Monday, February 14, 2011

Finding a Muban

A reader asked me for help to find the location of one specific village, of which he only knew the name and the district. While Google Maps shows village names in some areas of Thailand, in this case it was of no help, only the Tambon center was named. One possible way would be find a good paper of the area, but from my experience all the maps found in bookstores are much inferior in mapping quality to those I am used in Europe. The official ones from the Royal Survey Department are not so easy to get.

However, I guess I could solve the problem just with the help of some Google searching, though not as directly as it could be. The first step was to find the Tambon, which is especially important in this case, as Kantharalak district in Sisaket province has a total of 20 Tambon and 274 administrative villages. Google found the website Sisaket Database, which has pages for each district, and on each of those a complete list of the villages. So for Kantharalak that page - which also has a much more detailed district history than - gave me that Ban Ta Choi (บ้านตาจ้อย) is Mu 13 of Kut Salo subdistrict.

The TAO of Kut Salo has a relatively good website, but the only information it has on the villages is a table with the village headmen, but no map, not even a sketch map. The next try was the Excel sheet from DOPA, where the local authorities were supposed to fill in the coordinates for each Muban. But for this Muban, the sheet shows the UTM coordinates 836421 1859984 - but these are totally bogus and I wasn't able to convert them into anything near the Tambon.

Normally I would be stuck now, since this sheets are my only more-or-less complete list of coordinates. But by luck Google found another source - the Department of Groundwater Resources has a list of 20 wells in Kut Salo, and the details for the one in Ban Ta Choi has the UTM coordinates 48P 0482109 1618585. This transforms to 14.6435°N 104.8299°E, in the southeastern part of the subdistrict. The final confirmation is the screenshot from PointAsia which is linked from the well detail page, which shows the village 500 m southeast of the well coordinates labeled as Ban Ta Choi. And only later my reader remembered that photo he took with the village name, which would have saved me the first steps as village number and Tambon are on that sign as well.

But please do not send me tons of similar requests now, it was fun to do it once, but doing it daily won't be for sure. This only shows how much those Excel sheets were needed, if only they contain correct coordinates and are easier accessible.

1 comment:

Doug said...

Great investigative work!