Friday, February 26, 2010

Thailand: Trang(董里府)

Trang (also Muang Thap Thiang,ตรัง,董里府,舊稱什田府) is the one of the southern provinces (changwat) of Thailand, at the western shore of the Malay Peninsula to the Andaman Sea. The province borders on Nakhon Si Thammarat Province to the north, Satun Province and the Indian Ocean (Andaman Sea) to the south, Phatthalung Province to the east and the Indian Ocean and Krabi Province to the west.

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Trang is considered a magnificent coastal province as it long, beautiful coastline stretches 199 kilometers along the Indian Ocean. The province is located on the coast of the Andaman Sea, and contains 46 islands together with the mainland area. There are only few plains, and most of the area is hills. In addition, the province has two major rivers flowing through it, the Trang River, which originates in the Khao Luang Mountain Range and Maenam Palian(Palian River) from the Banthat Mountain Range.

It has along western coastline of about 119 kilometres. The province consists of an archipelago in the Andaman Sea with over 46 islands. Of these, 12 are in Amphoe Kantang, 13 in Amphoe Palian and 21 in Amphoe Sikao. The best time for sea travel is during October to May. Situated along the Andaman coast, Trang province is home to innumerable beautiful islands, while the mountainous eastern region is home to dramatic waterfalls, caves and pristine jungle. Between the mountains and the coast are extensive plantations of rubber.

The southern coast of the province is protected in the Mu Ko Phetra National Park. The estuary of the Trang River together with the Hat Chao Mai Marine National Park and Ko Libong Non-hunting Area are also a registered Ramsar wetland.

Trang used to be a port involved in foreign trade. It was the first city where rubber was planted. Phraya Ratsadanupradit Mahison Phakdi brought rubber from Malaysia and planted it here before anywhere else in southern Thailand in 1899. Rubber is now considered an important commodity of Thailand. The important Trang River flows through the province from its origin in the Khao Luang mountain range and the Palian River from the Banthat mountain range. Trang province has an area of approximately 5,000 square km.

This province was formerly a part of the ancient kingdom Kedah Tua - A Kedahan-Malay kingdom. he stone inscription at Wat Sema Muang, Nakhon Si Thammarat. The inscription was about King Sri Thamma Sokaraj's erecting Nakhon Sri Thammarat at Hat Sai Kaew in B.E. 1098 (555), and a Buddha's relic cottage therein. In erecting a mother town, according to Brahman tradition, satellite towns must also be erected. According to the inscription, there were 12 such satellite towns, called the 12 animal years. Muang Trang was one of the animal years, the year of horse, and therefore had a horse as its town insignia. Muang Trang had then officially come into existence Trang used to be one of 12 satellite towns that came into existence 900 years ago, but it was only during the era of King Rama II that the place was recognized and the province got its first governor. The first Westerner to arrive in Trang was Captain James Low in 1838 to negotiate commercial benefits.

Actually, the town was located in the Khuanthani (now a tambon in district Kantang). In 1893, the then governor Phraya Ratsadanupradit Mahison Phakdi, planning to make Trang an important seaport to the west, relocated the town to district Kantang which is at Trang River delta. It was moved again to its present location 26 km inland in 1916 by King Rama VI due to repeated floodings.

(i)Kuan Thani(1802).
According to the directory of Nakhon Si Thammarat, B.E. 2345 (1802), during the reign of King Rama ll. Phraya Borirak Phubet (Nol) was appointed governor of Nakhon Si Thammarat Succeeding Chao Phraya Nokhon (Phat). He, therefore, proposed that his son, Muang, be Appointed governor of Trang. The king then gave Mr. Muang a title of Luang Upai Rajthani, and appointed him the first governor of Trang. A town shrine was erected at Kuan Thani (Still exists at Tambon Kuan Thani, Amphor Kantang, and 8 km south of the city). In B.E. 2367 (1824), A significant historical event occurred at Trang in Kuan Thani, during which England sent Captain James Low to negotiate on commercial benefits of the Malaysian Peninsula with Phraya Nakhon (Nol) in Trang. In B.E. 2381 (1838), when Phra Songkram Vichit was Trang governor, the So-called Koh Yao pirates attacked Trang and finally took over the city. However not long after, forces from Nakhon Si Thammarat and Songkhlia subdued the pirates.

