Samui Wining & Dining
By Royal Decree
A genuine love for King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s
people has benefited both locals and visitors to Thailand.

 

By Royal DecreeHis Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand is the world’s longest reigning current monarch and the world’s longest serving head of state. And, perhaps by some distance, the most loved and revered monarch in the world. Known around the globe for his philanthropic works, the Thai people have benefited enormously from his genuine demonstrable love for his country and those that live in it.

 

He was born on the 5th of December 1927 in the USA, where his father was studying at Harvard University at the time. After briefly attending school in Bangkok, his mother enrolled him at a prestigious school in Switzerland. Later he chose to enter Lausanne University to study science, but the sudden death of his elder brother, King Ananda Mahidol, in Bangkok on the 9th of June, 1946, changed the course of his life completely, for the Law of Succession bestowed on him the arduous but challenging task of bearing the Thai Crown. The government, on behalf of the people, came to ask the Princess Mother for her other son to be their King. As he had not finished his education, His Majesty decided to go back to Switzerland to complete his study, but this time in the subject of Political Science and Law in order to equip himself for his future role in government.

 

It wasn’t until the 5th of May 1950 that his actual coronation took place. And during that ceremony the King had to pronounce the Oath of Accession to the Throne that all Thai Kings proclaim. In it he says, “We will reign with righteousness, for the benefits and happiness of the Siamese people.” Since then, more than 3,000 development projects have been initiated by the King and implemented throughout the country, most of them aimed at improving the living conditions of his subjects – especially those in the remote rural areas.

 

Following the completion of his education in Switzerland in the early 1950s, His Majesty returned home to Thailand. In the years following, he began what became his way of life – travelling throughout the year to the provinces and rural areas of the Kingdom to visit his people, talk to them and, as importantly, listen to them. He learned first hand of their needs and their problems and then set about trying to find a way of giving immediate help; later these problems were studied in depth to find a permanent solution or way of assistance.

 

Known as The Royal Development Projects, they are divided into eight categories according to the sector of the economy that is targeted: agriculture, environment, public health, occupational promotion, water resources, public welfare, communications and other non-specific areas. They can also be classified according to how they are related to His Majesty.

 

Some are ‘Projects initiated according to His Majesty’s wishes’. These are the projects in which the King conducts study and experiments himself. They are based on the recommendations of experts and carried out with his private funds in the early stages. Once the projects have yielded satisfactory results, His Majesty passes them onto the government for further development. All these projects originate from the frequent and extensive trips he makes to all regions of the Kingdom.

 

Others are called ‘The Royal Projects’. They are the private projects of Their Majesties the King and Queen, such as the ‘Crop Substitution Project’ in the North, which aimed to halt opium cultivation, deforestation and the slash and burn cultivation method traditionally used by the hill tribes. His Majesty has given them advice and assistance on the planting of cool climate fruits and flowers for a better income. In addition, hundreds of irrigation projects have helped maintain sustainable crop growth in the major agricultural parts of the country.


There’re also those which are ‘Projects Under Royal Patronage’. These are projects operated by the private sector using their own financial, technical and human resources and based on His Majesty’s advice and guidelines. They include the Thai Encyclopaedia for Youth Project, the Dictionary Project and the Din Daeng Cooperative Village Development Project. In order to facilitate the implementation of the Royal Development Projects, His Majesty initiated the establishment of six Royal Development Study Centres. They’re intended to serve as living natural museums where interested people can come to observe and gain knowledge from the real thing. The Six Centres are located in Chiang Mai in the North, Chachoengsao, Phetchaburi and Chantaburi in the Central Plains, Sakon Nakhon in the Northeast and Narathiwat in the South.

 

One of the most famous projects is a favourite on the tourist trail. Hong Noi village in Chiang Mai, in the north of Thailand, was established in 1942 by people from the Hmong ethnic group. Their main crops were opium poppy, maize and rice and, following a visit in 1972, His Majesty the King recommended alternative agriculture in part to stem a growing worldwide problem with drug abuse. He was instrumental in setting up the Nong Hoi Royal Project Development Centre in 1986 and today it’s one of the largest producers of vegetables for the Royal Project marketing division. And it’s also a research centre for herb and vegetable production located about a 45-minute drive from downtown Chiang Mai.

 

Visitors can experience the lifestyles, festivals and traditional ceremonies of the Hmong, Yao, Lisu and Haw (Chinese) tribes. In addition to vegetables and herbs, the project also has plantations of plums, grapes, strawberries and cab gooseberries as well as herbs such as rosemary, mint, lemon balm and chamomile. It’s also famous for its hydroponic vegetables such as red oak leaves, doi kham tomatoes and vegetables for salads. Their restaurant is well-known for its fresh tea made from seven kinds of Thai, Chinese and western herbs and Hmong hill tribe handicrafts are also available for sale.

 

His Majesty the King says that he has been doing it in the way of Sangha Dana, that is, giving for the sake of giving, giving indiscriminately and not expecting anything in return. With this principle, he has not only changed the lives of millions, he has endeared himself to a grateful nation for all time. His interventions have allowed many Thais to put food on their tables. And in turn put fresh, local produce on your table every time you dine out in Thailand.

 

Johnny Paterson

 


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