26 May 2012
BANGKOK, May 25 (Xinhua) -- Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej went on a field inspection to the country's central Ayutthaya province on Friday, his first trip outside the capital Bangkok since he was hospitalized almost three years ago.
Tens of thousands of Thais have gathered since early Friday around the Thung Makham Yong in Ayutthaya and along the passing road of the royal convoy to wait for the king's arrival, waving national flags and the yellow royal flag. The king toured Thung Makham Yong, a rice paddy, in May 1996 as part of a royal project to develop a water retention system to mitigate flooding in Ayutthaya.
Dressed in a military uniform, the King appeared in a wheelchair late afternoon before the adoring crowd which was shouting "Long Live the King". He came with the company of Queen Sirikit and one of their daughters, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.
The royal family watched various Thai folk performances organized in their honor by provincial authorities and the residents of Ayutthaya, which featured white-painted elephants and a boat procession. The king used a telescope to enjoy the show and took photos several times.
He is scheduled to return to Bangkok later the day.
The 84-year-old monarch came to the throne in 1946 and is now the longest reigning monarch in the world, deeply loved and respected by his people and the international community. In September 2009, he was admitted to hospital for pneumonia and has since stayed there and made rare public appearance.