Did I tell you that Thailand is a beautiful country? You have already met some of the beautiful people (Acharn Rawudh, Kuhn Saisudah, Nutda Neale, and the Sa’adprai family), but beyond the people and their amazing history, Thailand is a lush tropical paradise that has caught the attention of many foreigners who, like Jack Neale, choose to make it their home. Coming back to it after years away, I find myself constantly amazed at the lushness, the vibrant colors, and the variety of flowers that exist everywhere. No wonder butterflies like it here!
This year, the rains never stopped, so the hot season was much cooler than normal, rivers are full to overflowing with water, and low-lying areas are swampy. The rainy season begins next month and everyone is wondering what that means. However, the past two years, there have not been enough rains, and parts of Thailand are experiencing drought. On the other hand, incredible rains have also brought major flooding in the south, so the climate here is no longer as predictable as it once was. I caught this photo of an overflowing river in the mountains near Lampang from the window of the train on our trip to Chiangmai.
All this rain creates the ideal environment for stunningly beautiful flowers. My favorite – as I mentioned in an earlier post – is what I call the Flame Tree, with its immense canopy of red-orange blossoms. The Thai call this tree “hahng nohk yoong,” or the Peacock’s Tail, because it is so colorful. The trees are so tall that you can catch glimpses of the flashy red-orange blossoms wherever you are in Chiangmai – and in most places in Bangkok, as well. I can see some from where I am sitting in Jack and Nutda’s home in Bahn Den. It is not just that the blossoms are so beautiful, but that they are so densely packed on the tree.
Plumeria have to be the second favorite flowering tree in Thailand for me. The creamy white blossoms with their bright yellow centers have a wonderful fragrance that fills any space in which these flowers might be found. One plumeria tree can fill an entire yard with its fragrance. Yes, these are the flowers that Hawaiian women have worn tucked into their hair for generations. The Thai people string them onto leis. The compound of First Church in Chiangmai has so many of these trees that blossoms lie strewn on the ground and their perfume surrounds worshipers on Sunday morning. Yes, one could wax poetic about these blossoms (or maybe it’s just me) and I definitely want one of these trees in my yard when I grow up. I remain constantly amazed at the variety of plants and flowers that God has created and allows us to enjoy each day.
Other amazing flowers: