Thai students said they were distraught after the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, the longest reigning monarch in the world, according to BBC.
Khanitta Puttpong, a junior studying TESOL from Thailand, said, “My brother texted me the news and I didn’t know what to do. Even though I am not close to him, I cried.”
King Adulyadej passed away at the age of 88 on Oct. 13 after 70 years of being part of the monarchy, according to BBC. Thai students compared the late king to England’s. “We have a king and queen but they don’t have political power,” said Benjamin Kaivalvatana, a senior from Thailand studying hospitality and tourism management.
“He is the soul of the nation. He is everything for us,” said Kaivalvatana. He explained the king was more to the people of Thailand than just another political face. “We feel that the king is like our country’s father and an activist to make life better for his people.”
Puttpong said the king’s example impacted his life and his family. “One thing that I like is he teaches us how we can live a simple life,” she said. “Money is not everything. You can plant your rice and live a happy life. My mom used that teaching from him and that is how we lived.”
Kaivalvatana also shared a story of how conservative the king was. The king would cut his tube of toothpaste open when it ran low. He would scrape out every last bit so none was wasted.”
“He even turned his palace into a place where people can come and learn about agriculture,” added Kaivalvatana. “It’s surrounded by rice fields and pig farms, for people to study agriculture.”
As part of the Buddhist culture, the whole country will visibly morn the loss of the king for the next year, said Kaivalvatana.
Puttpong said, “My mom told me they are going to wear black for the whole year. We will wear black if possible but if not, we have ribbons to wear. They also announced there will be no parties for a whole month.”