King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX

Thai currency, bills and coins

Like Canadian money, the reigning monarch's image is on all the currency in Thailand. While there's a law that will put you in jail if you say anything bad about the king, everything seems to indicate that the man deserves respect, and our tour guide at the National Museum today (a German who has been here for about 30 years) talked about him as a peace-maker who has held the country together in the face of major military issues. Read more about him here. He's also both a dedicated jazz musician and a photographer (look at the image on the central bill). It's fascinating and wonderful to see someone who is (in theory, at least) nothing more than a figurehead be so critical to his country. Queen Elizabeth (who is also the Queen of my country) is a distant figure to most Canadians, and has never been tested as King Bhumibol has. I hope that she would stand up as well as he did.