(ii) Kantang(1893).
In B.E. 2433 (1890), King Rama V visited the south and paid his first visit to the city of Trang. He contemplated that the city (at Kuan Thani) was in a very dilapidated condition compared with The Chinese community at Tambon Kantang (where pepper was cultivated for export to Penang). The king, therefore, reasoned that under a capable governor, the city could have been very well developed owing to its fertile land. He then caused Phraya Rasdanupradit Mahissaraphakdi, or Kho Sim Bee Na Ranong, who had successfully developed Phuket to his satisfaction, to transfer from Krabi to become the governor of Trang in B.E. 2433 (1890). Phraya Rasdanupradit contemplated that the location of Trang at Kuan Thani was too far away from the coast, unsuitable for trading Purposes and difficult to expand. With his strong intention to make Trang a significant seaport in the West Coast, he, therefore, sought permission from the king to move the city from Kuan Thani to Tambon Kantang, and obtained the king's permission in B.E. 2436 (1893). When the City was moved to Tambon Kantang, Phraya Rasdanupradit laid down so many foundations for development for the city of Trang, that the citizens referred to him as "the king of Development". He was able to make the city's rapid economic growth possible from rearrangement of Town plan. Foreign trade encouragement, construction of Kantang seaport and a road linking Trang and Phatthalung through Phap Pha mountain region, which at that time was an extremely Difficult task but was perfectly completed under his able supervision. To commemorate his numerous contributions, the local people erected a statue of Phraya Rasdanupradit in B.E. 2494 (1951) at his former residence, which is still in existence to date in the city of Trang.

(iii)Thap Thiang(1915).
Though Trang had been very prosperous under the leadership of Governor Phraya Rasdanupradit. During the World War l, King Rama VI visited Trang (at Kantang) in B.E. 2458 (1915) and determined That Trang's being located at Kantang could be subject to enemy's attack, coupled with a spreading of cholera at that time. Moreover, Kantang's being lowland would be difficult for future Expansion. He considered that Tambon Thap Thiang was geographically suitable for a city to be erected there. He, therefore, caused the city to be moved in B.E. 2458 (1915) from Tambon Kantang to Tambon Thap Thiang, where Trang is currently situated. Some people still refer to Trang as "Thap Thiang", which is the name of the location on which Trang is situated.

Meaning of Trang
Many hypothesis on the meaning of Trang, 4 of which are as follows:
1. From "Trangdaburi", a name of one of the twelve satellite towns surrounding Nakhon Si Thammarat: the one with a seaport and a horse insignia.
2.From the word "Trangka", which means wave, since the landscape of Trang is characterised by high and low formations, like a wave.
3. From the Malay word "TrangKae", which means "dawn" or "the day comes". This is another theory proposed by many historians, the origin being that Malaysian merchant ships usually reached the mouth of the Trang River at dawn. Trang was an important sea port of southern Thailand. According to legend the ships always arrived at morning, which lead to the name of the town - Trang derives from the Malay word for light (terang).
5. From the Khmer word "Trang", which means a species of palm tree generally found in Trang area, but is rare elsewhere. This rather makes sense since most of the places in this region were named after its local natural resources. It is, therefore, possible that the place as named after the particular local tree.

However, the mater remains inconclusive and the word's exact meaning remains a puzzle.

The Trang area was the first area of Thailand where rubber trees were planted, brought there by governor Phraya Ratsadanupradit Mahison Phakdi from Malaysia in 1899.

Trang is a province less traveled to by tourists, compared to Phuket, Krabi and Phang-Nga. It was only recently that Trang has been poised to establish itself on the international travel map.

Trang Province (changwat)is subdivided into 10 districts (amphoe). These are further subdivided into 87 subdistricts (tambon) and 697 villages (muban). The amphoe are:

1. Mueang Trang (เมืองตรัง)- capital district since 1916
2. Kantang(กันตัง) - the old capital in 1893-1916 and seaport. The city pillar shrine (Lak Mueang) of Trang is still located at its original location at Khuan Thani.
3. Yan Ta Khao
4. Palian
5. Sikao
6. Huai Yot
7. Wang Wiset
8. Na Yong
9. Ratsada
10. Hat Samran

Mueang Trang

Mueang Trang (Thai: เมืองตรัง , also Mueang Thap Thiang ( Thai: เมืองทับเที่ยง ) is the capital district(Amphoe Mueang ) of Trang Province, Thailand. Mueang Trang or the previous name Thap Thiang, became the capital district of Trang Province in 1916, when the capital was moved inland from Kantang, which was prone to flooding.

The district is subdivided into 15 subdistricts (tambon), which are further subdivided into 118 villages (muban). The township (thesaban tambon) Khlong Teng covers parts of tambon Na Tham Nuea. There are further 14 Tambon administrative organizations (TAO).

1. Thap Thiang ทับเที่ยง
4. Na Phala นาพละ
5. Ban Khuan บ้านควน
6. Na Bin La นาบินหลา
7. Khuan Pring ควนปริง
8. Na Yong Tai นาโยงใต้
9. Bang Rak บางรัก
10. Khok Lo โคกหล่อ
13. Na To Ming นาโต๊ะหมิง
14. Nong Trut หนองตรุด
15. Nam Phut น้ำผุด
17. Na Ta Luang นาตาล่วง
18. Ban Pho บ้านโพธิ์
19. Na Tham Nuea นาท่ามเหนือ
20. Na Tham Tai นาท่ามใต้

The city (thesaban nakhon) Trang has a population of 59,637 (2005) and covers the whole tambon Thap Thiang of Mueang Trang district.

