over the Pinklao bridge to Sanam Luang to see the Father’s Day display. There were replicas of the 4 royal barges and several stalls set up for food and drinks.
There was a beautiful display honouring King Rama IX. The Grand Palace is seen in the background.
We were honoured to share in this special occasion with the Thai people!
Where we stayed: Sunset Residence 👍