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.
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.
The flowers bloom in different places at slightly different times.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.