One of the most important icons in Phuket is the Two Heroines Monument. Although it is just a simple life-size statue of two women and does not need more than 5 minutes to see, the monument has an important meaning and historical significance.
The two heroines are sisters Thao Thep Kasattri and Thao Sri Soontorn, and they are honored for their bravery in defending the island from Burmese invaders. Before Burma was colonized by western forces, the Burmese made three attempts of conquering the island. In one of these attempts, residents of Phuket lacked the manpower to ward off the invaders. The heroic sisters had a wonderful plan in mind that actually worked. They led the women of Phuket to dress as soldiers. Hundreds of women were disguised in army uniforms and paraded through the town of Phuket. They held sticks as though they were rifles and weapons. Apparently the plan paid off. The Burmese invaders saw the women and were tricked into thinking that they were hundreds of reinforcement soldiers from Bangkok. They withdrew, and eventually the Burmese were defeated in 1785.
Phuket has a rich history, and records prove that it has been occupied by prehistoric migrants in the past. Ancient books and maps refer to a beautiful island off the south-west coast of Thailand called Junk Ceylon. Ancient traders from India and China passed through this island, which now is Phuket.
In the 16th to 18th Century, Hokkien Chinese controlled the tin mining industry of Phuket, which is why, until today, the island has a number of Thai-Chinese residents. Portuguese and English businessmen also arrived to develop Phuket’s tin mining and infrastructure. Today, European architecture can be seen in the Old Phuket Town where several old shop-houses still stand.
Phuket is located in the south-west coast of Thailand, which is very near the southern tip of Burma (now Myanmar). Phuket is the biggest island in Thailand. Although it was mostly known in ancient times for its tin mining industry, most of Phuket’s revenues today come from the island’s tourism. It is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, and could easily be the best in Asia. Located at the Andaman Sea, Phuket is easily accessed by plane, car, or boat.
The Two Heroines Monument is situated at Tha Rua. Motorists pass by it when going to the town of Phuket. It is not difficult to miss, as the two figures stand side by side on top of a marble pedestal. It was built by local residents on May 23, 1967, and every year since it was opened to the public, an annual fair is held to commemorate the heroism of the two sisters, as well as all the women of Phuket. Women from all over the world should be proud of what this otherwise humble monument stands for.
There are other icons in Phuket that represent the spirit of the Thai people, and the newest and largest figure is the gigantic image of the Buddha on top of Nekkerd Hills. Simply referred to as Big Buddha, this seated colossus is a symbol of the people’s faith and belief in the teachings of the Enlightened One. Both locals and foreigners visit the Big Buddha to see the architectural wonder as well as the spiritual significance.
Unlike the Big Buddha on top of a hill, the Two Heroines Monument is along a busy highway for everyone to see. Tourists do not even need to go through too much trouble to see it, and that is all the more reason to be sure that it is checked off every traveler’s list when in Phuket.