This week, Thailand is celebrating and mourning the life and passing of King Bhumibol, with a cremation ceremony one year after his death. I've traveled to Thailand many times over the past 23 years and always felt greatly impressed by the love people displayed for their King. By learning more about his many accomplishments - especially with environmental stewardship, I began to understand the people's devotion.
I experienced first hand the great accomplishments of the King regarding environmental and economic development. In 1994, I traveled to several Asian countries as a tourist and no where else did I feel so warmly greeted with great kindness as in Thailand - the Land of 1000 Smiles. One of the first things that I noticed was the caring and respect for family and especially the elders, the lack of homelessness, and genuine generosity.
I traveled with an American doctor friend who volunteered at a hospital in Bangkok. When I saw the newspaper of an environmental conference in honor of the King to be held near Pattaya, I knew I had to go. The conference displayed technology from many countries for air and water purification and ways to improve agriculture. I became very impressed with the many accounts that I heard for the King's direct involvement and creativity to improve the lives of Thai people. One example I observed was the way he worked with rural farmers to improve rice crops, reduce flooding, and clean water.