City of 11 gates | Bangkok Post: travel

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City of 11 gates

Despite its many natural and cultural attractions, the charms of the landlocked province of Roi Et are known to only a few adventurous types who have dared to venture off the well-beaten tourist trail

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Situated right in the middle of Isan, the country's northeastern region, 512km from Bangkok by road, Roi Et has been a major settlement for more than 300 years. It was once called Saket Nakhon and referred to as "a large city with 11 gates and 11 vassal cities", but in modern-day terms it would be more accurately described as a medium-sized market town. 

The province itself is fairly substantial, though, covering an area of 8,299 square kilometres, and being situated on the Korat Basin has an average height above sea level of 130m to 160m. The more low-lying areas, part of the Thung Kula Ronghai rice-growing belt that stretches across five provinces in the Northeast, are irrigated by the Chi River and smaller waterways called the Sieu Yai and the Phlap Phla.

The culture, traditions and present-day population of Roi Et are the products of thousands of years of history, of one civilisation absorbing or being assimilated by another, of one society dominating or being influenced by another, from prehistoric times to the Mon-speaking, Shiva-worshipping Dvaravati period to the hegemony of the ancient Khmer Empire, the rise of the Lao kingdom of Lan Chang (aka Lan Xang), which paid tribute to Siamese kings, and the more recent evolution of a distinctive Isan identity.

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