Trat, Khlong Yai, Khao Saming, Bo Rai, Laem Ngop, Ko Kut, Ko Chang
Trat is a province of Thailand, about 315 kilometres from Bangkok. This small province is located in the east of Thailand, at the border to Battambang, Pursat and Koh Kong of Cambodia, at the shore to the Gulf of Thailand. The neighboring province is Chanthaburi to the northeast. The Cardamom mountain range forms the boundary to Cambodia in the east of the province. The second biggest island of Thailand is Ko Chang, belonging to the province. The island, together with more than 40 surrounding smaller islands, forms the Mu Ko Chang Marine National Park. Trat is most famous for gemstone mining as well as gem trading. The main attraction in Trat is the massive island of Ko Chang, which Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has slated as being developed as the next Phuket. His declaration was followed by massive land grabs by persons of influence across the island - millions of dollars worth of investment followed - some went into tasteful luxurious resorts while much unfortunately went into truly awful, short-sighted debacles. Simultaneously many small landholders who had been on the island for generations were displaced. In that way at least, Ko Chang has followed perfectly in the footsteps of Phuket. Further south from Ko Chang sits a bevy of other island destinations, including Ko Maak, Ko Kut and Ko Wai, but there are still others to choose from. For the beach-bum with time on their hands, Trat province has a lot of distractions to offer. On the mainland, the Khao Banthat mountains creates a natural eastern border with Cambodia, but this was not enough to stem tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the terror and bloodshed in Cambodia during Pol Pot's notoriously brutal rule. Up until the early 1990s the red glow from artillery occasionally haunted the skyline in the evenings and closed the road south of the provincial capital to the border when it was at its worst. The remnants of the refugee camps can still be seen south of Trat. The Cambodian area bordering Trat was a Khmer Rouge stronghold and with its extensive natural resources, such as gems and timber which were smuggled into Thailand to finance the war, many fortunes were made - on both sides. Even today, the border crossing between Thailand's Hat Lek and Cambodia's Ko Kong remains a popular route for smuggled goods, drugs and human traffickers. This border-crossing, now open to international visitors leads to the Cambodian province of Ko Kong and onwards to Sihanoukville.
History The history of Trat can be traced back to the reign of King Prasat Thong of the Ayutthaya Kingdom. In Ayutthaya period during the reign of King Naresuan, the town was called "Baan Bang Pra." While King Rama V was on the throne, Thai government inevitably made a treaty with France granting the area of current Trat Province to the western country in order that France would withdraw its force from Chanthaburi Province. Later, on March 23, 1906, the King had to grant areas, namely Pratabong, Siem Reap and Sri Sophon to France in exchange with Trat, islands and towns on the right bank of Mekong River. Thus, Trat residents regard March 23 as the "Independence Day of Trat" and organize "Trat Recalling Day" every year. They also built up King Rama V Monument at the City hall to commemorate the King's attempt to keep Trat with Thailand. On January 17 1941, during Indochina War, French Squadron transgressed Thailand's territorial waters. Thai Flotilla came to protect the land. Thus, the war which was later known as "Koh Chang Naval Battle" began. Thai Troop won and managed to drive out French Squadron. however, Thai side lost three warships, namely Songkhla, Chonburi and Thonburi as well as some naval officers. Therefore, on the date of every year, Thai Naval Army holds the annual merit-making day to dedicate to those who sacrificed their lives in their effort to protect the country.