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Phayao (พะเยา)

Thai. Name of a Thai province (map) and its capital city, situated in Northern Thailand at 691 kms North of Bangkok and near Kwahn Phayao (กว๊านพะเยา), a huge freshwater lake (map - fig.) from which small shrimps are caught to be used in the local specialty kung ten (fig.), a dish of live shrimps mixed with several spices. Phayao is an ancient city from the former Lan Na Kingdom, founded around the time of King Ngam Meuang, whose statue (fig.) is erected in a garden alongside the city's lake (map - fig.). Later, Phayao was made an amphur of Chiang Rai province, but on 28 August 1977, its status was elevated to that of a province in its own right, at that time becoming the nation's 72nd jangwat. Today it has seven amphur and two king amphur. Originally, the city and area were named Phu Kaam Yao (ภูกามยาว), meaning sensual (or erotically) stretched mountain, a name that refers to a long, stretched out mountain, located opposite of the town's vast lake and of which the ridge has an outline reminiscent of that of a reclining woman (map - fig.). Phu Kaam Yao was also referred to by the shorter name Pha Yao (พยาว), most likely for easier pronunciation, which over time evolved into Phayao (พะเยา), the same word with a different spelling, still in use today. See also Phayao data file.