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Uttaradit and Larngsat

Every September Uttaradit province hosts the "Larngsat fruit festival". Larngsat is not a well known fruit for most short time visitors to Thailand so the festival alone may not be enough to attract visitors to Uttaradit. Also, looking at the map Uttaradit is considered to be in the central region of Thailand so the 5 hour drive to Uttaradit may not seem worth the effort.

But, beside the annual fruit festival, Uttaradit has a number of sites worth seeing. The center of Uttaradit was entirely destroyed by fire in 1967 and has been rebuilt with more durable materials. It is on the right bank of the Mae Naam Naan in the middle of a broad plain encircled by a chain of mountains that can be seen in the distance. The success of its agricultural output is a result of the construction of the Pa Som Dam on the Mae Naam Naan; it is also called 'Khuen Sirikit' after the reigning queen. The drive to the dam is 61 kms. The dam is 160 m high and 800 m wide, and the lake behind it covers 22 000 hectares. This vast expanse of water provides electricity for the region and is a source of fish for the people living near its banks. The biggest and oldest teak tree in the world was discovered nearby. Its trunk was 9.57 m in circumference and 47 m high, and it is probably more than one thousand years old. This area is popular with visitors and has been turned into a national park with the name Wana Utthayan Ton Sak Yai.

In front of the provincial offices is the statue of Phraya Pichai Daab Huk, a past governor of the town who in 1772 defended it against the Burmese and forced them to beat a retreat. The Phraya Pichai Museum located next to the statue displays Phraya Pichai's history and his broken battle sword which has long been known to the Thai as Daab Huk. The museum also has an exhibition of the period of Ayuthya. In a small Chinese-style chapel at the Wat Tha Thanon located between the railway and the street running alongside the river can be seen a fine seated Buddha of the Chiang Saen period, Luang Paw Phet, which is much respected.

Wat Phra Boromathart is a handsome Laotian-style temple restored in the eighteenth century. In front of its wiharn is a deep portico covered by a roof with low wings on either side; above the doorway are remains of wall paintings. Behind the wiharn is another portico, rather unusual for this type of architecture, just as deep as the one at the front, but with a lower roof. Both porticoes have pediments decorated with extremely fine, carved wood panels. The small ubosot, to the right of the wiharn, is less interesting. Behind this group is a large chedi on a square base, flanked by smaller chedis; it dates from the Sukhothai period, and shows Singhalese influence with has not been obliterated by the restoration undertaken in the Ayuthya period.

One km after Wat Phra Boromathart is the Wat Phra Taen Si La Ard, a place of frequent pilgrimage. Inside the temple compound is a modern wiharn over a stone in the shape of a Buddha's footprint. Behind the altar can be seen seated and standing Buddhas of the wiharn are four footprints, on within the other, in bronze. Outside the compound can be seen a small Chinese temple dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy and a notable two-tiered sala, whose internal beam work, all of teak, is a technical masterpiece.

On another peak of the same hill a few steps away from this last mentioned temple is Wat Phra Yeun Buddha Baat Yukon consisting of a mondop with a tiered roof surrounded by an elegant peristyle and a small chapel with two seated Buddhas dating from the Sukhothai period, made of a mixture of gold, silver and bronze. Three ruined late rite chedis are behind the mondop.Between Wat Phra Boromathart and Wat Phra Taen Sila ard, to the right of the Si Satchanalai Road the ditches and ramparts of the old Uttaradit can still be seen over some length.

A historical mining site of iron ore is located at the Naam Peeh subsdisrict about 14 kms away from the district office of Thong--Saen-Khaan (42 kms southeast of the province center). This natural high quality iron ore has proven ideal for producing excellent sword blades and other tools.

Crossing the Mae Naam Naan by the bridge to the south of the town and going along the road to Baan Kung Tha Pao for 15 kms along the left bank of the river, there is Wat Phra Fang whose romantic ruins are shaded by beautiful trees. The journey cab be done by boat or a car. Wat Phra Fang was founded in the Sukhothai period. The columns of the wiharn support a partially collapsed roof and the chedi and particularly the small restored ubosot from the Ayuthya period are worth seeing. The Sukhothai-style temple is decorated with more recent stucco work and has a carved wood pediment and door.

Langsart Fruit

Langsart grows on a tree of medium height. The leaf pattern consists of one large leaf with 5-7 small leaves. The fragrant yellow petals hang in pendulous spikes and start blooming in midsummer.The fruit hang in bunches of 8 to 20 pieces. It's known as Lansium domesticum. The smooth outer skin is a dirty yellow color. Under the thin peel, which exudes a milky sap, are about five white or pinkish segments unequal in size. Most segments are sweet, but one or two contain a viable seed and are very bitter to the taste. Some people enjoy the contrast of flavors.

In addition to Langsart, there is other fruit which is similar to Langsart called "Long gong". Long gong is rather round and sweeter than Langsart and grown extensively in Uttaradit province 200 kms to the east of Chiang Mai. The original habitat of these two fruit are Indonesia and Malaysia. Read "What is that Tree" written by David Engle for more information.

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