We’re writing to the Mexicali Tribe from Bangkok, Thailand, where we have just begun our autumn buying trip—and only a couple of days into our travels, this trip has already become one of our most memorable. Thailand, our “Land of Smiles,” is shedding many tears today. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Thailand’s venerated and beloved head of state for over 70 years, has died at the age of 88. We learned of this sad news just as we disembarked from our plane.
In America, we are used to our political leadership turning over frequently. But for many of our Thai friends, King Bhumibol Adulyadej is the only monarch they have known for their entire lives. In fact, he was the longest-serving monarch in the world. The King’s likeness is everywhere in Thailand—in homes and businesses, in big posters alongside the roadways, on currency. He felt timeless to us, as if he would always be watching over this country we love so well. The entire country is mourning and we are seeing a side of Thailand we have never seen before—so somber and so sad.
The brilliant jewel tones and sparkling fabrics of Thai clothing are nowhere to be seen as everyone in the country is wearing black for the next 30 days. For a color-loving couple like ourselves, dressing appropriately has suddenly become a big challenge. Pete and I have had to dig deeply into our suitcases—past the killer tie dyes and joyful batiks—to find the few outfits we own with somber colors. (I always pack a few outfits in black—I love how it flatters figures and makes accessories pop—but poor Pete will be wearing the same few items again and again until we reach Bali.)
We’ve been offering our condolences to the artisans and suppliers we have grown so close to over the years and standing alongside them to pay our respects. I was so moved by the authentic sorrow all around us as we witnessed the stately procession of the King’s body from the hospital back to the Grand Palace, and the period of mourning has only just begun.
We feel so much love toward our Thai friends during this time of loss, and we are feeling so inspired and renewed by the genuine love and affection they have for their lost leader. We left our own country embroiled in an election that has not always seemed to bring out the best in America and it is very healing to see the national unity and strength that surrounds us here.
We will keep you posted on all that we are seeing during this transformative time in Thailand!
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