Royal Flora 2011
December 1, 2011
My morning walks in Chiang Mai take me by the site of the 2006 International Horticultural Exhibition, aka Royal Flora. For the past few months there has been all kinds of activity there with hundreds of gardeners getting the old site spruced up. The Royal Flora redux for 2011 is almost upon us.
Officially known as the International Horticultural Exhibition Royal Flora Rajapruek 2011 it is known by the locals here in Chiang Mai as Puet Suan Lok (World’s Fair of Flowers and Plants) and by most foreigners as the Royal Flora. It runs from 14 December 2011 – 14 March 2012 but if its popularity is anything like the 2006 version they will have to extend it for at least a month or two
The official reason for the exhibition is to celebrate His Majesty the King’s 12th cycle (84 years), Her Majesty the Queen’s 80th birthday, and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince’s 60th birthday. But I think another reason is that they just want to give the Thai people a really good time.
I heard from a number of foreigners that they weren’t that impresses with the last Royal Flora – “It was just flowers and crowds.” But every Thai I heard from absolutely loved it. There is nothing Thais enjoy more than flowers and plants and big noisy crowds. And the Royal Flora had an abundance of each. It attracted over 3 million visitors last time, Thais from all parts of Thailand making up probably 99% of the crowd. They usually came in large groups and families. Attendance had to be limited to only 30,000 people per day and people who didn’t have tickets had to queue up from about 5am to get the few tickets on sale for that day.
This time, as was true last time, there will be exhibits and floral displays from many foreign countries (30 at last count) and lots of corporate sites too. This year I saw them erecting a large Ferris Wheel and other fun stuff, and each evening there will be entertainment and at 8pm a big fireworks display. I watched the fireworks last time from my balcony and after 4 months of fireworks every night the Fourth of July doesn’t do much for me anymore.
Chiang Mai will be packed and the roads will be jammed. But after all the Thais have been through this year they deserve a little fun time. So even though the crowds and noise will be a headache, I am happy that they will have this respite from all the problems of the last year.
Here is a photo gallery of what the last Royal Flora 2006 looked like. From my walks past the latest version it looks like it will be even more spectacular than before. It will probably be even more crowded too judging from what I saw today. This morning I was doing my exercises on top of the hill with the Rajapruek tree (Raja = king or anything royal, Pruek = tree, plant, flora. So Rajapruek literally means the “Royal Flora”). I watched as four huge tour busses pulled up to the entrance and hundreds of tourists piled out running around and taking group pictures as Thais are want to do. There were also lots of other people, family groups, couples, walking around taking pictures and trying to get a peek inside the gates. And the exhibition won’t open for 3 more weeks.
If you are coming to Chiang Mai better have your hotels booked and your tickets bought. Come as early in the morning as you can and one suggestion I have is before coming, stop by one of the local markets and buy some sticky rice and sai ua (Chiang Mai sausage), and some Kap moo (pork rind), and some naam prik ong (a salsa-like dish something like marinara sauce) and have an authentic Chiang Mai style picnic at the Royal Flora. And enjoy.
NFL Football on TV:
Right after I recommended True Vision TV for NFL Football it looks like they dropped the ball and did not renew their contract with the NFL. So, for now, there is no NFL on TV in Thailand. But wait… The torrents that can be downloaded, the ones that carry TV shows and movies, also have NFL games that can be downloaded. They are usually available by Thursday and are in .mkv format, which will show on your PC in HD.
Our Tortoise Sanctuary:
Our tortoise girls have begun laying eggs again and we are hoping for a nice bunch of babies in about 7 months. The Chiang Mai Zoo is preparing to offer us a jungle enclosure on the zoo property as a staging area for the pre-release of the tortoises back into the wild. It will contain our tortoises (Indotestudo Elongata, or yellow tortoise) and the zoo’s (Manouria emys or giant Asiatic black tortoise), both native to Doi Suthep Mountain. The black tortoises are huge weighing up to 25 kilos. So they are giving us a sort of “halfway house” to get them back into Nature. Looking forward to releasing them into a safe area where no one will catch and eat them. Any babies that were born in our garden sanctuary (close to 20 so far) will be kept and not released as we aren’t sure whether they can live on their own, never having been out in the wild world.
Places to retire:
Just saw this link on Facebook, 6 affordable Places to Retire. Seems like I chose the right place.