At school in Thailand, the Thai students have to learn the story of Phanthai Norasing. They also have to memorize a kind of poem that they have to sing about his life. Phanthai Norasing is a symbol of integrity and honesty and his virtues are taught to all students. Norasing lived during the Ayutthaya period about two hundred years ago. He used to be a coxswain on one of the barges of Phra Chao Sua, the King at the time. In 1704 A.D., the King was travelling along the curved Khok Kham Canal on the Ekkachai Royal Barge. There were so many bends in the canal that poor Norasing was having trouble controlling the rudder. This caused the prow of the boat to be broken off when it hit the trunk of a tree. Norasing knew very well the palace law of the time and although the King forgave him, he begged the King to have him executed. After his death, the King built a shrine on Khok Kham Canal and commanded to have a new canal, later to be named Klong Mahachai, to be dug in a straight line in order to make a safer passage.
Two hundred years later you can still go and visit this shrine which is in Samut Sakhon Province. Around the back you will also seen an ancient boat. Judging by the way people revered it you would think that this was the genuine article. I am not so sure as surely it wouldn’t have survived so long. But the local people believe and they worship the shrine at the rear of the boat. In this picture can you guess what the Thai woman is doing? She is rubbing the wood trying to find any symbols that might represent lucky number for the next lottery!
It is not that easy to get to the shrine if you are relying on public transport. However, if you are driving by yourself or going by taxi, you will find the way well marked in English and Thai. From Bangkok, you need to take Highway 35 to Samut Sakhon. This road is also called Rama II Road as this leads to the area where the future king was born. A short way after kilometer marker 16 you need to look out for Wat Phan Thai Norasing on your left. Turn down here and keep driving south towards the Gulf of Thailand. You will pass the Mon temple called Wat Ban Rai Charoen Phon. You won’t get lost. When you arrive you will find the shrine on your left and some restaurants on your right. If you have come by your own transport, you then might like to go off and do a bit more exploring like I did. You will see some signposts for a lookout along the coast where you can sometimes see some dolphins. The road is pretty rough at times and it was certainly an adventure to be “lost” for a while in the middle of no-where. I found the viewpoint eventually in the Khok Kham area. Although there were plenty of birds and other wildlife, I didn’t see any birds. But, it was a good excursion along the coast. I am planning on coming back to this area to explore more. I am not sure what is here because none of the English guidebooks cover this area and many of the roads are not marked on my map.
Name in Thai: ศาลพันท้ายนรสิงห์