September 20 is Thai Youth Day. The focus this year was Be Number One. It is a project of the Princess to encourage kids to excel at their passion and avoid smoking, drugs, and alcohol. If you read my Blog, you will not be surprised that the day started with a parade. You will also not be surprised that I didn’t always know exactly what was going on!
The day before Youth Day I was told that there would be a parade and a bike ride to start the event. I was told to be at the high school at 8 a.m. sharp (hmmm…Thais are never anywhere “sharp”). So I arrived at 8 a.m. sharp as the students were arriving. No bikers, no tessabaan officers, no evidence of a parade. One teacher knew nothing and another said everything starts at 9 a.m. So I waited until 8:20, still no one, and called my balat (city manager) thinking maybe I was at the wrong school. No, I am at the right spot and she said, “My officers are not there?” I said no one was there! Finally, about 8:45, people started arriving, but no one on a bike. One of the paraders (a volunteer) said the bike ride was canceled. I called my balat again and she said she didn’t think the bike ride was canceled so no don’t take my bike home. Finally, a few officers arrived on their bikes, funny, because I know that was not their plan. They got a call from the balat saying get to the school, on a bike, Karen is alone! They take care of me!!
We ended up with about 12 riders and as it turns out, the ride should have been canceled. The parade consisted of a police truck clearing the road, the high school marching band, the banner announcing the bike ride and parade, and then the bikes. Do you get the mental picture? How slow this ride was? It was more a bike walk. Following the pitiful bikers were volunteers and then the students.
Once we walked the 2 kilometers to the park the official ceremony opened with all the government officials welcoming each other, giving the long speeches no one listens to, making the proclamations and finally turning it over to the students. It was all theirs at that point and they did a good job MCing and keeping the show on track – even in the rain.
There was a folk music competition, some pretty talented and some not so much. There were skits about not using drugs, alcohol or smoking. There was contemporary singing. There were soccer matches. Lots of youth (defined as high school students) participated and the audience was actually pretty attentive. The day ended with the winners receiving trophies and all performers received kanoms (snacks) from the dignitaries, which of course included their local farang!
The parade begins
The high school marching band
Students made posters on the evils of smoking, drinking, and drugs
My aerobics instructors did a demonstration along with the senior hula hoopers
This student was by far the best folk singer and did not win a trophy, the good looking one who reminded the students of a Korean rock star won