A big day of 126 km being Troy and Gile's last day of riding with me on the Asian leg. Mostly highway riding and a well deserved tail wind getting us to Surat Thani in pronto time (faster than normal). Matt Brown arrived to start riding after the rest day tomorrow, and Troy and Giles depart for Australia. Matt commented on his first day of riding after the rest day - that it was a big one for his first ride. Troy replied by saying "No worries mate, we can split it up for you... 65kms before lunch and 65kms after lunch."
Met with some local Thai agricultural government officials and farmers along the way who were keen to show us a crop of new crotalaria juncea - Hmmmmmm!! You may think, as I did, what's that???
Crotalaria juncea, known as brown hemp, Indian hemp, Madras hemp, or sunn hemp, is a tropical Asian plant of the legume family Fabaceae. It is generally considered to have originated in India.
It is now widely grown throughout the tropics and subtropics as a source of green manure, fodder and lignified fiber obtained from its stem. Sunn hemp is also being looked at as a possible bio-fuel. It can be an invasive weed and has been listed as a noxious weed in some jurisdictions.
It bears yellow flowers and elongate, alternate leaves.
A rest day as mentioned in Surat Thani tomorrow and I've already been to explore some of the Southern food on display at the local markets.
Surat Thani (often shortened to Surat) former name Chaiya Province, is the largest of the southern provinces (changwat) of Thailand, on the western shore of the Gulf of Thailand. Surat Thani means "city of good people", a title given to the city by King Vajiravudh (Rama VI).
The area of Surat Thani was already inhabited in prehistoric times by Semang and Malayan tribes. Founded in the 3rd century, until the 13th century the Srivijaya kingdom dominated the Malay Peninsula. The city Chaiya contains several ruins from Srivijaya times, and was probably a regional capital of the kingdom. Some Thai historians even claim that it was the capital of the kingdom itself for some time, but this is generally disputed. Wiang Sa was another main settlement of that time.
After the fall of the Srivijaya, it was divided into the cities (mueang) Chaiya, Thatong (now Kanchanadit), and Khirirat Nikhom. While Chaiya was administered directly from the capital, Thatong and Khirirat were controlled by the Nakhon Si Thammarat Kingdom. In 1899 they were merged into one province named Chaiya. In 1915, the court of the Monthon Chumphon was moved to Bandon, which received its new name Surat Thani on 29 July 1915 during a visit of King Vajiravudh (Rama VI), and was likely influenced by the major port city of Surat in Gujarat, India. The monthon was renamed Surat accordingly. In 1926 it was abolished and incorporated into monthon Nakhon Si Thammarat. In 1933 the monthon was dissolved, so the province became the first level administrative subdivision.
The provincial administration was first located in a building in Tha Kham (Amphoe Phunphin). Shortly before World War II, it was moved to the city of Surat Thani on the banks of the Tapi River, which is named after the Tapi river in southern Gujarat, India. When the Japanese invaded Thailand on 8 December 1941, the building caught fire in the battle for the city and was destroyed. It was rebuilt in 1954, but on 19 March 1982, it was destroyed by a bomb planted by communist rebels, killing five people. The third building was erected in the south of the city. The former site of the provincial hall is now the city pillar shrine (Lak Mueang).
More to follow on Surat Thani next post on our rest day .
Truck, Troy, Giles and Matt
On the long ride home, Southern Thailand
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