Chulalongkorn Day on Koh Phi Phi
Phi Phi Island Culture | Chulalongkorn Day National Holiday
Chulalongkorn Day is the National Holiday taken by all Thais to celebrate one of Thailand's most revered Kings. On this day, the 23rd of October, banks and non-essential government institutions take the day off work to reflect on one of their countries most significant figures in the modern era.
Most Thai businesses on Phi Phi Island will have a picture of the present King mounted high in a prominent position as a sign of respect towards the monarchy. Such is the reverence that Thai people have for King Chulalongkorn or Rama V, they will put a second image of the past king alongside the present King Bhumibol Adulyadej (or Rama IX). On this National Day businesses like Siam UK Travel and Tours might put an offerring (usually some fresh flowers and or incense) by the alter to denote their respect. A quick and quiet prayer might be all that is noticed by the tourist as you see the local Thai people bow (wai) towards their mini shrine.
The banks, the post office will close on Phi Phi for the Chulalongkorn Day but the police and all the tourist infrastructure will carry on as normal. This means that the resorts, hotels and guesthouses, restaurants, cafes and bars will all be open as normal and the staff work as normal. It is still possible to go out to Maya Bay on Phi Phi Ley on
Chulalongkorn Day and the legacy
On the mainland during Chulalongkorn Day the same rules apply with government infrastructure taking the day off (except for emergency and hospital services). This means any transfers to the airport from the mainland piers should be unaffected by the National Holiday.
On the mainland, any businesses over a certain size (5-10 people) might choose to let their staff take a day off as part of the 13 National Holidays under Thai labour law, they must give their employees every year. Many businesses give days off in lieu so some take the Chulalongkorn day off and others use it at other times.
King Chulalongkorn history
King Chulalongkorn or Rama V was born on 20 September 1853, son of King Mongkut and Queen Debsirindra and received a broad education including some tutors from Europe. He trained as a novice monk when he was 13 and also spent time abroad in India and Singapore experiencing the efficiencies of the British Empire, and Java, experiencing the Dutch rule.
King Chulalongkorn like no one else brought Thailand on from a medieval kingdom to the edge of democracy by updating the power base by modernizing some of key institutions. He instigated the formation of the Auditory Office centralizing the power for collecting taxes. He created the Council of State as a legislative body and Privy Council reflecting the British Privy Council. He created the Thai Navy.
He kept his kingdom out of the European Empires. He ceded some land by doing so but was able to understand the power of the Europeans. This kept his kingdom intact, if slightly reduced in size.
However, and probably one area where is he most revered was to the pass the Slave Abolition Act in 1905 for all Thais. In fact, the reverse side of the red 100 Thai Baht note depicts King Chulalongkorn in his navy uniform abolishing the slave trade. The primary Thai university, Chulalongkorn was named after him after his death in 23 October 1910.
Phi Phi Island as seen in July 2008