Surprise!! I haven’t forgot about my trip back home last year! LOL

Dictionary:
Ratcha (or Racha) = King
Phruek = Flower
Ratchaphruek = Flower of the King ^^

Background:
The Royal Flora Ratchaphruek was a flower festival held November 1, 2006, to January 31, 2007, in the Thai city of Chiang Mai that drew 3,781,624 visitors. It was one of the grand celebrations being hosted by the Royal Thai Government in honor of King Bhumibol, the world’s longest reigning monarch.

The Ratchaphruek or Golden Shower Tree is the national flower of Thailand. It is also named “Khoon” or “Chaiyaphruek”. The reason that the Ratchaphruek is used to symbolize the nation lies in color: its yellow blossoms match the yellow of Buddhism; furthermore, the Thai people regard yellow as the color of the King as well. Moreover, all golden shower trees bloom at the same time; this unity in flowering is felt to reflect the unity and identity of Thais.

(The official site is dead, so I snatched the info from wikipedia LOL)

Warning: long post with 60 photos behind cut, I’ve put them in a large thumbnail size, but it’d probably still take quite a while to load, so proceed with caution and enjoy the flowers~


 

Chiang Mai, Thailand
November 2-4, 2006

I’ve heard about this flower expo before I went back to Thailand but didn’t really plan to visit Chiang Mai (for the 3rd time in 3 consecutive years) in the first place since I knew that all hotels are fully booked 3-4 months prior to this exhibition. Anyhow, after talking to my friend who’s currently a professor at Chiang Mai University, she basically told me to get on the plane, and I did LOL

I arrived at Chiang Mai late in the afternoon, so my friend just picked me up from the airport and drove straight to the shuttle bus stop. It took us almost an hour to finally enter the festival area. The place was HUGE, crowded, and divided into far too many zones for us to explore. When we got there, it’s very very late afternoon, and the sun was about to say bye-bye for the day -___- We looked at the map, circled some highlights, and started walking! (well, there’s a tram, bus, and other kinds of transit provided within the facility, but we decided to walk as it’s easier for us to go and change directions along the way ^^)

The main entrance and guest service center area were decorated with tons of flowers (of course, it’s a flower expo, duh!! LOL). Some decorations reminded me of Halloween (with giant pumpkins). From there, we walked to the right to visit some Corporate Gardens (aka, they paid a huge amount of $$ to be here as event sponsors LOL) That golden sculpture was from Boonrawd Garden, the proud owner/brewer/seller/etc-er of Singha, original Thai beer ^^

It’s getting darker quite fast, so we decided to walk around for a little bit, before going to Ratchaphruek Lake to watch the Water Show, “Mother’s Son – Father of the Kingdom” — a story of our King’s life.The show was pretty, but unfortunately, my poor camera couldn’t capture anything *pouts*

After that, we went to see the so called “Splendid Electric Parade“, I couldn’t even hold my camera still, darn splendid LOLok, let’s say, think about a Disney’s Parade, then take out all neat gadgets, electronics, lights, costumes, and everything LOL we almost died laughing when we saw the first car came out xD Very urban style *giggles*

The highlight of this entire festival is the “Royal Pavilion” (Hor Kham Luang), the artistic design of the Lanna architecture.The ground floor displays His Majesty the King’s initiatives and activities focusing on the agricultural projects.The upper floor displays the decorative works created by the renowned artists.Bhodi Tree for the King (bottom left) was one of the way for the visitors to pay homage to His Majesty the King of Thailand, by donating 99 baht (approx $3) for one Bhodi leave made of brass. Then after this exposition, all leaves will be molded into the Buddha statue and presented to HMK.

The expo area closed at 8pm, so we walked back to the shuttle bus stop, tried to buy the festival mascot dolls, but couldn’t fight the crowd. So we gave up and decided to come back the next day instead. ^^One thing we realized that day, we’re getting old! LOL only a few hours of walking, and we’re almost dead when we got back to my friend’s room!! xDD

 

Next morning, we went back to the Corporate Zone to take some pictures, some of the gardens were really beautifully arranged.

