King Bhumibol Adulyadej

King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej has made his first public appearance since undergoing a medical procedure to drain excess fluid from his spine.

When he arrived at the bridges he pressed a button on the boat to open the bridges and the flood gate.

The 83-year-old monarch - who underwent the 30-minute operation known as a lumbar puncture earlier this month in order to remove cerebrospinal fluid which had been affecting his balance when he walked - laid wreaths at the statues of Prince Mahidol of Songkhla, the Princess Mother and King Rama V in Bangkok on Tuesday (24.05.11).

The king - the world's longest reigning monarch has been in hospital on and off since September 2009 only making occasional public appearances.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej's last sighting in public occurred when he attended the opening of two bridges on the outskirts of Bangkok last year.

An onlooker said: "The king looked very happy and relaxed. He was taking photos of the bridges and chatting to his aides.

"When he arrived at the bridges he pressed a button on the boat to open the bridges and the flood gate."

The king - who was admitted to Siriraj Hospital in September 2009 with a lung infection - also enjoyed a fireworks display as he took a boat ride on the Chao Phraya river to take a closer look at the new constructions.

As he travelled down the river, aides pointed out buildings of interest and he waved to thousands of fans who had turned out to catch a glimpse of their much-loved monarch.