Buriram Town and Province
One of the cities along Thailand's northeastern railway in Isan is Buriram, which is also the capital of the province with the same name. Although it has officially merely around 28,000 inhabitants it's a city of a considerable size which makes me doubting the small number. Apparently, Buriram had a considerable growth in urban size within the last years. Since my last visit here in early 2010 the city expanded widely and a lot of new buildings were constructed in the meantime.
City Pillar Shrine
Buriram's lak mueng, the city pillar shrine, clearly following the model of the Angkorean temple site of Phanom Rung. Placed inmiddle of the old city it's surrounded by a small park. In former times there was a much smaller shrine at the site; this one is an 'upgrade' from 2005, designed by the Thai Department of Fine Arts. Image by Asienreisender, 11/2015
While most of the province is plain, and the land is used for agriculture, the southernmost parts elevate to the Dangrek Mountains, who form the border to Cambodia. Interestingly, there are some extinct volcanos among the mountains. On top of one of them is Thailand's nicest Angkorean temple site placed, Phanom Rung. Around Phanom Rung is a number of more medieavel Khmer temples dotted.
Through the north of the province the two main rivers of Isan, the Mun and Chi, make their way eastwards towards the Mekong River.
Buriram City is a traffic hub in the region with not only the railway connection to Bangkok and Ubon Ratchathani, but also a bus terminal from where buses go to many other big cities in Thailand. Several highways cross the place; besides, there is an airport some 30km out of town.
Almost 100% of the province's population has Thai nationality, but it falls apart into groups with different ethnic roots like northern Khmer, Laotians, Suay, Siamese Thai, Thai Chinese and more. Estimated 50% of the people have Khmer roots. More than half of them use Khmer language in their all-day life. Also some Westerners live in Buriram town and more in certain places in the province.
The old city moat (2) is quite broad, much broader than in other places like neighbouring Surin. Parallel to the western section of the moat is Romburi Park. From early evening on there are often foodstalls, small shops and local artists performing small shows. One evening there was a marketing performance of Yamaha (1). The advertisement brainwash is overwhelming everywhere in Thailand.
The old Asia is history, only a few architectonical remains are left. In Thailand they are often formerly representative buildings who are restorated; here we see a common, aged wooden house of the first half of the 20th century (3). The new Asia looks rather so (4), but often it's merely naked concrete without a dot of paint on it. In fact, Buriram consists by more than 90% of naked concrete, the rest is smog, noise and traffic. It's all but a beautiful place.
Buriram's bus station lies in a poor and ugly neighbourhood. There is no restaurant around where one could sit in a relaxed atmosphere waiting for a bus. The few existing restaurants are mostly tiny, busy, shabby places.
All images and photocomposition by Asienreisender, 10/11/2015
The bulk of the economy makes the agriculture, mostly rice cultivation together with cassava, sugar cane, jute and silk production. Statistics is weak, but estimated more than 80% of the province's population over 15 years old works in farming.
Some food sellers enter an ordinary train at Buriram Railway Station. It's frequently to see that old women sell food in these trains to make a small income. It's chicken, meat balls, fruits, cakes, sticky rice, beverages and more. Image by Asienreisender, 10/2015
Education is another economic factor. There are two universities with large campuses and at least six colleges in town, together with 874 schools. In 2006 there were allegedly almost 300,000 pupils in the city, what is more than ten times more than the number of inhabitants. However, the province has 1.6 million inhabitants, and apparently a large number of people is coming to Buriram city at least temporarily for studying or working.
Curiously, Buriram city has a popular football club. Emblems of the club are to see everywhere in town. It won the national championchips four times, and there is a big football stadium, the so called I-Mobile Stadium (also called the 'thunder castle'), at the city's periphery.
There is also a circuit for racing in town. Buriram United International Circuit (BRIC) opened in end 2014 and is certificated to run formula one racings. It's sponsored by the Chang beer brewery (therefore also called 'Chang International Circuit').
In the last ten years a number of big shopping mall chains spread out more and more in Thailand. It started with Tesco Lotus and Makro, followed by Big C, Home Pro and some local shopping malls additionally. In the latest time Robinson Department Stores opened in more and more places, in Buriram just in August 2015.
The city of Buriram has a history which dates back at least into the Angkorean times, when the medieval Khmer ruled over the land. The province is inhabited since a much longer time (see also: History of Isan).