Many Thais could be seen huddled in front of televisions pointing and giggling at what they considered a lackluster display of grief, moaning and fainting by their neighbors.
“The Khmer have no feelings, no sense of the moment,” said 77-year-old Meena Leelanont, who once camped for 32 days outside Siriraj Hospital before being admitted herself with heat exhaustion.
“It was the greatest achievement of my life,” she said, eyes brimming with tears. “I was even closer to the king.”
The Thai WeLovetheKing Facebook page founder said she was shocked to hear that no one in Cambodia had committed suicide from anguish caused by Sihanouk’s passing last October. “We must have at least 100 people kill themselves for every day of the 100-day mourning period or it would be disgraceful,” she said.
Meanwhile, picture frame shop owner Nop Ratreesuwat was unimpressed by the craftsmanship on display in Phnom Penh. “That is the saddest Garuda I have ever seen,” he said, referring to the elaborately carved mythical bird which carried King Sihanouk’s golden casket. “The Mount of Vishnu should be the work of tens of thousands of craftsmen supervised by hundreds of masters, all of whom must never sleep, eat or shit until the work is done.”
Thai scholars also weighed in on the funeral, pointing out what they saw as several lapses in royal protocol. “The fifth and sixth tiers of the nine-tiered umbrella were clearly too far apart,” said Professor Supat Vanichkarn. “And really, the conch shell blowing was very weak, very disappointing.”
A Thai palace official scoffed at the budget provided by the Cambodian government for King Sihanouk’s funeral. “How sad that our neighbor is so poor that they cannot even afford to pay for their king’s migration into heaven,” said the lady-in-waiting. “A proper royal funeral should cost tax-payers at least Bt600 million.”
“All in all, I think the ceremony shows how the Cambodians have lost touch with their monarchy,” commented Professor Supat. “Here was a once-in-a-lifetime occasion to be extraordinarily self-important, to expose and deride foreign ignorance of one own country’s customs and rituals, to spend huge amounts of tax-payer money on ephemeral objects, to create a spectacle that made your population feel insignificant and powerless in the face of the awesome power of the monarchical institution, and to indulge in extraordinary displays of emotion that show the depth of your attachment to someone you have never met, and, well, they just blew it. We’ll show them.”