By Pradichaya | Thai food | photography | voice teaching | opera artist

A Great Wall

A poem by Kaitlyn Schatzki

A tribute to HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand

Kaitlyn was 11 years-old when she wrote the poem

A great Wall

We form a great wall
full of hope.
We never stop standing up.
Our souls are like fire,
a fire that can never go out in the darkness.

We form a great wall
to protect our kingdom
and our king,
no matter what sadness may come.

We form a great wall
since our king did the same,
he cured our hearts, our souls.
He has sacrificed himself for us.

We form a great wall!
To do the right thing.
Something that we learned from the king.
To have a pure soul,
A fire that can never die out
To always be strong in our hearts.
To fight sadness and worries
and dangers that may come.
And soon we make a great big wall,
And finally,

By Pradichaya | Thai food | photography | voice teaching | opera artist

Born in Bangkok, Thailand to a Thai mother and an American father, Kaitlyn- or "Tongta"- has been raised in the cultures and traditions of the best-of-both-worlds. She spent almost her first five years in Thailand and then moved to America with her parents, and although Kaitlyn's Thai language isn't as good as it used to be she still very much connects with her Thai heritage. Not knowing anything of her background, anyone reading this poem might think it had been written by a devoted religious person about the faith in which she believes. However, I know my daughter well enough to realize that she put down in words her feelings about the Thai king, "King Bhumibol Adulyadej," who reigns over the Kingdom of Thailand. Our great king has been our large umbrella, providing cool shade over our heads for more than sixty years. Referred to by his people as their "father," the humble king loves his people unconditionally. When Kaitlyn showed me the poem, it brought tears to my eyes. What prompted her to write the poem? -When I asked her, she answered, "I want Thai people to remember that we have to be together and strong like a great wall. The king is Thailand and Thai people and we all are one."

By Pradichaya | Thai food | photography | voice teaching | opera artist

By Pradichaya | Thai food | photography | voice teaching | opera artist

The divine King

I am Pradichaya, I am Thai, and I adore my king. Thailand is, and has always been, The "King"dom of Thailand -or Siam, in the old days. Although the king's job title is to be the head of the country, he never gets involved with the politics of how any elected government should run his kingdom. Instead, his only concern is the people's well-being. He has been watching us for more than sixty years, longer even than my lifetime. He was never the type of king to stay comfortably inside his palace; instead, he has been always hard-at-work everwhere in the country, anytime of the year, any day and any night. Along with his beloved queen, Sirikit, he would be seen traveling anywhere within the Kingdom to help the people and to make their lives better, despite the muddy or dirt roads, chest deep water, steep hills, or even the areas full of guerillas, ready to ambush, in the deep south, or in the high drug-trafficking areas such as the golden triangle.

The king's palace in Bangkok is a large block of land with four-street-corners. Every little area of his property is put to good use. When it comes to talking about its "backyard," one might find it amusing to know that what lies within King Bhumibol's palace grounds are: a rice field, a fish breeding pond, a dairy farm, and many kinds of domestic animals, ranging anywhere from dogs and cats to cows, buffaloes, and elephants. There are also still many buildings where various engineering and science experiments are performed. Not enough rain in the dry, northeastern part of the country? - The king's rain-making machine was invented within his palace. This is but one example of the numerous things that were invented, developed, experimented upon and produced under King Bhumibol's projects for his people. How can I not love him? I am Pradichaya. I am Thai, and I cherish my king above my head.

By Pradichaya | Thai food | photography | voice teaching | opera artist

When I was young and my parents' sales company was still developing, I would hear them say to each other that, in choosing their next franchisees, they'd follow the king's footsteps and travel where he had traveled. -My parents knew that the road would be safe, because "The king had paved the way." The majority of Thais are buddhists, yet the king has an open-door policy, and all religions are welcome within our country. No matter the faith, the one thing Thais have in common is our king.

Most households have pictures of the king on their walls -some more elaborate than others. I've seen his majesty's pictures in gold- gilded frames all the way to torn pages off old magazines and calendars. I also carry my king's photo in my wallet. This is anything but fancy -a picture of him on one knee on the dry, cracked dirt with an open map in one hand, the other wiping off the sweat that had come down his nose. This picture is to remind me that I will never be discouraged, as the king's job is a googleplex times harder than mine.

By Pradichaya | Thai food | photography | voice teaching | opera artist