The Day the Thai Princess Visited Myanmar
By Wei Yan Aung 21 March 2020
YANGON—On this day 34 years ago, Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, the second daughter of late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, arrived in Yangon on her first visit to Myanmar, at the invitation of military dictator General Ne Win.
Gen. Ne Win, chairman of the Burma Socialist Programme Party, rolled out the red carpet for the visiting Thai princess, who led an 11-member goodwill delegation. Gen. Ne Win, President U San Yu and Prime Minister U Maung Maung Kha each hosted separate dinners for the princess.
On her 11-day visit, the 31-year-old Thai princess travelled to sites across the country, including Bago, Bagan, Mandalay, Sagaing and Taunggyi and Inle in Shan State. She even offered recommendations for the conservation of cultural heritage in Bagan.
Myanmar officials who conducted her around the country praised her highly for being approachable and down-to-earth despite her royal blood. She dressed simply throughout her trip.
During her trip, the princess studied the history of Thai-Myanmar relations, art, culture, agricultural development and Myanmar people’s way of life. She visited the Shwedagon Pagoda, the National Museum and colonial buildings on Pansodan Street, according the travel schedule drawn up by Gen. Ne Win.
However, Gen. Ne Win rejected her request to go to the Bagan Publishing House on 37th Street in Yangon to look for some books she wanted. The publisher said that the rejection was probably because either the street was filthy or the government was not ready to provide security for her.
In 2003, the Thai princess made her second visit to Myanmar—this time managing to accomplish what she could not do 17 years ealier. She went to the Bagan Publishing House and bought books about Myanmar and Thailand in both English and French.
Princess Sirindhorn, who is now 65, also visited Myanmar in 2010, 2013 and 2015.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.
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