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Conservation of Old Phuket

Period:18 Jul 2014 - 20 Jul 2014

Address:84 Moo 8, Sakdidej Rd., Wichit, Muang Phuket, Phuket 83000 Thailand

Tel:+662-661-6470—7

Service day:Friday, Saturday, Sunday

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When people these days think of Phuket, images of beautiful beaches and fine resorts come to mind. But the history of the island long predates its development as a tourist destination.

To promote heritage protection in this southern province, Siam Society is organising a “Conservation of Old Phuket” study trip over the weekend of July 18 to 20. It will be led by Dr Yongtanit Pimonsathean, an expert on the conservation of the old quarter of Phuket town.

Dr Yongtanit is one of the leading teachers and practitioners of heritage conservation in Thailand. In addition to his academic duties at Thammasat University, he is an advisor on conservation to the Crown Property Bureau, an advisor to the council of the Siam Society, winner of the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation in 2008 and a Fulbright’s Thai Visiting Scholar in 2009.

On this trip, Dr Yongtanit will share his knowledge of Phuket Peranakan culture and way of life, and will use it as a case study in how cultural heritage protection can be successfully undertaken in Thailand through strong community engagement at the local level.

The fee for the trip is 19,000 baht (17,000 baht for Siam Society members) including transportation, two nights’ accommodation at Cape Panwa Hotel and five meals. For bookings and more information, call 02-661-6470—7.

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Editorial Reviews

When people these days think of Phuket, images of beautiful beaches and fine resorts come to mind. But the history of the island long predates its development as a tourist destination.

To promote heritage protection in this southern province, Siam Society is organising a “Conservation of Old Phuket” study trip over the weekend of July 18 to 20. It will be led by Dr Yongtanit Pimonsathean, an expert on the conservation of the old quarter of Phuket town.

Back in the 19th century, Phuket was developed not for tourism, but for tin mining. The island province was remote from the capital, Bangkok, and its transport, trade, and communications links, especially for members of its rich business community, were mostly with Penang, not far away by sea to the south.

This Phuket business community was composed of Chinese immigrants and also of Peranakans, descendants of earlier waves of Chinese migration to peninsular Malaya who had developed their own hybrid culture, part Hokkien Chinese, part indigenous Malay. Peranakans have occupied a prominent position in the history of the Chinese communities of Indonesia, Singapore, and Melaka (Malacca). It is often forgotten that they were prominent in the culture and development of Phuket as well, carrying up the coast from Malaya the so-called “Sino-Portuguese” architecture and the language, kinship patterns, apparel and culinary traditions of their community.

Improved land and air transportation in the 20th century gradually facilitated tighter integration of Phuket with the rest of the Thai nation. As the decades passed, the Phuket Peranakan community began to forget its earlier traditions and lose its sense of community distinctiveness. But in the 1990s, Dr Yongtanit, professor of architecture and town planning at Thammasat University, made it his mission to work with the descendants of the Peranakan community of Phuket, preserving their architecture, reviving their intangible culture and restoring pride in their history. Today, the architecture has been preserved, and the intangible culture is once again a vibrant part of community life.

As a mark of their appreciation and esteem for Dr Yongtanit, the Phuket Peranakan community arranged that when, for the first time in many decades, a traditional Peranakan wedding ceremony would next be held in Phuket, it would be on the occasion of Dr Yongtanit’s own wedding!

Dr Yongtanit is one of the leading teachers and practitioners of heritage conservation in Thailand. In addition to his academic duties at Thammasat University, he is an advisor on conservation to the Crown Property Bureau, an advisor to the council of the Siam Society, winner of the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation in 2008 and a Fulbright’s Thai Visiting Scholar in 2009.

On this trip, Dr Yongtanit will share his knowledge of Phuket Peranakan culture and way of life, and will use it as a case study in how cultural heritage protection can be successfully undertaken in Thailand through strong community engagement at the local level.


The fee for the trip is 19,000 baht (17,000 baht for Siam Society members) including transportation, two nights’ accommodation at Cape Panwa Hotel and five meals. For bookings and more information, call 02-661-6470—7.

Location

84 Moo 8, Sakdidej Rd., Wichit, Muang Phuket, Phuket 83000 Thailand

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