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Thousands of people in Thailand have taken to the streets of Bangkok to celebrate the King’s 85th birthday.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej, is the world’s longest reigning monarch, having ascended the throne on 9 June 1946.
Each year the day sees buildings and homes all over the country adorned with flags, portraits of His Majesty and bunting, predominantly in the royal colour of yellow.

Television images showed a sea of supporters of the revered king, many wearing yellow symbolising Monday, the day of his birth, and waving royal and Thai flags.

At least 200,000 people were expected to attend the speech from a balcony at the Anantasamakom Throne Hall in front of the Royal Plaza in the capital’s historic district.

Crowds lined the streets chanting “long live the king!” along the route of the royal motorcade as it made its way from the hospital where the king has lived for three years after suffering a respiratory illness in 2009.

Bhumibol, who has served for 66 years, suffered a minor brain bleed in July, but has since made several official appearances including meeting Barack Obama during the US president’s visit to the country last month.

Thailand’s Queen Sirikit was not among the members of the royal family accompanying the king on Wednesday.

Doctors treating the 80-year-old queen, who was diagnosed with a slight loss of blood flow to the brain after being taken ill in July, said she was too weak to attend the ceremony, according to a statement from the palace on Tuesday.

Any discussion of the royal family is extremely sensitive in politically-turbulent Thailand, where the palace has been silent over the organisation of the eventual succession.

Royal Plaza was the heart of anti-government demonstrations in November that saw clashes between police and protesters in the city.

The rally — attended by members of the influential monarchist “Yellow Shirts” — was the latest street unrest in Thailand’s long-running political crisis pitting Thai royalists against supporters of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra and the current government led by his sister Yingluck.

Chinese New Year (also called the Lunar New Year) occurs in the early months of our calendar year, typically January or February and this year falls on January 23rd. This is the first of 15 days of celebration and the start of the Year of the Dragon.

Year of the Dragon
In Chinese tradition, each year is dedicated to a specific animal. The Dragon, Horse, Monkey, Rat, Boar, Rabbit, Dog, Rooster, Ox, Tiger, Snake, and Ram are the twelve animals that are part of this tradition. In 2012, the Dragon is welcomed back after the 2011 year of the Rabbit. Each of these animals are thought to bestow their characteristics to the people born in their year.

While the Year of the Rabbit was characterized by calm and tranquility, the Year of the Dragon will be marked by excitement, unpredictability, exhilaration and intensity. The Rabbit imbues people with a sense of cautious optimism, but people respond to the spirit of the Dragon with energy, vitality and unbridled enthusiasm, often throwing all caution to the wind – which can be an unwise move: The Dragon is all about drama but if you take unnecessary risks, you may find yourself starring in your own personal tragedy.

The Dragon’s Personality
People born under the Dragon are passionate, brave and self-assured. At their best they are pioneering spirits; at their worst, they epitomize the old adage: Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Dragons are generous with their resources, a tendency that at its most negative can reflect a foolhardy attitude towards money. But Dragons in general are blessed with good fortune. They are smart, enterprising and have a wicked sense of humor. They have a natural flair for fashion and are the people to consult if you want to catch up on the latest trends.

This Chinese New Year 2012 ushers in the Water Dragon. Water exerts a calming influence on the Dragon’s innate fire. Water Dragons are more open to other people’s opinions than other Dragons which gives them the ability to channel their personal charisma into real leadership qualities.

Famous celebrities born in under the Dragon include John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Al Pacino, Marlene Dietrich and Matt Dillon. The Dragon’s lucky color is yellow.

The Dragon and Love
Dragons are passionate. They fall in love quickly – and out of love just as quickly. Their charisma and charm is an immense draw to people of the opposite sex whose attention and admiration they crave. Though they have a tendency to treat love like a game, they can settle down when they meet the right partner, someone who’s strong enough not to be bowled over by the Dragon’s flamboyant, independent and stubborn personality.

The Dragon’s ideal partners are the Rat, the Monkey, and the Rooster: The Rat is practical, observant and resourceful, able to help the Dragon when extravagant promises have backed the Dragon into a corner. The Monkey is just as popular as the Dragon, curious, intellectual and fun-loving, one of the few personalities the Dragon doesn’t mind sharing the spotlight with. The Rooster can give the Dragon a run for the money on the fashion-forward front; attractive, well-groomed, fiercely loyal and committed to honesty, the Rooster serves as the Dragon’s reality check, keeping the Dragon from making promises that he or she can’t keep.

