Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Royal Flora Exposition Saturday 1/29/2012

We had a lazy start to our Saturday, we strolled around our neighborhood, relaxed at the Terrace Bar, and even had a little nap!  For some reason, when we are traveling I feel a bit guilty if I'm not on the go every minute!  But after the pace we've kept the past 10 days, it felt great to relax.

Our destination for today: The Royal Flora International Horticultural Exposition.  On the advice of our nice front desk lady, we waited until afternoon to go, as it would be cooler than mid day, and we'd also get to see all the pretty lights after dark.  It was very good advice!

This expo is held every 4 years, and is set in the beautiful 98 acre Royal Rajapruek Park just outside Chiang Mai.  This year's event honors several Thai royal birthdays: the Kings 84th, the Queens 80th, and the Crown Prince's 60th.  The expo theme this year is "Greenitude, Reducing Global Warming to Save Planet Earth and Enhance the Quality of Life".  Quite ambitious!

Horticultural experts from all over the world come to this expo to take part in many seminars and summits on such subjects as rubber trees, the production of silk, orchids, tropical fruit, and to take part in contests involving 51 types of flowers and vegetables.  It's a big deal in the horticultural world!

We hired a songthaew right in front our our hotel, and about 20 minutes later arrived at the park.

Sculpted trees and manicured lawns line a wide avenue leading up to the park entrance:

Living sculptures of this year's mascots:

Wow!  There were far more people than I'd expected.  Thousands and thousands of people! There were many tour groups, this one sporting matching red hats.  They were very excited:

 Thankfully, the line for tickets wasn't too long, and soon we were in the park.  Here are a few pictures of the area around the entrance:

Our first stop was the orchid exhibit, where we spent almost an hour admiring the hundreds of species of orchids.  Oh my--I'm in orchid heaven!

There were orchids and waterfalls:

Orchids in pots:

Orchids growing up the side of a wall:
Hanging orchids growing in thin air:

Orchids growing on poles:

And tables and tables of cut orchids:

Here are a few close ups of some of my favorites:

David was extremely patient with me, as I snapped picture after picture of these beauties:

After the orchid exhibit we strolled through the grounds, admiring the beautiful landscaping.  It's groomed to perfection, I don't think there's a leaf or single blade of grass out of place!

This is one of my favorite views, these young monks smiled and posed when they saw me snapping away:

There were pavilions sponsored by countries of the world, we especially like the Japanese Pavilion:

There's a prayer wheel in here:

 And both the entrance and exit doors had knockers!

We found an interesting food and gift area, featuring locally grown food items.  We sampled some delicious black rice, and bought a package to bring home.  It was about snack time, we decided to be brave and sample something new.  We chose something wrapped in banana leaves and steamed (we had absolutely no idea what was inside!) and also a cup of those beautiful strawberries we've been seeing in the markets.  The banana leaf wrapped item was a nice surprise!  Here's David unwrapping it:

It's BLUE!!

Inside we found some blue doughy stuff wrapped around a filling of sweet bean paste.  It was quite good!

The strawberries were also a surprise--they were covered in a salty, syrupy mixture!  But they were delicious,  and we ate every one!

After our adventurous little snack, we poked around the little shopping area.  I found a little woven coin purse to hold all these baht coins I've been carrying around, it cost a whole dollar!  Here are some pictures of that pretty area:

There were some ladies giving massages, how about this for a massage?  I'm not so sure I'd feel better after this treatment:

Now it was time to climb those steps to the Royal Pavilion.

The outside entrance:

I'm not sure if this pavilion is a prayer hall or a temple, but we were asked to remove our shoes before entering, so it's obviously a sacred place. The inside is pretty, but different in that there is no Buddha or monk at the alter area.  This is what we found instead:

The pillars, walls and ceiling are all painted in intricate patterns:

Next we came to the Lotus Pond area, complete with funny "people":

Here we are, being silly!  Hey Matt--notice Dad's t-shirt!

