Sunday, 12 May 2013

King Rama V in Thong Nai Pan

King Chulalongkorn was the fifth monarch of Siam in the Chakri Dynasty, also known as King Rama V. The present King Bhumibol is of the same dynasty and is called Rama IX.

King Rama V was the monarch that saved the Kingdom from partition under colonial powers. He also attempted to reduce corruption in the administration, abolished slavery and did what he could to modernize the Kingdom while preserving the religious traditions of the country.

He was the first monarch of Thailand to properly tour his Kingdom. He bought a steam ship and spent time visiting the islands in both the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea.

One of the islands that he frequently visited during his reign (1868 – 1910) was Koh Phangan. As several websites about the island mention, King Rama V was particularly smitten with Than Sadet. He went to the waterfall and the beach in this area a number of times. He even carved his initials into a rock by the waterfall. This started a trend: both King Rama VII and the present King Rama IX have also carved their initials into giant rocks by the river bed.

What is less well known is that King Rama V also spent time in the Thong Nai Pan area. He visited Than Prawes waterfall and spent time in the villages of Noi and Yai. As with Than Sadet, he commemorated his fondness for Thong Nai Pan by carving his initials into a large rock in what is now Thong Nai Pan Noi village.

If you are walking from the beach through the village it is on the right. You go past Rasta Baby and over the bridge. The famous rock is next to the building that is at present an ice cream shop. Sadly there is construction work going on at the moment obscuring the rock from the road.

Perhaps if more people expressed an interest in seeing the rock with King Rama V’s initials on the local community would make more of an effort to preserve the area around the rock and make it a tourist attraction.