I had forgotten what happens at 6pm every evening in Thailand.
The breeze gently blew my hair back as I soaked in the balmy evening and the city of Chiang Rai slowly drift by from the comfort of my tricycle seat.
My elderly, yet fit driver, weaved in and out of traffic, pointing out elaborate golden clock towers and street lamps running down the centre of the main road. My Thai guides in the tricycles surrounding me shouted out facts,
“Same designer as the White Temple. So beautiful.”
We heard the singing as we came out of the main business district and turned the corner, riding past the busy street market.
Except it wasn’t hustling and bustling, only stillness and reverence. Every single person in the market place had stopped and were staring out into the air. I was startled for a minute thinking I had entered the twilight zone, but then I heard the song more clearly and remembered.
How could I forget? A reminder of just how long it had been between visits with my soul country.
The King’s song.
Every evening at 6pm, the entire nation stops to sing the King’s song and pay their respects.
You have to love a country that honours that much.
You have to love a man who is treated with such authentic love and devotion.
After having spent the morning learning about the good deeds the Royal family does for the Thai people I wanted to stop and sing it myself.
But our purple mobile continued to cycle pass and I paid my respect with my inner thoughts of gratitude.
We were taking a purple tricycle tour though the streets of Chiang Rai out to Wat Phra Kaew, a temple famous for its chanting monks.
The temple was the original home of the Emerald Buddha, which now lives in the temple of the same name in Bangkok; the most important temple in Thailand sitting within the Grand Palace walls.
We arrived just in time as young orange-robed novices walked in, their cleanly shaved heads slightly bowed and ready to pay their respects to Buddha.
The chanting started and more and more monks filed in until the small prayer hall was full. We sat on the floor at the back, our feet pointing behind us. The chanting floated up and filled the space stretched out to the high ceilings above.
My thoughts floated up with them. Listening to Buddhist monks chant is like sitting watching a fire on the beach. It mesmerises and fascinates and makes you just stare in space and think nothing.
We were soon snapped out of our trance with our guides gentle tap on his watch signalling that we quietly sneak out the back and make our way home for dinner.
We made our way back to our hotel through tree-lined streets, small residential back roads, and busy main streets, which seemed almost rural after driving on the streets of Bangkok. I certainly wouldn’t be navigating the streets of Bangkok in a purple tricycle.
But here in Chiang Rai, where the pace is much slower and freer it seemed as if there was no better way to do it.