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:
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:
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!
There were pavilions sponsored by countries of the world, we especially like the Japanese Pavilion:
There's a prayer wheel in here:
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:
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!