Heroines Monument at the traffic roundabout on Thepkasattri Road in Thalang is one of the top landmarks on the island. The monument tells the inspiring story of how brave Lady Chan and Lady Mook who led the locals, of whom many were women, to fight against Burmese intruders.
They won a battle more than 2 centuries ago and still have a strong impact on the psyche of the local islanders. In fact, for many Thais, the story is in the same vein as the tale of Joan of Arc.
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Who are the Phuket Heroines?
The sisters Chan and Mook were born into the head of the Baan Kien Village family. Chan married and became a widow twice. The second time was when she was around 45-50 years old. Her husband, who was the governor of Thalang Town, died from a long illness. This happened just before the Burmese troops invaded. At the onset of the invasion, instead of running away, she and Mook decided to gather the people together and fight back. The rest of the story became a legend.
There is documentation that shows how Lady Chan lived a full life after the war. She helped locals build up their life again through tin trading amongst many other things – an amazing and unusual role for Thai women back then when they were only expected to tend to the house and raise children.
The major events
Early 1785: Lady Chan, a widow of Thalang’s governor together with her younger sister led the villagers against a Burmese invasion.
March 1785: With fewer defenders than invaders, they managed to win the war, not by force but by using smarter strategies.
After the war: King Rama I (1736–1809) founder of the Chakri Dynasty showed his appreciation of the 2 ladies by giving them the honorary titles of Thao Thepkasattri and Thao Sri Sunthorn.
1793: Lady Chan passed away but there is no record of when her sister died.
1909: King Rama VI (1881–1925) submitted the idea to build a monument for the sisters.
1967: The monument was built and King Rama IX (1927–present) attended its grand opening ceremony in May 1967.
Good to know about the Phuket Heroines
There is a small shrine at the base of the monument where people come to pay respect to the ladies, commonly known as Ya Chan and Ya Mook for Thai (ya is ‘grandma’ in Thai). Most Thai visitors make it a must-stop here before entering the city, especially on their first visit. They usually bring along garlands made from marigold flowers, incense sticks and gold leaf (to be put on the mini version of the same statues). There are stands nearby selling these items.
As for the locals, it’s traditional to come and say goodbye here as well as asking for the heroines to help protect them from bad things before leaving the island. These include students who are going away to pursue a higher level of education.
What not to miss
If you are visiting Phuket around mid-March, don’t miss a big annual event called the Thao Thepkasattri-Thao Sri Suntorn Festival. The fair lasts many days and largely consists of sporting and cultural experiences.
To safely cross the road to the central monument can sometimes take forever. So, if you want to see it up close, it’s best to go there after the rush hours between 7.40am and 8.30am and again at betwen 5.30pm and 7.30pm.
Phuket Heroines Monument
- Location: Si Sunthon, Thalang, Phuket 83110, Thailand