Royal Flora Exposition

IMG_3286 On Friday afternoon our guide Arm picked us up at the hotel for lunch about 1:00.  I had requested that we go to a restaurant, Aroon Rai, that Tawn and I had tried before.  It is one of those open-air places and is located across the moat from the eastern side of the old city wall.  Their specialties are local Northern Thai dishes including a pork curry and khao soi, a curried rice noodle soup. 

The food was all tasty stuff and I think our guide was surprised, first that I had requested this restaurant and second that we all enjoyed the food.

DSCF3856 Afterwards we went off to the Royal Flora Exposition, held in Chiang Mai for three months to celebrate the 60th anniversary of His Majesty the King’s accession to the throne. 

If I understand correctly there is a flora exposition in Chiang Mai every year but for this year’s event it is significantly larger in scale than usual.

There are three main areas to the expo: a selection of gardens from thirty-three participating countries, representing their own style and cultures; a selection of corporate gardens, IMG_3307 mostly focusing on different aspects of the King’s works for the people; and a central royal pavilion which was constructed of teak in a traditional Lanna style.  The Lanna kingdom was the predecessor to the Kingdom of Siam in the northern parts of modern-day Thailand and Laos.  Right: The main walkway leading to the Royal Pavillion. 

Among the other features was a large orchid hall showing rare orchids, a walk-through garden of thousands of more common orchids, and displays of orchids that were in competition. 

While most of the exposition is in the open we enjoyed really pleasant weather with temperatures that weren’t too hot, thanks to a pretty cloudy afternoon that kept the sun off our shoulders.  Recommendations to visitors: if you’re in Thailand before the end of January, this is worth a trip but plan on going in the afternoon as it is generally a little less crowded and a bit more comfortable.

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Top: The Royal Pavilion as viewed from the west, near the Rubber Plantation; Left: Posing with my mother in front of the pavilion; Right: A Muslim woman poses for a photograph in the pavilion’s interior, which painted with murals from His Majesty’s life.  Bottom: Sandy with one of the demon statues outside the Royal Pavilion.

Here are some of the things we saw – click on pictures for a larger image:

DSCF3862 A “wishing tree” with bronze leaves fluttering in the breeze – make a wish, say a prayer, and ring the bell.  A group of monks – notice that their robes are darker than the Theravada Buddhist monks’ robes you usually see in Thailand – pose for pictures.

 

 

 

DSCF3890 A beautiful sculpture in the garden from Turkey including the following quote:

“Whatever you think of war, I am far, far from it.  Whatever you think of love, I am that, only that, all that.” (Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, Mystic Poet 1207-1273 CE)

 

 

DSCF3937-1 A competition entry in the Orchid Pavilion, featuring a Northern Thai-style lantern.

 

 

 

 

DSCF3888 I’m posing in the Japanese garden, which appears tranquil thanks to the cropping out of three dozen yellow-shirted Thais who were clamoring for their own photos just for my right.

 

 

 

 

DSCF3939-1 Another competition entry in the Orchid Pavilion, this one featuring garden gnomes that have a distinctly monk-like appearance.

 

 

DSCF3943-1 Keeping the monk theme going, the same monks from the wishing tree now appear in front of an Orchid competition entry.

 

 

 

DSCF3960 Keeping the “people with short hair” theme going, I post in front of yet another Orchid competition entry.

 

 

 

 

IMG_3314 Dick and my father looking at some of the orchids.

 

 

 

 

And this is how we felt after looking at all those flowers.  No one to carry us, though!

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In the evening there was a light and sound show around the Royal Pavilion.  Unfortunately we were seated quite far back in a main plaza area and even with video screens we were unable to see most of the details, nor understand them as they were all in Thai and echoey.

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Next entry: Our trip to Doi Suthep and the Night Safari… stay tuned.

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