Venturing out on a clear, beautiful, almost-cool Saturday night in Bangkok, Brad and I thought we’d just “walk by” the Royal Crematorium built for the beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej and snap a few pictures, from the street. The crematorium took over a year to build with artisans from the Traditional Arts Office creating all the intricate details. You can find a detailed account of the history and construction here. The crematorium is scheduled to be dismantled at the end of this month.
So dressed in shorts and a tank top – because we were just going to snap a few pictures, from the street (not sure why I thought this was a possibility) – we hopped out of our car leaving my purse inside. We strolled past blocks and blocks and blocks of people queuing to get inside – because we were just going to snap a few pictures, from the street. As we neared the crematorium, we began to realize our mistake. Oops.
Not wanting to jump the queue (again), we found a much shorter line and joined it. Pretty sure it was an “official groups” line since the 30 people ahead of us were in matching pink polos, but being foreigners you sometimes get away with things. At the first checkpoint we hit a snag. Inappropriately dressed. (Of course, I knew this, but again we were just going to snap a few pictures!) They directed us to the astute entrepreneurs across the street. A Thai tunic imprinted with elephants and two pairs of elephant pants later (the guy convinced Brad he needed a pair even though Brad was certain his shorts were fine), we rejoined the now longer short line.
Checkpoint #2 – You needed to hold up your identification at the security camera. My purse is in the car. (see above) But lo and behold, Brad has our passports on his phone! He shows his and waltzes in. I just follow, unidentified.
Checkpoint #3 – Brad gets flagged, and we once again have to step out of line while he puts on his pants. Now appropriately dressed Brad plows ahead. I can hear “Murmur, murmur farang. Murmur, murmur farang.” (white foreigner) Me: “Brad. Brad. BRAD!” Brad flashed his most innocent smile, which always endears him to others, and all was forgiven as we were allowed into the line. (Of course they were unaware of our previous line-jumping transgressions.)
Checkpoint #4 – We have to sign in as foreigners then ease ourselves back into line. From here we’re ushered into one of thousands of white, plastic chairs – musical chair style. At this point I’m just plain confused. But there was means to their madness, and after a short wait, we were up and moving onto the crematorium grounds.
It was worth the wait. Now, finding our driver again was another story. First world problems.