If you’re going to Phukethon 2017, why not know a little more about the place you’re running in?
If you were to mention any Southeast Asian country to go to for a beach holiday, inevitably the country of Thailand would show up.
“Oh, I just went to Thailand for a holiday!” someone would gush when they answer that one question you have never actually asked them.
“Really?” you would reply politely.
“Yes! The fact is Thailand is just so beautiful because it’s so rustic? Like I love Singapore, but it’s so…boring with its buildings and mega shopping centres. I like small shops, finding myself in meditation with the locals, drinking coconut water out of an actual coconut instead of boring old cartons…”
As you try to make your escape, you then wonder how many people would know about the history of Thailand, especially if you were about to attend Phukethon 2017 and looking for some RnR in your spare time.
Well, no need to look further, we’ll explore certain aspects of Phuket’s history and cultural myths.
1) Phuket’s Tin Mining History
Phuket has a very long history with the industry of tin-mining, going all the way back to the 1600s, and the main reason why Phuket is such a melting pot of cultures is because of the number of miners from all over the world coming to Phuket to work, bringing with them their cultures, traditional practices, and history.
At Saphan Hin, located where Phuket Road meets the sea in Phuket Town, a monument stands to commemorate tin mining. The monument is dedicated to the memory of Captain Edward Thomas Miles, the Australian who brought the first tin dredge to Phuket in 1909, following which the tin-mining business got even more profitable as the dredge helped scoured the nearby seas for more of the metal.
The Tin Mining Monument was unveiled on the 60th anniversary of tin-mining in Phuket, and is a great place for families to relax and spend time, with a sports centre in the park where many runs are held, including the Phukethon 2017.
2) The Portuguese Connection
For parts of Asia, many influences of the west can be seen, whether through large governmental buildings, houses near the cities, or even little elements such as post boxes, light posts, and pavements.
Quite a bit of it is the result of Western colonisation, but in the case of Thailand, which was never colonised, the situation is a little friendlier.
In Phuket, much of the architecture is based off Portuguese design elements, but quite a bit of the art is based on the Chinese settlers who helped to build and design the houses. In the 16th century, the booming tin-mining industry was attractive enough that it brought Portuguese settlers, as well as a lot of Chinese workers. Some of the older buildings were built by the Chinese who were hired to make homes for these Portuguese workers, and the mixture of art styles can be seen in many aspects.
Quite a lot of the Old Phuket Town’s architecture is still preserved to this very day and holds much historical significance to the town of Phuket, with encouragement from the local government for owners to get their houses conserved and repaired.
3) The Hai Leng Ong
If you go to Phuket, you would chance upon icons and pictorial depiction of a golden Chinese styled dragon in older pieces of artwork, especially one particular statue situated at Queen Sirikit Park, Phuket Town.
Why the love for the dragon? This has to do with the ancient Chinese legend of the island of Phuket. The legends state that Hai Leng Ong is the protector of the island of Phuket, and helps sustain life and prosperity in business and that the island itself is the dragon. If you go to the Queen Sirikit Park, a wall near the dragon statue talks about the legend, and shows which part of the land of Phuket corresponds to which body part of the dragon.
In 2006 a large golden statue of the dragon was added to the Queen Sirikit Park to commemorate the 60th Year of the then Royal King’s reign, which shows the importance of the legend to Phuket. Many of the local residents, especially those with Chinese heritage, believe in the legend strongly, and make the effort to give offerings and pay tribute to the protector by lighting incense and candles.
4) Promthep Cape
Also known as Laem Promthep, the area is known as the most southern part of Phuket, and is a bit of the rocky headland than juts out into the sea at the far southwest of Phuket. The place is the site for picturesque sunsets and lots of people venture there to take photos and enjoy the sun rising and setting. The place is also the site of a shrine and a lighthouse that is located on a big open spot.
If you believe in the legend of the dragon Hai Leng Ong that was stated earlier in this article, you would know that the island of Phuket is the physical body of Hai Leng Ong, the dragon protector of Phuket. In this case, the snout of the dragon is at the southern end of Phuket at Laem Promthep.
The area is a great spot to visit to look at the sunset. The view is spectacular and if you do participate in the coming Phukethon, the full marathon route will get you a chance to run the route that covers this spectacular site.
All the following areas mentioned are all areas that can be visited especially if you are running the Phukethon 2017. In fact, for the upcoming Phukethon 2017, some of the race routes will cover the special areas, with the full marathon covering all the places mentioned here.
Other highlights of the event include the unique shaped medal that is designed to include all the best elements of Phuket, a food and music party held on the beach after the 5km route, and also the glory of just seeing the island itself.
If you wish to know more about the history of Phuket, the sights to see, and the culture, why not take a trip and see for yourself after you run the course?
Phukethon 2017 tickets are for sale on the RUN Shop