Villagers in Wang Nua district of Lampang province have been supplementing their income by panning for gold for generations. It takes a lot of patience, but it seems to be worth it.
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Photos by Chumphon Sangvilert
Gold in Lampang
Standing in the knee-deep brook that branches out from the Wang River, Kallaya Yamdeelert shovelled wet sand into a wooden pan that looked like an upside-down Vietnamese hat. Submerged slightly below the surface, the pan was shaken left and right while Kallaya swept the sand away layer by layer.
"Gold is heavy, so it naturally works its way down to the bottom of the pan," she said while attempting to get rid of the unwanted mud, rocks and sand. Her wooden pan – known among locals as a wan – was almost empty, so her eager eyes were sweeping over it for something that glittered.
"It's impossible to tell whether we will go home with some gold or we will go home empty-handed. It all depends on luck," said the 40-year-old local of Wang Nua district of Lampang province.
But Kallaya was apparently lucky that day. What was left at the very bottom of her pan were tiny bits of gold – some smaller than 1mm in diameter. Pan after pan, by the end of the day, Kallaya had gold which, she said, was worth 200 to 300 baht – necessary income for not just herself, but also her family.
Gold panning is a process that requires great patience and stamina. You can stand in the water for hours trying to extract gold from sand and get nothing. But the locals consider gold panning their hobby – something they do when they are free from the rigours of farming or from their routine agricultural work.
How to do it: Shovel some sand into a wooden pan known among the locals as a wan, which costs about 700-1,000 baht.
Put the pan a bit under the water while sweeping off the sand, rocks and mud.
Keep doing this until there is very little sand left in the an. Gold is heavy so it naturally works its way to the bottom of the pan.
These small bits of gold can be sold for about 1,200 to 1,500 baht per gramme, depending on market price.
According to chief of the Wang Kaew tambon administration organisation, Panom Jenjad, gold panning is an activity that has been carried out by the locals for several generations. Tambon Wang Kaew in Wang Nua district is well known among not just people in the neighbourhood, but also those from other provinces as a gold-panning site.
"Geographically speaking, tambon Wang Kaew is located at the border of Lampang province, adjacent to the Wang River," explained Panom. "The area is also [situated near] the Phi Pan Nam mountain range, which extends across Chiang Rai, Phayao and Lampang. Earth crust displacement in the old times brought about the influx of underground gold that mainly originated from the Phi Pan Nam range. When underground rainwater from the mountain flows down and branches out into brooks, gold comes with it."
Interested? Before you rush to Wang Nua district, read the full story. There are restrictions. http://www.bangkokpost.com/lifestyle/interview/357700/after-the-rush
knee – the joint between the top and bottom parts of the leg where it bends in the middle หัวเข่า
brook – a small river ลำห้วย, ห้วย, ลำธาร
branch – (of a road or river) to be joined to another road or river but lead in a different direction แตกแขนง, แตกกิ่ง
shovel – to lift and move earth, stones, coal, etc. with a shovel ขุดด้วยเสียมหรือพลั่ว, ตักด้วยพลั่ว, แซะด้วยพลั่ว
upside-down – in or into a position in which the top of something is where the bottom is normally found and the bottom is where the top is normally found พลิกเอาด้านบนลงล่าง, กลับหัวกลับหาง
submerge – to cause to be under water ทำให้จมน้ำ ทำให้อยู่ใต้น้ำ
sweep – to remove something from a surface using a brush, your hand, etc ปัด, ปัดกวาด
locals – people who live in a particular place ชาวบ้าน
glitter – to shine with a lot of small bright flashes of light พร่างพราย
apparently – based only on what you have heard or think, not on what you are certain is true; seemingly ตามที่ได้รู้มา
diameter – the length of a straight line that reaches from one point on the edge of a round shape or object, through its center, to a point on the opposite edge เส้นผ่าศูนย์กลาง
income – money that someone gets from working or from investing money รายได้
process – a series of actions that you take in order to achieve a result แนวทางปฏิบัติ, กระบวน, วิธีการ
patience – the ability to wait for a long time without becoming angry or upset ความอดทน
stamina – the physical or mental strength that enables you to do something difficult for long periods of time ความทรหด,ความแข็งแรง,ความแข็งแกร่ง
extract – to remove a substance from another substance สกัด
rigours – the difficulties and unpleasant conditions of something ความกวดขัน, ความรุนแรง,ความเข้มงวด
routine – the normal order and way in which you regularly do things กิจวัตรประจำ
agriculture – the science or practice of farming เกษตรกรรม, การเกษตร
generation – a group of people in society who are born and live around the same time รุ่น (คนรุ่นต่างๆ)
neighbourhood – a particular area of a city or town ละแวก, ย่าน
site – a place where something is located สถานที่
geographic – related to maps, borders, etc. เกี่ยวกับภูมิศาสตร์
located – where something is ตั้งอยู่
border – the official line separating two areas, regions or countries เขตแดน อาณาเขต
adjacent – very near, next to, or touching ติดกัน
situated – located ตั้งอยู่ที่
range – a line or group of mountains or hills ทิวเขา, แนวเขา, เทือกเขา
crust – a hard layer or surface, especially above or around something soft or liquid เปลือก, เปลือกโลก
displacement – the process of moving something from its usual position การย้ายที่,การเคลื่อนหลุด
influx – a large number of people or things coming in to a place การหลั่งไหล การไหลบ่า (เข้าไปยังที่ใดที่หนึ่ง)
originate – to come from a particular place, time, situation, etc มาจาก, ริเริ่มจาก
restriction – a rule, action or situation that limits or controls someone or something การจำกัด, การควบคุม
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