Puktien is a small beach location just north of Cha-Am. It is famous for its statues in the sea depicting characters from one of Thailand’s greatest poets Sunthon Phu, and his epic 30,000 line story Phra Aphai Mani.
All the major characters from Phra Aphai Mani can be seen, either standing in the sea, on islands or on the raised part of the beach. The most prominent of which is a six metre tall Pee Seua Samut, an aquatic demon, but also Phisuea Samut (the sea ogress), Nang Ngueak (the mermaid), a giant turtle and the Chinese goddess Kuan Yin.
It is thought that Thailand’s most famous poet, Sunthorn Phu (1789-1855), began writing Phra Aphai Mani whilst in prison in 1821 but then visited the beach after being ordained. Written entirely in verse, the epic poem is 30,000 lines long and considered to be a masterpiece of Thai literature.
In the story, a prince is exiled to an undersea kingdom ruled by a female giant named Nang Phisuea Samut (‘Butterfly of the Sea’). The giant transforms herself into a beautiful woman to trick the prince into falling in love with her. When the prince finally discovers the deception, he manages to escape from the kingdom with the aid of a mermaid.
The statue of a giant woman stands offshore at Puktien Beach with an outstretched hand and a forlorn expression depicts this character from the poem.
Puktien Beach is typically a very quiet and peaceful stretch of beach although occasionally disturbed by groups of school children who are still taught about the poet. For them the 15 metre statue is very real indication of the power and longevity of his work.
This is a unique glimpse of Thai culture because of the exotic pieces of art on display. There is the opportunity to consider this from the comfort of the nearby restaurants serving wonderful seafood anytime of the day.
For the tourist Puktien is a glimpse of traditional Thailand in a setting which has all that is needed for a relaxing day trip or to stay longer and savour a mix of rest with fine local cuisine and comfortable accommodation.
Puktien Beach is around 18 kilometres north of Cha–Am along a scenic road then along the coast. See the link below for a Google map.