Chasing a field of sunflowers: Lopburi, Thailand
One of my great loves is sunflowers. Something about them, their beautiful bright yellow, their great big openness, how seriously large they can grow, and how their main function is to find and face the sun just makes me happy every time I see them. There is a Malay word that describes this well, ceria, or cheerful. And every time I see them, or see a bouquet of them, it cheers me up as well.
So imagine how I felt being in the middle of a whole field!!! Of them!
A few years ago, my friend A from Thailand found out about my love of sunflowers. And the sad story of how I had excitedly taken a train ride to the South of Spain and was horrified that the only sunflower field I say had dying sunflowers (traumatic!). So he recommended I head over to Lopburi, Thailand to check out the fields there. My best friend N was living in Bangkok at the time, and together we planned a journey outwards.
Lopburi is located about 150 km outside of Bangkok. You can take a bus from Mochit station in Bangkok to Lopburi town, and then a provincial bus to Khao Nai. Ask the driver or your passengers to tell you when you reach Khao Chin Lae. Alternatively, you could do what we did and rent a driver for a day. We got a special deal since the driver was a family friend of someone in N’s office; but I doubt it would cost you more than USD200 for the whole day.
It takes about 2.5 to 3 hours to get there. It’s a comfortable enough drive and you can tell you’re reaching the sunflower fields when you start seeing giant sunflower signs, and you see the Khao Chin Lae mountain in the background. There are quite a few fields sprawled out, so don’t worry if you miss the first one. The reason why there are so many fields here is that the local economy develops them for sunflower seed oil, as well as sunflower seed for snacks.
There are plentiful of car parks for each field, as the locals have realized not only can they get income from the oil and the seeds, they can also bring in large tourism money as well. So each sunflower farm has been developed more like a park. You can walk in for free, and roam around the fields (no plucking!). Though I was there in 2009, and I’ve heard that some places may now charge you a small fee of 5-10 Baht to enter. At the main entrance though, you will see a row of shop stalls selling small souvenirs, snacks and maybe even coffee! This is where they get the additional income as well. Or of course there are some far more entrepreneurial folks who also bring an elephant into the area to walk around the field. After all, what is Thailand without an elephant or two?
As for us, we spent the bulk of the day just walking through the fields, taking pictures, having coffee and then moving on to the next field and the next. If you want a bit of a change, you can also head out to Pasak dam afterwards and hang out with the locals chilling out by the water there. Bring along a picnic and some bread to feed the fish. Be warned though, that Pasak dam can get very very crowded, and may not be as enjoyable as you would like.
The fields on the other hand though, were simply heavenly.
Check out Lopburi, Thailand between the months of November to January to see the sunflowers in bloom. Apparently there is also the Sunflower Blossom Festival which happens between 3-10 December every year. Though I have to be honest, I have yet to be able to find anything that can explain what and when the festival is and scarily enough it seem like there is no real set date. If you’ve gone, or plan on going this year, drop a note and let me know how it goes!