Hat Kruat to Tak

Bo Lek Nam Phi Knife and Sword Making Village

Our first destination this morning was the OTOP Baan Bo Lek Nam Phi. Knives, swords, buddha figures, and many other items are all created on site by local blacksmiths. In Bo Lek Nam Phi the role of miner, bloomery operator, blacksmith, swordsmith, cutler, and bladesmith is most often the same person.

The ancient process from mining to crushing, from smelting to smithing, from designing to shaping, and from tempering to finishing is succinctly described here.

An artisanal blacksmith whose forge was at the side of the road gave us a tour of his operation and acknowledged that the buckets of iron ore he showed us were sourced from ‘elsewhere’ without advising the location.

The claims by Bo Lek Nam Phi’s purveyors of the finished products, and the artisans who make them, that the iron ore is sourced in the immediate vicinity is the subject of some obfuscation. “If you want to see the iron ore being ‘mined’ you need to join a tour – but not today”.

The numerous websites/social media pages that refer to BLNP do not definitively state from where the iron ore is sourced. From lack of research, a don’t care attitude, or believing the BS being fed by the tourist operation village it is unclear why this is the case.

Claims that the iron ore comes from two, twenty metre diameter holes about five metres deep that have been undisturbed for years (the historical ‘wells’) are patently ridiculous. Yet the shopkeepers will tell you that is where the ore comes from.

Additionally, some knives were on sale at various shops with the name of the village engraved on the blade – but clearly, absolutely there is no way they were made in Bo Lek Nam Phi. Price alone indicated that.

I left this unique village with a feeling of disquiet, a certainty that something was not quite right.

On my next visit to the village I found from where the iron ore was sourced.

However, even after the source of a iron ore ‘mine’ was established more questions than answers remained.

The focus of our Road Trip then changed dramatically as we moved deeper into the ancient Lanna lands.

Si Satchanalai Historical Park

Si Satchanalai Historical Park covers such a large area (4500 ha – 11,150 acres or 18,000,000 m2), one could easily spend two or three days here to thoroughly see all on offer – and be really ‘templed out’. Apart from the very real possibility of being jaded by too many ancient ruins, after the first dozen or so, even the most magnificent chedis fail to stand out. Quality structures blend together that, separately, would be quite distinct.

More photographs and information

Leaving the panoply of temples we headed south to Tak, the capital of the eponymously named province.

Having been in Tak previously we forewent a tour of the city and sought out accommodation for the night.

The Suansin Lanna Hotel was busy – very busy. At ฿500 per night it was great value – obviously the reason for it being so popular. We have stayed at places double the tariff or more that were not as well appointed and without the same suite of facilities as Suansin Lanna Hotel.

The Ping River flows through Tak and from where it meets the Nan River the combined watercourse is termed the Chao Phraya – Thailand’s principal waterway.

The day’s journey covered 254 kilometres through three Provinces (Uttaradit, Sukhothai, and Tak).


Go to Tak to Mae Sariang

Go back to Khon Kaen to Hat Kruat

Go to Northern Thailand Overview


© Kim Epton 2024
667 words, 11 photographs.

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