The Rajapruek Royal Park International Floral Festival has been going on since mid-December, but I only dragged myself out there a few days before my sister, Carol, left to go back to her home in Seattle. In reality, the Festival was supposed to begin in mid-November and run through mid-February, but because of the “Great Flood,” everything was pushed back one month – which was not good news for the flowers. In November, the cool season has just begun and the ground is still saturated from the rains, but by March, much warmer temperatures are normal and, after four months with little or no rain, the ground moisture is gone and it is hard to keep the flowers looking their spritely best.
The first International Floral Festival was held several years ago to celebrate the King’s 60th year on the throne. It was a wild success, with many, many countries participating in the display of flowers and the floral competitions. This year, it had a rough start, but there were still plenty of countries who participated and competed. Most people I spoke to also enjoyed spending the day wandering among the manicured lawns, beautiful flowers, and exhibits. Carol and I went on a rather warm afternoon when local farmers had begun burning the rice fields, so the sky was hazy and many of the exhibits were past their prime. After all, the show closes next week – a month behind schedule.
We both headed to the Orchid Pavilion, for we knew that exhibit would be one of the finest in the Park – and we were right! What we weren’t prepared for was the sheet abundance of orchids that we saw. The place overflowed with all varieties in lush exhibits. People were shooting photographs of family members (as I did, obviously) in front of every possible shape and color of this unique flower. There were tiny orchids the size of pennies and the huge orchids the size of a man’s hand, as well as every size in between. There were orchids that were very familiar to me and there were orchids that I had never seen before in my life. Even though I grew up here and have seen orchids of many different varieties, it was almost surreal to be so totally surrounded by so many different shapes and colors of orchids in such a great abundance.
The huge orchids that were the size of a man’s hand and yet so very delicate were the undisputed queens of the show – in my humble opinion. They came in almost every color imaginable and just took our breath away. While there were signs everywhere telling us not to touch anything, there was nothing to prevent us from getting “up close and personal” to take a look and breath the fragrance of these wonderful flowers.
More unusual were the orchids that were so tiny that an entire cluster of them were the size of a “normal” flower. Some grew in long clumps and some in perfect round balls. There were orchids that were speckled and others looked like they had freckles. There were orchids that were all one color, some that were half one color and half another, and some had petals of one color and a “heart” of another contrasting color. Some looked like Jack-in-the-pulpit flowers. Some looked like Mardi Gras dancers. Some were striped. Others were pure white. Carol and I wandered in among the orchids for barely an hour, taking photographs and commenting on what we saw in just this one exhibit. We knew we still had another 22 acres of flowers to see. But then, a call from home drew us away unexpectedly. Still, it was good to go, for I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. I had definitely OD’d on orchids that day and came away amazed at what God could do with just one type of flower. For just a small taste of what we saw, take a look at some of these thumbnail photos below: