Proud southerner will never forget the day he rowed for Their Majesties
As the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of His Majesty the King's accession to the throne draw near, a villager in Narathiwat's Rusoh district, who once rowed a boat for Their Majesties the King and Queen during a visit they made to the area, recalled his proudest moment and the royal project that brought new life to Ban Bakong villagers.
"I must have done some good deeds and been blessed to be chosen out of many people by His Majesty to row the boat for them when they visited Beung Bua Bakong," Nuch Anantranont recalled. 'The opportunity to so closely serve Their Majesties was a dream come true and made me and my family very proud," he said.
At the age of 88, many of Nuch's memories have become blurred with the passage of time, but his recollection of the moment he shared with Their Majesties has never faded and still brings a proud smile to his face whenever he's asked about it.
"I'm still strong enough to row a boat for Their Majesties if they visit our village again," he added.
Nuch's schoolteacher daughter Chusri Anantranont explained for her father that the family's proudest moment came on September 22, 1984 when Their Majesties along with Their Royal Highnesses Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and Princess Chulabhorn Valayalaksana graciously visited Ban Bakong villagers who had been affected by a natural disaster.
Out of some 10 available rowers, His Majesty chose Nuch, then 66 years old, a choice many villagers believe was due to the sacredness of monk Luang Phor Dam of Wat Saithong, who gave the boat made from a whole tree trunk to Nuch, Chusri said.
On the boat, Nuch explained in his southern dialect to Their Majesties that most villagers in the area were farmers who relied on water from the 150-rai Beung Bua Bakong pond. However, whenever floods occurred, the rice fields would be damaged and in times of drought the water in the large pond would run so dry that villagers could not grow anything at all. His Majesty attentively took notes, looked up a map of Rusoh and asked about the villagers' livelihoods and problems in the community.
Their Majesties then got off the boat at a wooden shelter, since demolished and replaced by a pavilion in honour of the royal visit and in the hopes that Their Majesties will visit them again, she said.
Another precious moment occurred when Their Majesties got out of the boat. Her Majesty the Queen kindly asked Nuch to give her his hand so that she could help him off the boat. Noticing that Nuch's right hand was shaking due to old age, she held his hand and told him to see a doctor.
Eventually, Their Majesties launched a royal project at Beung Bua Bakong to develop a small-scale irrigation system to ensure a stable supply of water to the majority of the village farmers.
After the royal visit, Ban Bakong villagers were happy and proud to see a picture taken during the trip printed on the back of a Bt1,000 banknote. "Almost all of the households in Ban Bakong keep copies of this banknote as an auspicious item for their families."
In 1986, two years after the royal trip, Nuch was assigned by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn during his visit to Ban Bakong to row a boat for the Prince at Beung Bua Bakong.
The royal trips changed the lives of hundreds of families in the village. The royal project transformed it from a poor, underdeveloped area, which many left in search of jobs in the city, into a place whose residents had occupations with stable incomes and whose children received an education, Chusri said.