You notice it first as you drive out of the airport: swags of black fabric that go on and on as far as the eye can see, draped across walls and fences, covering buildings – homes and office blocks and shops and shopping centres… Most of the swathes of black are a little time worn, faded now to grey having been drenched by the heavy rains that have preceded my visit to this Land of Smiles, Thailand. They’ve been exposed to the elements for three months, since mid October, when they were first put up to mark the death of the beloved Thai King, Bhumibol Adulyadej. I am in the tourist capital of Thailand, Phuket, the jewel along the Andaman coast where everything delivers on its promise of breathtakingly beautiful, spectacular. The forested limestone karsts rise out of the sea, ancient sentinels that are a reminder that I am in the east. Everywhere are memories of my dear friend Peter who lived here for a decade, and who I came to see each year, who has now gone (I hope) to his own land...

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