What do you do after a heavy storm? You mop up your courtyard, obviously (not). I was still bemused by what I was seeing, workers mopping up the rain soaked courtyard around the building housing the Emerald Buddha at the Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok.
There were a few things I should have known if I’d read a bit more deeply before traveling. The date was July 18, 1989. The Wat Phra Kaew is the home of the Emerald Buddha, and is regarded as the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. The Emerald Buddha is a 26 in. (66 cm) standing form carved from a single jade stone. It’s robes are changed three times per year at the change of the seasons (around March, July and November) and only the King of Thailand is allowed to touch the statue. After the ceremony the King sprinkles water over the monks and the faithful who have gathered for the ritual.
I almost didn’t get a photo of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, because I was completely oblivious to the significance of the day. I was just there accidentally that day, not on purpose. But as I was standing there a procession started and there was the King, under the green umbrella, passing by with his subjects kneeling in his presence. Suddenly the reason for all the military types and the mopping up operation became clear. I was so shocked I only managed to get off three frames and each was under-exposed. The photo below is the best of the three.
On the flip side, had I known the King was there, I’d probably have hung out to get a photo of the King and missed the shots of the temple complex that are ultimately more satisfying for me to look at.