This post is about the second half of the cultural excursions on my first day in Thailand. 🙂
Sunday 13th March
We returned to Chiang Mai where we got a quick bite to eat in a local restaurant then set off in the minibus again to an insect then an orchid farm, both on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. The insect farm had a huge array of dead butterflies, beetles, spiders, etcetera displayed in glass cabinets.
The real joy was seeing live butterflies floating round a small enclosed garden and handling stick insects, iguanas, beetle larvae and a scorpion! The latter had had its sting removed so was safe to handle.
We spent an hour there then moved onto the orchid farm. It was a display nursery only, it doesn’t sell stock to the public. It was a sea of colour, there were vandas in every colour imaginable covering two areas of the garden (as well as the odd Cattleya). I’m not a particularly huge fan of this genera, they’re a tad too garish for my liking but I couldn’t help but be impressed with the display.
I found some smaller species mixed in with the real showy ones which was more to my taste! As well as the orchids there was also several beautiful orchid trees, Bauhinia, in flower – this was the first time I had seen them in bloom; it was a memorable moment as I had always wanted to see this species flowering.
Torch gingers (Etlingera elatior), Heliconia, various palms and bamboos were all in the tropical planting too. I bought some excellent souvenirs from the orchid farms’shop, earrings and some scarves, which were all orchid related of course!
The drive to and from our days’ destinations were almost as interesting as the destinations themselves; I loved witnessing massive red and pink Bougainvillea en masse along the roadsides, as prolific as brambles are back home in the UK. Frangipani (Plumeria) trees were also aplenty, it was the first time I had seen them growing outside in a tropical climate.
We met with Peter on our return to the hotel in the evening, who explained we would be doing a short trek tomorrow near the famous mountain an hours drive away. Our first day of hunting orchids in the wild – I couldn’t wait!