Sunflower LopBuri
 


The sunflowers of LopBuri

The province of LopBuri is now well known for its sunflower fields (Thung Thantawan) ( ทุ่งทานตะวัน ). The largest sunflower field in Thailand is located in Tambon Chong Sarika, Phatthana Nikom district.

One of the unique aspects about sunflowers is that, in the case of immature flower buds (only), their heads follow the movement of the sun; (but the mature flowers do not, and usually face east).



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Sunflower LopBuri

Introduction


LopBuri is a dignified city and is one of Thailand's oldest towns.

It was the second capital of Siam during the Ayutthaya period. It was rebuilt in the 17th century by King Narai the Great with the help of French architects, and its old palaces and temples are a pleasing mix of Thai and Western styles.

In addition the province of LopBuri is now very well known for its sunflower fields (Thung Thantawan ).

Today the town is also famous for its monkeys, which seem to have made part of the city centre their home. Also of interest is the Pasak Chonprasit Dam in the province. In addition the province of Lop Buri is now well known for its sunflower fields (Thung Thantawan ), especially at Tambon Chong Sarika, Phatthana Nikom district. With traces of its original landscapes still visible, LopBuri, like Ayutthaya, is a great gateway for anyone interested in Siam's history. And, at just 153 kilometres from Bangkok, it's also just right for a weekend break, with dams, waterfalls, fields of golden sunflowers and endless hilltop temples to explore along the way.

The most important agricultural produce of LopBuri are (in order) :-
    rice, maize, sunflower, cassava, green beans, and peanuts.

Sunflowers cover 300,000 rai (12,000 acres) of farmland in LopBuri Province.

Sunflower LopBuri

The sunflower festival of Lop Buri


Every year in early December (usually the first weekend) LopBuri holds a sunflower festival.

As the weather gets a lititle bit cooler, relatively, the sunflowers bloom.

At this time of year the rainy season has already finished, but sunflowers can survive on the remaining moisture in the soil.


This means that after farmers have harvested their regular crop (whatever this might be), they can then plant sunflowers for the dry season. Accordingly, sunflowers have become a popular second crop, as farmers can fully utilise their land the whole year.

Many sunflower fields can be found in sub districts Tha Luang and Pattananikom. The largest sunflower field is at Tambon Chong Sarika, Phatthana Nikom district.

For details about the exact dates and locations of the festival, contact TAT (The tourist authority of Thailand): www.tat.or.th/festival
Or telephone the Lopburi Provincial Agriculture Extension Office (LPAEO) on 036 411 296.

Lop Buri province usually announces a list of places where the sunflowers are expected to bloom one after another, along with many other outdoor activities for weekend visitors.

The flowers bloom in different places at slightly different times.

The first place where the flowers bloom is Chong Sarika subdistrict. The flowers here tend to mature by November 15.

The second burst of yellow is around the Sab Lek reservoir in Lop Buri town, usually until November 27. This reservoir is also an ideal place for camping, mountainbike riding, rock climbing, boating and hiking.

The last bout of blooming, also said to be the best, takes place at Chin Lae mountain, along with the Sunflower Blooming Festival between December 2 and 13.

For additional weekend activities, there is the A03 Army Camp, a short ride from Chin Lae mountain. The goodspirited officers there lead you into the jungle for shooting, canoeing, cliff climbing and rappelling, and a course on jungle survival.

Sunflower LopBuri

Map and Directions


Lop Buri is 153 kilometres from Bangkok, and so is ideal for a weekend trip. There is plenty to see - temples, dams, waterfalls, fields of golden sunflowers.

One possible route would be to approach Lop Buri province from the south east. Take route 1 from Bangkok then route 2 to Korat (Nakhon Ratchasima) until you reach Muak Lek, then turn left into road 2089 heading north east towards Wang Muang, the district of Saraburi that borders Lop Buri.

There are sunflower fields to explore as you head into Lop Buri: along roads 3017 and 3333 (in Phattana Nikhom district) and on sections of road 21 leading to Chai Badan district.