The Dragon and Wealth
Dragon years are lucky for anyone thinking of starting a business or initiating a new project of any sort because money is easier to come by for everyone, whether it’s earned, borrowed or received as a gift. Consequently we can expect the economic downturn to ease up a bit in the coming year. Fortunes can be made but they can also be lost: Keep in mind like all good things, the Year of the Dragon will come to an end and you will be held accountable for unreasonable extravagances.

Dragons do well in professions that give them the ability to function somewhat autonomously. They make excellent sales people, publicists, political campaigners, lawyers, real estate brokers, actors and politicians.

Chinese New Year is a lively celebration in Thailand, with dragon dances, fireworks, and banquets prepared on the streets for the benefit of ancestral spirits particularly in Samphanthawong District, the largest China Town in Thailand. Well–known for its streets of goldsmiths and numerous restaurants serving tasty Chinese cuisine, Bangkok’s Chinatown “Yaowarat” is filled with people who still preserve a distinctly Chinese way of life, including both tradition and culture. That’s why the Chinese New Year celebration in this area is a major festival and is well organized every year.

In China Town and elsewhere throughout the kingdom, lion and dragon dances are performed to ward off evil spirits, martial arts demonstrations are staged at various venues, Chinese street operas are staged along major thoroughfares and finally, fireworks are lit to mark the end of the new years celebration.

BANGKOK: The Thai opposition Puea Thai party, backed by the exiled politician Thaksin Shinawatra, has won a large majority in a landslide election result.

The Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, conceded defeat late last night, saying Puea Thai will be able to form government.

The political novice Yingluck Shinawatra, 44, a younger sister of Mr Thaksin who was put forward to lead the opposition party, thanked voters while claiming victory after Mr Abhisit’s concession.

Speaking in a nervous voice, Ms Yingluck invited minor parties to join her in forming a government and promised to fulfil promises made during the election campaign.

The election is the first since a bloody crackdown against opposition activists in May last year killed 91 people.

One poll, by Suan Dusit Rajabhat University, had the opposition winning 313 of 500 seats, while the Democrat party of Mr Abhisit would win 152 seats. A government exit poll had Puea Thai winning 280 seats, enough to form government.

Before the election, Red Shirt supporters, many of whom had occupied central Bangkok in April and May last year until they were violently expelled by the army, were confident that Ms Yingluck would become Thailand’s first female prime minister after Puea Thai vaulted ahead in polling.

The businesswoman is a younger sister of Mr Thaksin, a deeply divisive figure at the centre of the election who is living in self-imposed exile in Dubai.

Speaking from Dubai last night, he said the exit polls were indicating a victory margin bigger than he had expected.

Mr Thaksin, 61, is a telecoms tycoon who has been sentenced to two years’ jail for corruption.

He is expected to be pardoned in an amnesty and return to Thailand to take a central behind-the-scenes role for Puea Thai, which has strong support among the rural and urban poor. Mr Abhisit’s Democrats represent the old-money government and business elite who despise Mr Thaksin, who has been behind every election victory in the past decade.

Mr Abhisit said during the campaign the election would be ”the best opportunity to remove the poison of Thaksin from Thailand”.

During her campaign Ms Yingluck often described Mr Thaksin as her ”clone” and campaigned on the slogan: ”Thaksin thinks and Puea Thai does”.

Her slick, well-funded campaign promised to focus on uniting the country after six years of political turbulence.

More than 180,000 police guarded 90,000 polling centres as 35 million voters cast their ballots to fill 500 seats in parliament.

Puea Thai (For Thais) needed 260 or 270 seats to form government in its own right as ministers do not get a vote in parliament.

There is a danger the losing side will not accept the result, plunging the country back into violent turmoil, analysts have warned. Puea Thai’s expected landslide will test the army’s willingness to let the party govern five years after Mr Thaksin was ousted.

On the eve of the election the army chief, Prayuth Chan-ocha, dismissed rumours of a coup if Puea Thai won and asserted the military would remain neutral.

”Any government coming up has the right to take office,” he said. ”I have no problem accepting whatever comes.”

There have been unconfirmed reports the Thaksin camp and the military have been discussing some kind of accommodation.

The army removed Mr Thaksin from power in a 2006 coup.

Voters queued nervously at polling centres in Bangkok after a largely peaceful campaign where the rival parties made strikingly similar policies.

The main parties made extravagant promises such as sharply lifting the minimum wage, pensions for the elderly, computers for children, subsidies for rice, debt moratoriums and cash handouts the central bank said the economy could not afford.

Adding to tensions was the health of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 83, who has been in and out of hospital for much of the past two years.

”We have lost our way and we are trying to find our way back,” Pichai Chuensuksawadi, editor-in-chief of The Bangkok Post, told The New York Times. ”Whoever comes in now must play a key role in keeping things calm.”

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