The 18 buses were the first of four government-funded convoys to carry mourners to Bangkok under a nationwide policy to provide free transport to people who would otherwise not be able to fund their own pilgrammage to the Grand Palace to pay their respects to His Majesty.
Phuket was originally allowed to provide free transport 600 mourners on four days: November 6 and 24, December 14, January 2. (See story here.)
That number was raised to 750 people per convoy, and the dates for the first two convoys were changed to today (Nov 5) and Nov 25.
The Dec 14 and Jan 2 convoys remain unchanged.
To register, people can call 076-224822 or register in person at Phuket Provincial Hall, or they can contact their local District Office or municipality. (See story here.)
The mass pilgrimages began in earnest yesterday, with 26 vans fully loaded with 300 people left Phuket Provincial Hall at 1pm.
Sakchai Niyomya, who led the van drivers explained, “For these van trips we ask mourners to donate what they can to pay for diesel, and the van drivers will pay the rest out of their own pockets.”
The van drivers will drop off the mourners at the Rattanakosin Hotel in Bangkok.
“They will leave Bangkok tomorrow (Nov 6) to return to Phuket,” Mr Sakchai said.
All mourners on the government-funded convoys and the van trips have been handed free travel-accessory packs donated by key tourism businesses and associations in Phuket.
French Consul in Phuket Claude de Crissey handed over to 10,000 of the free travel-accessory packs the Phuket Governor Chockchai Dejamornthan so they could be distributed to mourners travelling to Bangkok.
Among those who contributed donations to the packs, which mainly comprise toiletries and other personal-use items, were The Kata Group, headed by President Pramookpisit Achariyachai; the Phuket Tourist Association; the Patong Hotel Association; the Thai Hotel Association Southern Chapter; Thai Smile Air, operated by THAI Airways International; and Big C.