There is something truly beautiful about running around Mahidol University. The beautiful Thailand sunsets, the canals, the Asian fusion architecture, and the wonderful tree-lined boulevards all make for a memorable experience. It is amazing just how well this university and its' setting would fit in perfectly in any college town in the United States.
It is also quite inspiring how the university is both so incredibly modern while still preserving the Thai feel of the locale.
It has all the features that make it world class, while still having those Thai moments that remind you that you are not wandering a New England university. One of those is the six-foot monitor lizards. The other is what happens as the clock strikes 6:00 pm.
I love to run in the evening because it offers a bit of a reprieve from the oppressive Thailand heat and humidity. I am obviously not the only one who feels this way, as the joggers start to come out of hibernation at around 5:30 pm.
The really interesting thing is that even though the sidewalks and roadways are full of joggers and bikers at 6:00 pm, everyone comes to a respectful stop as the loudspeakers come alive. First you hear an announcement, followed by a quick piece of music, then you hear the Kings song/anthem. The first two items last about a minute and people continue to do whatever they had been doing, but as soon as the Kings song comes on, everyone stops.
This is not a stop and stretch sort of thing.
This is a full and complete stop.
There is a very respectful nature in the evening air, as people wait for the song to end and them continue their jogging and walking. There is no talking, no checking of cell phones, just a respectful waiting period.
For those of you who are wondering, no, it does not feel staged or false, it really does feel like a genuine love and respect for their long-reigning monarch. While I doubt anyone would raise a fuss if I were still running during that time, it just would not feel right. Plus, there is something that is just right about taking the time to respect a tradition.
Again though, what a beautiful evening for a quick four-mile run.