 

These corns reminds me of one particular anime, any guess/thoughts?? *runs* xD

 

Next, we moved on to Orchid Pavilion. OMG! So pretty! There are all kinds of orchids, including new breeds, rare and novelty species, plus the most valuable varieties from all over the world. There’s both exhibition and competition going on throughout the 92 days of this exposition.This extensive orchid park will become the most comprehensive and largest integrated permanent orchid study center in Thailand

My favorite, chocolate orchid!! It really does smell like Hershey chocolate! xDD

My lovely tour guide (aka: walking partner xDD) and I. Nope, no one took this pix for us. My camera was sitting on top of a garbage can! You can actually see a tiny bit of the can on the lower left corner of this pix LOL

Resting every so often, we’ve reached the point of no return LOL I was too tired and exhausted to even bring out my camera!! The weather was sooooooooooooooo HOT! *is dehydrated* Royal Agricultural Project was very interesting though. There’s a lot of neat ideas and projects to help Thai farmers improve their products. There’s even a tiny strawberry, which is incredible considering how hot it is in Thailand~ xDWe walked around International Garden area. Japan won the 1st prize for the opening week with Japanese style garden settings (and a huge Sony flat screen TV showing a story of Mt. Fuji *grumbles*)

Before going to the expo, I told my friend that I want to visit Netherlands garden most because I wanted to see tulips. She whacked me on my head, and reminded me that I just went to a tulip festival in Washington back in April 2006, which was quite true, huh? LOL Anyway, here’s the Netherlands’ spot. They needed that big white shade thing for these tiny tulips during the day! XDDD and by Day#12 of this festival, they had to changed from tulips to some other flowers, since all tulips were dead from the heat ^^”sidenotes: my camera T___T I’m not sure who dropped it between my friend and I, as she was handing it back to me, and I was reaching out for it, we both touched it at the same time, but the next thing we knew, it’s on the ground with a big *thuds* and the battery just flew right out of it’s socket T___T

Aha! Time for the highlight!! We’re back at the Royal Pavilion again ^___^The main and most attractive feature of Hor Kham Luang is the Borombothisomparn (The Bodhi Tree for the King) which is constructed in clusters of lotus blossoms. Nine blossoms per cluster, the clusters arranged in turn, in bundles of nine clusters each. Bodhi leaves of copper, silver and gold were attached to the tree, and by the time this exposition ends, there will be a total of 21,915 leaves — the number of days of His Majesty the King has been on the throne. Each Bodhi leaf was crafted on of the Ten Royal Virtues — guidelines based on the teachings of the Lord Buddha that have been observed by Thai kings for generations. These virtues are meant to bring about good and just government, and include integrity, sacrifice, compassion and kindness — which His Majesty has exhibited in ruling His subjects for the whole of His 60 years on the throne.

Four bundles at the lowest level of copper-colored, signifying the early period of His Majesty’s reign; the period when he first began to develop and implement his ideas of advancing the Thai way of life and of improving the quality of the forests, the soil and the water.Four bundles at the middle level, in gold, representing the progress of the royal projects that benefited the Thai people, especially in the agricultural sector.

A single bundle on the top of the tree, in white silver, the color of platinum, the purest and the most precious element on earth, symbolizing the present era of His Majesty the King, his virtue, brilliance and intelligence, and his 60 years of fostering the most prosperous growth in the Thai nation’s history.

On all walls were drawings of His Majesty’s activities throughout these years.

There are a lot of great artists involved in this project. The lower level of the Royal Pavilion displayed all sorts of arts and crafts related to His Majesty the King.It’s really touching for us Thai people. ^^Even though we’re tired beyond repair, we signed up for a walking tour which would take us to 9 main Thai Tropical gardens from rubber tree to palm to biotech to herb garden to the oldest palm on earth and so on….. ^^’ *keeps walking*

One of my most favorite, which happened to be in an AC room XDD “Patumma” or Siam Tulip, aren’t they pretty? I’ve been wanting to see these flowers in YEARS! but never had a chance to as they always bloom in July and I’d never gone back home during that time, so seeing them here was like, kyaaaa!! LOL silly notes: Before adopting the name ‘Patumma’, this Siam Tulip was called ‘Dok Kra Jiaw’. The last two words, if pronounced with higher tone mark, would be a slang for penis xDD krajiew~~ Anyhow, my friends and I always said something like, hey, lets go see Toong Kra Jiaw~~ (Toong = field) and we never said it with the correct tone mark, all intentionally, so it’s like we want to go see a penis field, which is pretty Ewww~, come to think of it LOL

