Amphoe Umphang

Amphoe Umphang

Infobox_Amphoe
name=Umphang
thai=อุ้มผาง
province=Tak
coordinates=coord|16|1|0|N|98|51|46|E|type:adm2nd_region:TH
area=4,325.4
population=25,757
population_as_of=2005
density=6.0
postal_code=63170
geocode=6308

Umphang ( _th. อุ้มผาง) is the southernmost district ("amphoe") of Tak Province, Thailand at the Thai-Myanmar border. It is also the name of the town center of the district.

Neighboring districts are (North from clockwise): Amphoe Phop Phra; Amphoe Khlong Lan and Amphoe Pang Sila Thong of Kamphaeng Phet Province; Amphoe Mae Wong and King Amphoe Mae Poen of Nakhon Sawan Province; Amphoe Ban Rai of Uthai Thani Province; and Amphoe Thong Pha Phum and Amphoe Sangkhla Buri of Kanchanaburi Province. The western edge of the district has a long boundary with Myanmar (Burma). Surrounded by national parks and wildlife reserves, it is one of the least accessible district in Thailand. Nevertheless, it has one major tourist attraction, Thi Lo Su Waterfall (น้ำตกทีลอซู), the largest waterfall of Thailand.

History

Umphang was established as a district in 1898. It was named Amphoe Mae Klong (อำเภอแม่กลอง) back then and part of Uthai Thani Province. In 1906 it was renamed Amphoe Umphang and moved to Kamphaeng Phet Province. Its status was changed to King Amphoe and moved to Tak Province effective January 1 1926. [cite journal|journal=Royal Gazette|volume=42|issue=0 ก|pages=260–262|title=ประกาศกระทรวงมหาดไทย เรื่อง ยุบแยกและตั้งอำเภอในมณฑลนครสวรรค์|url=http://www.ratchakitcha.soc.go.th/DATA/PDF/2468/A/260.PDF|date=January 17 1926|language=Thai] Finally in 1959 it is promoted back to Amphoe status. [cite journal|journal=Royal Gazette|volume=76|issue=50 ก|pages=108–110|title=พระราชกฤษฎีกาตั้งอำเภออุ้มผาง พ.ศ. ๒๕๐๒|url=http://www.ratchakitcha.soc.go.th/DATA/PDF/2502/A/050/108.PDF|date=May 5 1959|language=Thai]

Etymology

It was speculated that the name Umphang came from Karen word "Umpa", meaning the act of opening bamboo container, this was performed by Burmese to show passport stored in the bamboo to Thai immigration officers.

Geography

Most of Umphang is mountainous, geographically separated from the east part of Tak Province via Thanon Thongchai Mountain Range (ทิวเขาถนนธงชัย). The southern part of Umphang belongs to Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary while the central part near Umphang town is Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary. Directly east of Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary is Mae Wong National Park (in Tak and Kamphaeng Phet Province) and Khlong Lan National Park (in Kamphaeng Phet Province). The area, due to its difficulty of access, were used as a base of Communist Party of Thailand.

An important river in Umphang is Klong River (แม่น้ำกลอง) which originates here and flows southward into Kanchanaburi Province.

Demographics

A large number of the population are hill tribes with Karen people making up the largest proportion. As Karens were the original settlers here before Thais began to migrate into the area, many place names are in Karen language.

Transportation

The Highway 1090 (Mae Sot-Umphang) is the only road linking Umphang to other parts of Thailand. Another highway, Highway 1167, connect Umphang town to Myanmar border. Highway 1090, 164 km in total, has two lanes during much of the way and contains 1,219 curves, a number proudly displayed at numerous places in Umphang. It is one of the toughest roads for those who suffer from motion sickness. The journey through this highway takes about 3 to 4 hours.

There was a Highway 1117 (Khlong Lan-Umphang) project that would have provided a connection from Amphoe Khlong Lan, Kamphaeng Phet Province but the project was shelved in 1987 pending on environmental study. About 115 km of the highway beginning from Khlong Lan was already constructed, leaving the last 28 km on the Umphang side where it stopped in Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary in 1990. Suggestion to finish this project surfaced a few time but was eventually rejected due to the virgin forest the last 28 km section must cut through. Another project linking Umphang to Amphoe Sangkhla Buri, Kanchanaburi Province was proposed in 2004 but was immediately rejected.

Beside the highway 1090, there is a municipal airport in Umphang.

Places

Thi Lo Su Waterfall is one main reason people travel to Umphang. It is the largest waterfall of Thailand, containing many smaller drops combined together for a magnificent view. Its height is about 200 meters and total width is about 400 meters. It is most beautiful during rainy season from June to November because of the larger water flow. However during this period, the road access to the waterfall is closed for safety reason and trekking is required. The peak season for tourism is in December and January where the water level is still high and the road to waterfall (25 km) is open for public. Only cars with four wheel drive can pass this steep and slipperly road. An alternative way to reach the waterfall is by whitewater rafting downstream along the calm section of Klong River and then continue journey either by trekking or by car for another about 12 km. Travelling this way, two waterfalls dropping into Klong River will be seen: Thi Lo Jo Waterfall (น้ำตกทีลอจ่อ), and Sai Rung Waterfall (น้ำตกสายรุ้ง). The name Thi Lo Su, in Karen language, means "giant waterfall" or "black waterfall".

It is only recently that Thi Lo Le Waterfall (น้ำตกทีลอเล) is promoted as an attraction for those who prefer adventure. It is a waterfall dropping directly into Klong River located deep in Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary with no road access. Only traveling with tour companies is possible. The journey to the waterfall typically involves white water rafting along Klong River of about 40 km through rapids of Class 4 or 5 while the journey back is usually by riding elephants. The trip takes 2 or 3 days.

Some other places of interests are Ta Ko Bi Cave (ถ้ำตะโค๊ะบิ), a cave formerly used by Communist Party of Thailand; Doi Hua Mot (ดอยหัวหมด), view point above cloud attitude; Ban Pa La Ta (บ้านปะละทะ), a Karen village dated back to over 250 years ago.

Administration

The district is subdivided into 6 subdistricts ("Tambon"), which are further subdivided into 38 villages ("Muban"). The township ("thesaban tambon") Umphang covers parts of the "tambon" Umphang.

References

* [http://www.tak.go.th/history_umphang.htm Umphang history] (Thai only)
* [http://www.seub.or.th/datacenter/eco-article/eco-article-id014.asp Highway 1117] (Thai only)


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