October 18, 2016 - 3:18 AM
BANGKOK - Thais waited patiently in long queues outside government banks Tuesday to secure special commemorative 100 baht currency notes in honour of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
The note was released five years ago by the Bank of Thailand, but interest in it was renewed after the king's death on Oct. 13.
People began lining up in the early morning at banks around the country to purchase the note, which was available for twice its face value at 200 baht ($5.71).
The banknote features images of the king visiting Thai people, planting grass and playing the saxophone. The side with the special images is printed with metallic gold ink.
"I want to keep every single note that has a portrait of the king, because one day they'll be all gone since we'll be living under a new monarch," said Surinamon Rakkaew, a 24-year-old.
Because of the huge demand, at least one bank, the Government Savings Bank that had a stock of 90,000 bills, said it will limit the sale to five bills per customer.
"We believe that all 90,000 bills will be distributed today and we are in the process of requesting more bills from the Bank of Thailand," said Vitai Ratanakorn, a top official of the bank. He said he expects a new stock of 200,000 bills will become available on Thursday.
Bhumibol's death after a reign of 70 years has triggered an intense outpouring of grief in Thailand, where the monarchy is revered. Since his death, Thais have been quick to purchase items or partake in activities, such as alms-giving, as ways to commemorate the memory of the late king.
"I came to exchange my bills as a memento so that one day I can commemorate the late king Rama IX," said 35-year-old Pawan Tomuean, using the king's formal title, as he carefully inserted his newly acquired bill into a protective case. "One day I will be able to celebrate his goodness and all the great things he did for this nation."
News from © The Associated Press, 2016