His Majesty the King leads hundreds of thousands of cyclists for unity and good health
Thailand’s 66-year-old King Maha Vajiralongkorn bicycled more than 24 miles on Sunday as he led hundreds of thousands of Thais around the Kingdom in a bicycling event to encourage people to unite, love and care for each other and the nation.
The event, dubbed “Un Ai Rak” or “Love and Warmth,” coincided with the advent of Thailand’s cool season, and the lower temperatures made the cycling a bit less grueling for participants of all ages. During the late afternoon, His Majesty opened the Un Ai Rak Fair in a park next to the Royal Plaza where vendors sold food and crafts to raise funds for charities and Royal Development Projects. The fair will run through January 19.
In the early evening, throngs of people lined the streets along His Majesty’s route from the Royal Plaza in Bangkok to Lad Pho Park in neighboring Samut Prakan province to catch a glimpse of their monarch. They cheered and made the traditional hands clasped together gesture of respect knows as the “wai” as the King pedaled past looking trimmer and fitter than many a man half his age.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn wore a yellow and blue-themed cycling suit and helmet, the colors associated with his late father King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his mother, Queen Sirikit. Princess Bajrakitiyabha and Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana cycled closely behind their father, King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
Yellow is also His Majesty’s astrological color as he was born on a Monday.
The color has become associated with the monarchy since the time of King Bhumibol, who reigned for 70 years before passing away in 2016. He was the world’s longest-reigning monarch at that time. Most of the cyclists and many among the spectators wore yellow clothing to show their allegiance.
King Bhumibol stressed unity among the Thai people and helping the less fortunate to advance and better their lives. The Un Ai Rak event was designed by King Maha Vajiralongkorn to sustain that ethos and tradition.
In northern Chaing Mai province, 10,000 people signed up to cycle 17 miles for the event. In Uttaradit province, 6,000 pedaled for unity, 6,000 joined in Phuket, while over 5,400 did the same in Lampang. Similar numbers turned out in every one of the 76 provinces. Across the country, it was well over 600,000 people bicycled for Un Ai Ra k.
The cycling routes were planned so participants would pass historic monuments and sites in each province to highlight the Kingdom’s culture and heritage.