Last year when I traveled to Thailand a couple of friends who live or have lived there helped me know about some of the cultural things that could trip me up as an American in this culture. (Not only do I try to not be offensive when I travel, I try to find out if there are things that I can do that will express my respect and appreciation to those who I encounter along the way. Getting some insider insight can be very helpful in that venture.)
Thailand has a king. (Under the Constitution of 1978, Thailand has a British-style cabinet form of government with King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX, 1946- ) reigning as constitutional monarch and Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda heading the government.) He is loved by many, but not all of the citizens of Thailand. Culturally it is expected that all people — Thai citizens and foreign guests — will conduct themselves in ways that show respect for the King whose image is on all the paper money and whose photo is found in just about every public place. Actually, it’s more than just a cultural expectation — it is constitutional law.
This photo is of Filbert in a tiki hut bar on the Wang Tarn property where we stayed. It was not in use while we were there. While a framed image of the king hung in the reception area of the resort, his image could be found in a number of other locations like this one.