A gift fit for a king

From the reporter's notebook


Last updated 8/23/2023 at 11:08am

While I took a small container of Montana sapphires to Thailand to see if there was a market for them, I also took a special sapphire with me. A sapphire fit for a king.

It started with a knock on my door in Bothell. It was Will Chausee, a friend and the owner of the sapphire mine in       Montana.

He was excited and wanted to show me a special sapphire he found at his mine.

He had shaped it and polished it. It had an image of a pagoda in the center of it.

It’s fit for a king, Chausee noted. 

Chausee had been in touch with the Thai ambassador to the U.S. about the sapphire and the idea of giving it to the Thai king.

Since I was the one making the trip, the sapphire would be mine for the presentation.

The ambassador walked Will through the things he needed to do, and the plan was underway.

I went with Will to a place in Seattle whose specialty was making things out of gold.

The sapphire was fitted with a clasp so it could hold a gold chain. Then a gold case was made with a blue silk lining and a gold lid.

The guy there said it would take a month to do.

When it came time for me to head out to my Asian trip, Will presented me with the gold/sapphire gift to the king of Thailand and a letter of introduction.

About two weeks into my trip, I arrived in Bangkok and tried to figure out how to proceed with the gift.

I had planned to spend some time with the family of a student we sponsored at UW. As it turned out, the nephew of my student had a friend that worked in the palace grounds, and he assured me that he knew where I had to go.

Earlier, I had been to a Thai sapphire mine area, so I was used to being escorted around.

We picked a day to go to the palace grounds for the gift presentation and then made our way to the palace grounds.

When I explained that I was there to give the king a gift, people became cooperative.

I was led into a beautiful appointed room and told to sit and wait.

In about 29 minutes a small, rather dignified looking man came down a long staircase and he made his way over to me.

I started to get goose bumps wondering if this was the king.

He introduced himself as the king’s first secretary.

I gave the man my letter of introduction and then tried to explain to him how all of this started. He had trouble with Montana. I finally explained where it was.

The first secretary explained that we had missed the king by one day. He said the king had left the day before for the ancient capital Chiang Mai, where it was cooler. He thanked me for the gift and explained that the king got many gifts because he was loved and respected throughout the world. He said that gifts were put inside a special room and the king would go to the room on a regular basis to inspect the gifts.He was with me for 20-30 minutes and was a very intense and interesting guy.

He called someone over to lead me out, thanking me for the gift. 

So that ended my hope of getting to meet the king, but gave me a lesson on how things were done in a world that I had not entered before.

Naturally when I returned home Chausee had me go through the visit a number of times with a lot of questions. 

The first secretary didn’t explain what happens to the gifts.


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