Although Thailand has never been colonized by any empire, the province of Trat celebrates their independence from the French colonizers after the diplomatic settlement headed by King Rama VI.
It is believed that the name “Trat” came from the word “Krat”, an abundant tree in the province used to create brooms. During the reign of King Naresuan in the Ayuttahaya period it was called ‘Bann Bang Pra’. The province is also known for its beautiful and finest gemstones like sapphires and rubies.
The Trat province was occupied by the French conquerors in 1868 during the rule of King Chulalongkorn or King Rama V. But in 1906, he had a treaty with the French government which gives Trat and Patchantakiri (Koh Chong) to them in exchange of their soldiers retreat in the nearby Chantaburi province.
However, in March 23, 1906, King Rama granted the areas and islands of Pratabong, Sri Sophon and Siamrat (which are located to the right bank of the Mekong River and now Cambodian territories) to the French forces in exchange of Trat. The exchange ceremony is held at the Provincial Hall and was headed by representatives from the two countries.
Because of this, the Trat Independence Day is celebrated annually to commemorate the freedom of the province from the colonizers. It is also called as “Wan Trat Ramruk” or “Trat’s Day of Remembrance”. The locals even built a monument for King Rama V in the City Hall to remember his efforts to keep Trat with Thailand.
However, tensions between the Thais and French still continued until 1941 when a French ship invaded Thai territories but was successfully blocked by their Navy. The two forces clashed, later known as the “Battle at Koh Chang Island”. Although three Thai warships were lost, the bravery of the Thai Royal Navy is still remembered until today through its annual commemoration every January 17.
Trat Independence Day is celebrated every March 23 to 27. Every year, historical plays and exhibits are performed which features the colorful history of the Trat Province. There is also an annual King Rama V Commemorative Parade that is boasted in the trade fair. Some competitions, like the indigenous Lang Aan Siam Dog Contest, are also held in the 5-day festival.
Local and agricultural products are also exhibited in the fair, particularly crops which are very native to Trat. There are also cultural performances and entertainments to watch. It is best to visit Koh Chang, the province’s most famous island, because of it parks dedicated to Trat and Thai’s history.