Whilst in Phattana Nikhom distric, don't forget to visit the Pasak Cholasith Dam - the world's longest earthen dam. (the Dam can be accessed by road 3017 and also be reached by train).

The return part of the trip is Lop Buri city and its historical monuments. The city is well served by road 3017. From Lop Buri, take road 3196 and 347 respectively to get to Ayutthaya via road 32 that leads to Bangkok.

Lop Buri map

Lop Buri map

Sunflower LopBuri

Pa Sak Chonprasit Dam


A visit to the sunflower fields is often accompanied by a trip to the Pasak Chonprasit dam.

The Pa Pa Sak Cholasit Dam (aka Pa Sak Jolasid dam) is on the Pa Sak River at Ban Kaeng Sua Ten, Tambon Nongbua, Phatthana Nikhom District, Lopburi Province.

The 4,860 metre wide and 36.5 metre high dam is an earth filled dam with an impervious core. It is the largest dam of its type in the world.

The storage capacity is 785 million cubic metres of water at normal water level, with a maximum capacity of 960 million cubic meters. Additionally to the water management, the dam also supplies about 6.7 MW of hydro-electric power.

The Pa Sak Cholasit Dam project provides water to the plantations in the Pa Sak valley and lower Chao Phraya valley. The dam also helps water management in Bangkok by allowing more flood control, as the Pa Sak river was one of the main sources of flooding in the Bangkok metropolitan area.

There is also a Pasak river basin museum.



Another interesting feature for visitors is the railway line. Although not clearly shown on the map, sections of the track span the water. This railway line is actually a small detour loop line off the main north eastern line to Khon Kaen and Ubon Ratchathani. It rejoins the main north eastern line at Bua Yai junction (between Khorat and Khon Kaen).

This loop line starts at Kaeng Khoi juction (close to Saraburi town). Change here if travelling from Bangkok. This bypass loop route stops at stations including:
Kaeng Khoi Junction, Kaeng Sua Ten, Nong Bua, Manao Wan, Khok Salung, Sura Narai, Thung Ta Kaeo, Ya Ka Ta, Lam Narai, (and then others including Khok Kli, Wa Tabaek, Huai Yai Chio, Non Khro Chatturat, Nong Chim, Ban Lueam), and Bua Yai Junction.

The Kaeng Khoi junction is located just before the end of the double track line from Bangkok. The junction is the gateway to the Issan region of Thailand. All trains regardless if passenger or cargo must pass though this junction on their way to or from the Issan region.
The main double track line from Bangkok splits into 3 smaller main lines at Kaeng Khoi Junction. These three lines are:
Kaeng Khoi Junction to Bua Yai Junction. (Branch Loop Line)
Kaeng Khoi Junction to Thanon Chira Junction (Main line to Ubon Ratchathani)
Kaeng Khoi Junction to Klong 19 Junction. (Cargo only line to Chachoengsao)

The line from Bangkok to Kaeng Khoi Junction opened in 1897. The very steeply graded main line to Ubon Ratchathani opened in various short stages from 1898 until fully completed in 1930. This line along with the Bangkok route was built as a 1435mm gauge line which was re gauged to 1000mm in 1922.

The branch line from Kaeng Khoi Junction to Bua Yai was built in stages from 1956 until finally completed in 1967. This line was built as a lighter graded line to bypass the steep 1 in 30 grades and tight curves of the Kaeng Khoi to Thanon Chira line. This route has the only tunnel in the north east region of Thailand.

The Bangkok line and a short section of the Ubon Ratchathani main line to Map Ka Bao was double tracked in 2002 to ease chronic line congestion on the Bangkok side of Kaeng Khoi Junction. However passenger train delays still occur regularly even on the double track section.