Governors of Trang
1.1802-1938? - Muang, Luang Upai Rajthani, son of Phraya Borirak Phubet (Nol),who was appointed governor of Nakhon Si Thammarat. Trang was at Kuan Thani.
2. 1838?-?)- Phra Songkram Vichit
List of Governor of Trang from Na Ranong family
3. 1890-1901 - The Phraya Ratsadanupradit Mahisornpakdi (Khaw Sim Bee Na Ranong, 1856-1913) was the first governor of Trang(at Kantang) . He was assassinated by a Siamese dresser, Ma Chan, in Trang on 25-3-1913. The accused was sentenced to death by judgment in Penang (source: NST dated 6-6-1913 Pg 8untitled,
4. 1901-1913 - Nephew of Khaw Sim Bee, Phra Satharn Khaw Joo Keat na Ranong who died together with his uncle Khaw SimBee in 1913 attack.
5. 1913- ? Phra Nara (BT, 11 September 1913),son in law of Khaw Sim Bee

Monument of Phraya Rasdanupradit Mahissara Phakdi(Khaw Sim Bee Na Ranong)
Located 1 km. out of town on the road to Phatthalung, this is the monument of an important ruler of Trang who first initiated the idea of growing rubber plants in Trang and later they spread all over the southern part of Thailand. The Phraya Ratsadanupradit Mahisornpakdi (Khaw Sim Bee Na Ranong) Monument was erected to honor the first governor of Trang (1890-1901) who initiated and was instrumental in bringing in the rubber tree seedlings for planting in the province. Trang Municipal Park: Located 1 km east of town on highway 4 is this nice busy park which is the site of the Phraya Rassadanupradit Mahissarapakdi Monument. The monument is dedicated to Phraya Ratsada who helped Trang Town achieve it's prosperity in the late 1800's by developed transportation routes, an education and health system and rubber plantations. The park is used mostly by locals and is a good place to people watch.

Phraya Ratsadanupradit Mahison Phakdi Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์พระยารัษฎานุประดิษฐ์มหิศรภักดี)

This is a historical site where the former ruler of Trang, Phraya Ratsadanupradit, once lived. Inside the two-story wooden building are a wax figure of the former ruler and a complete collection of his daily personal items. Currently, the Na Ranong family manages the house. The Museum is located around 200 meters from Kantang Municipality at No. 1, Khai Phithak Road, Tambon Kantang,Amphoe Kantang, Changwat Trang. The Na Ranong family looks after the house. It is open to the public every day, except Mondays (it is open on public holidays but closed the following day). Guide services are available for group tours, and must be requested in advance at the Kantang Phitthayakon School tel. 0-7525-1100.

The first rubber tree in Thailand (ยางพาราต้นแรกของประเทศไทย)
The first rubber tree in Thailand (ยางพาราต้นแรกของประเทศไทย) is along a road that leads to Kantang. This tree represents the first group of rubber trees that Phraya Ratsadanupradit planted to pioneer the rubber plantation industry in 1899. There is some dispute where the first rubber seeds come from, some said Malaya(possibly Penang?), other said Singapore Botanical Garden(at that time within British Malaya), and Dutch Indonesia. That is for historian to find out.

Chuan Leekpai- The Prime Minister from Trang

Chuan Leekpai(ชวน หลีกภัย,呂基文) was born in Muang District, Trang Province, Thailand on 28-7-1938. Trained as an attorney, Chuan has been active in Thai politics since 1969, rising to lead the Democrat party. He is derided by critics as overly willing to compromise, though supporters point to his success in forming coalition governments. He first ruled as prime minister from September 1992–July 1995, the longest reign of any popularly elected official in Thailand's history. The November 1997 elections returned Chuan to power as he formed another coalition government with representatives from eight different parties. Chuan's priorities remain with the working class, from which he comes. Despite cutbacks in government spending necessitated by the economic crisis that began in July 1997 with the massive devaluation of the bhat, the average Thai had confidence that Chuan would look out for them and had their interests at heart. The economy improved over the next several years. In 2001 Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai (“Thais Love Thais”) party won the election and Shinawatra took over as prime minister. Chuan Leepkai stepped down as head of the Democratic Party in 2003.

Prime Minister for 2 terms:
September 20, 1992 to May 19, 1995
November 9, 1997 to February 9, 2001

The Market in Trang
The two markets, Ta Klang Market and Municipal Market, selling fresh products are not far away from each other. People do not have to worry about dirty water which may be found in the markets in the other provinces here. Trang has been awarded as the cleanest town in Thailand for many years in a row. And its markets are considered to be the cleanest fresh market in Thailand. If you stay in town, it must be a good experience to walk through one of them to see how local people's daily life is.

Related articles/websites:

1. Website of district (Thai only)
3. Chuan Leekpai,
5. Ranong's Provincial Government Site, here on the Na Ranong Clan)

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