Next up:  A weird but interesting exhibit of gourds.  A very loooong (David says it was more than a football field in length!), snaking tunnel with many kinds of gourds, squash and cucumber like plants covering it!  Strange, I know--but this is a horticultural show, after all!

 The tunnel was lighted with multi-colored lights:

By now it was getting dark, and our feet needed a rest.  We found an area overlooking a small lake where several people were gathered.  From what little we could understand, there was to be a light show in a few minutes.  We waited for almost half an hour, but with one delay after another we gave up.  Just as we were leaving it began, starting with Thailand's national anthem.  Everyone, and I mean EVERY single person, stops and listens respectfully, and bows when it's finished.   We watched for just a minute or two, but it didn't really catch our fancy, we we continued on.

We did get to see a wonderful light show though!  On our way out of the park, we were right in the middle of the amazing flower light and music show.  It was really great fun, the lights and flowers twinkled and swayed in time to the music:

Here's a video that David shot:

It was a magical ending to our visit to the Royal Flora Expo!

We caught the next available songthaew back to our hotel, did a quick drop off of some packages, and headed right back out to the street. 

 It was way past our dinner time, and we were a couple of starvin' marvins!  There was a "walking market" a few blocks from our hotel, and we decided that tonight was the night we were going to eat some street food! Note: a "walking market" is where the street is closed to traffic, and vendors set up right in the street.  There are several walking markets around Chiang Mai

 We cruised around and looked at several food vendors, our first choice was a steamed bun with BBQ pork filling--it was deeee-licious! About 75 cents each--a bargain!

 Next course:  Some pork satay--cooked on the grill right in front of us, and pretty tasty.  4 sticks  for less than $1:

We came to an area with many tables set up, right next to the old moat.  It was a wonderful, chaotic scene.   Dining under the stars, Thai style:

After some careful consideration, we chose a vendor serving up made to order stir fry.  Here she is, stir-frying away:
I think this little operation was a family affair, her nice son took our order, and directed us to a numbered table.  We sat on some short metal stools, relaxing and taking in the fun scene while we waited just a short time for our food.  

David's pad Thai with chicken--it was really good:
 And my pork with holy basil, served over rice.  It was yummy, mmmmmm good:

Each of these delicious dishes were less than $1.00.  Our total cost for dinner and all that fun: Less than $4.50!

We slowly walked the few short blocks to our hotel, enjoying the lovely warm evening air. 

 Goodnight  Mr. Moon!  

What a pretty sight, and a fitting ending to yet another perfect day in Thailand. 

Sunday in Chiang Mai:  A trip up the mountain to Doi Suthep


  1. Amazing day! The orchids were truly beautiful as were all of the pictures from the exposition. Glad to hear that you braved some of the street food and it sounds like your choices were very tasty. I think Dan is almost ready to book a trip to Thailand as it is a location he has wanted to see for some time---now thanks to your blog, I am very interested in making a trip to Thailand as well.

    Keep having fun and also sharing your adventure with us. Love you both

    1. This was a PERFECT, food, flora, fun, feet, funny people, football fields, families, fruit 1/2 full moon for just a few.....GORGEOUS Pictures---when are we doing your scrapbook?
      Is that a tatted valance before the massage picture? I am really liking Thailand-so glad you are sharing this with us.

  2. Words can't express this post. Perfect, beautiful pictures of flowers, gourds, lights, orchids, food...funny people too! I love the pictures when your in them Di and David. I had to laugh...another picture of David standing by a statue that looked like him...and I don't mean the lady statue! Street food looked good...Thailand is wonderful and the people are so nice! What an amazing adventure your having...Rest up...tomorrow is yet another day! Love Brenda

  3. All I can say is WOW! You are truly blessed to be able to have this experience. Even the bridges are work-of-arts. What a wonderful garden. And the people seems so friendly and gracious. We have much to learn from other cultures. I miss you.