See north eastern rail timetable:

www.railway.co.th/home/srt/timetable/northeastlinetxt.asp?lenguage=Eng

Look for Rural Commuter from Kaeng Khoi junction to Bua Yai, and/or Lam Narai.
(ie. train number: 433, 437, 439 and 434, 438, 440 for the return journey).
( double check this information !! )

Pa Sak Chonprasit Dam map

Pa Sak Chonprasit railway

Pa Sak Chonprasit Dam map

Sunflower LopBuri

The uses of Sunflowers


Sunflowers are actually one of four major crops of global importance.

Every part of the sunflower has a use for something, and no part goes to waste.



Sunflower LopBuri

Food Source

Raw sunflower kernels are nutritious for humans. The kernels contain 55 percent protein. Other vitamins and minerals in sunflowers include B, E and A vitamins, phosphorus, nitrogen, calcium and iron.
If you remove the flowers when they are just buds, they can be cooked and eaten like artichokes.
Sunflowers also provide a source of food for birds and animals. They retain their flower heads filled with seeds so during the cold winter months, animals can find food. Sunflowers can be processed into a peanut butter alternative, sunflower butter.
In Germany, it is mixed with rye flour to make Sonnenblumenkernbrot (literally: sunflower whole seed bread).
Sunflowers are a staple ingredient in the majority of commercial birdseed and the leaves are often used to make feed for livestock.

Oil

1 acre of sunflowers, extracted from the seeds, can provide more oil than 1 acre of soybeans.
An acre of sunflowers is able to produce 600 pounds of oil that can be used for cooking, is used for cooking, as a carrier oil and to produce margarine and biodiesel.
(ie. 1 rai can produce 107 kilograms of oil)
( 1 acre is equiavlent to 2.529 rai.       1 rai is equal to 1600 square metres )
Sunflower oil is also used to make soap, lubricants and candles.
The oil is also used to treat skin conditions, sinusitis, hemorrhoids and leg ulcers.

Medical uses

The roots of the sunflower plant, when made into a poultice, can be used for snakebites and spider bites.
The leaves can brewed into a tea and ingested to treat fevers, lung ailments and diarrhea.
It is also used as a carbohydrate source for diabetics.

Cleaning Contaminated Water and Soil

Sunflower roots helped clean contaminated water in Chernobyl after the historic nuclear accident in 1986.
The use of some plants to clean soil is called phytoremediation. The word phytoremediation is from the Ancient Greek, phyto, meaning "plant", and from the Latin, remedium, meaning "restoring balance". Phytoremediation is a process that takes advantage of the fact that green plants can extract and concentrate certain elements within their ecosystem. For example, some plants can grow in metal-laden soils, extract certain metals through their root systems, and accumulate them in their tissues without being damaged. In this way, pollutants are either removed from the soil and groundwater or rendered harmless.
Overall, phytoremediation has great potential for cleaning up toxic metals, pesticides, solvents, gasoline, and explosives.
In 1996 transgenic strains of sunflowers, Helianthus sp. had been developed. While phytotechnologies generally are applied in situ, ex situ applications (e.g., hydroponics systems) are possible. Typical organic contaminants, such as petroleum hydrocarbons, gas condensates, crude oil, chlorinated compounds, pesticides, and explosive compounds, can be addressed using plant-based methods.

phytoremediation using sunflowers

Phytotechnologies also can be applied to typical inorganic contaminants, such as heavy metals, metalloids, radioactive materials, and salts. These could remove as much as 95% of toxic contaminants in as lititle as 24 hours. Subsequently, Helianthus was planted on a styrofoam raft at one end of a contaminated pond near Chernobyl, and in twelve days the cesium concentrations within its roots were reportedly 8,000 times that of the water, while the strontium concentrations were 2,000 times that of the water.
A similar campaign was mounted in response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

Other uses

The flowers can be used to make a dye.
The stems are used to make a number of things like paper, clothes and microscope slide mounts.
It is also used as a paint additive
The stems contain a fibre which may be used in paper production.
Sunflowers also produce latex.
Years ago, people used pieces of the stems to fill life preservers and many people burned them when firewood was scarce.

Sunflower LopBuri

 


Sunflower LopBuri
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