And from the comfy cold of Siam Tulip room, we jumped right into the Desert Plant Greenhouse *faints* HOT HOT HOT!! Can’t breathe!!! LOL, our guild recommended us not to stay in this room for longer than 15 minutes. Oh man, I almost ran off after I first stepped inside the room!! xDBut I have to admit, these cactus are cute, umm well, except for the Asami one of course!! *runs*

    are those pinky carots on top of this thing? lol

*phews* what a relief! Running away from the super hot zone to the temperate greenhouse ^^ Lots of cold weather flowers here!The funniest thing was there were 3 policemen sitting in this room like they’d never leave this place LOL, so much of a security huh? My friend and I jokingly said that they’re here to protect those precious long stem roses xD

Okay, on to the OLDEST plant on earth, Wollemia Nobilis, a rare species of conifer, dating back 250 million years to the era of the dinosours. First discovered in China 6-7 years ago in a fossil. I think Australia loaned this one to us.

I really enjoyed this walking tour as our guides (one expert and 6-7 volunteer students) told us a lot of stories. They’re really nice and friendly too. Plus I did learn a lot during this 3 hours walk.One of the thing I learned is there are two types of lotus! BuaLuang and BuaSai. Well, actually know about these 2 types, but I’d never known how to tell which is which ^^”

(Bua = Lotus)

And to my surprise, they are so easy to tell!! By looking at its leaf~If the lotus leaf is above the water, that lotus is BuaLuang. If the leaf is at the water level, it’s BuaSai. Pretty simple, huh? xD

So here goes, the above pic is BuaSai, and the one on the left is BuaLuang ^___^

The tour basically ended at the Lotus garden, but our tour guides loved us so much (because we’re the only two who asked questions =__=, the rest of the tour group just walked and walked and some just walked away -__-“), so they decided to walk us around a little bit more *feet are crying* LOL Too bad, we walked passed the “Flower Carpet” as they wanted us to see the best spot to view the Royal Pavilion.We also stopped at the Thai Village and Cultural Bazaar for a little bit to see traditional lifestyle from four regional parts of Thailand. There were also shows and demonstrations of urban things like making Thai sweets, herbal tea, etc. ^^

Climbing up a long flight of stairs, we finally reach the spot they wanted us to see. Ahhhh! It really was the BEST spot!! I can see the pavilion without any obstruction *squeeeee* I love it so much!! I can see the overview of this expo from this point.Also from here, if we looked down to the east side, we could see a lot of trees planted on several squares. At first I didn’t know what they are, so I just thought that it’s probably some sort of decorations. But I was so wrong! Each square represented each province of Thailand, and each tree was the official province flower!! And they laid out in a map of Thailand shape! sugoiiiii!! xD

Our guides said goodbye to us as they had to report back to their center. So I dragged my friend back to the Flower Carpet XD Too bad, it’s dark already *sniffs* but it wouldn’t help much either even if it’s not dark, as my camera finally gave out and died on me xDD *pets the poor thing* The picture on the right was the last shot I took for this trip ^^

end notes: *looks at this long post* Thank goodness I keep the pamphlet and news clips!!! LOL

That evening, we just went straight from the expo to a massage place, and got a full body massage for 2 hours xDDD, went to eat our first real meal of the day, went back to my friend’s place, and passed out. I flew back to Bangkok the next morning. Oh, and my friend went there again with her mum a week later, so she bought me all 5 mascots ^__^ I haven’t taken a picture of them yet. And then In January, 3 or 4 more mascot dolls came out, so she had to go to the expo again to get them for me. *loves her* XDD

Good things about going there at the very beginning of the expo are the place was still clean and all flowers were still fresh LOL My family went there a month later, and lots of these pretty flowers were either dead or replaced by some other tropical flowers already ^^” but the downside is some areas were not fully decorated/constructed. But still, I like my timing ^^

One other thing that annoyed me a lot was tourists who didn’t follow the rules. I mean, whenever they saw the sign ‘Do Not Touch’, they tended to reach out and touch whatever it is right away -___- hello~?!

Anyhow, I hope you enjoy this trip to Chiang Mai with me! ^____^

 

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