When Wonderful Wi suggested we visit Nong Nooch Botanical and Tropical Gardens it took me by surprise. There I was in Pattaya the sex capital of the world, over 2000 bars, beautiful women and I was being asked to wade through pansies and pose with a rose and have it captured forever on film. So of course I said yes.
The brochure said Paradise on Earth and continued On this piece of verdant land spanning about 652 acres, is located an exceptional tropical gardens & Resort where tremendous varieties of plants featuring rare exotic Palms, Cycads, Trees, shrubs vines collected from all over the world, are planted around our gardens. All are just waiting for you to come and enjoy. I took off my Crewe Alexandra football shirt and replaced it with a more sombre affair, we then set off for Nong Nooch.
Our 600 baht tour tickets included a baht bus ride to Jomtien where we joined the coach party for the short journey to Nong Nooch. Our Thai tour guide spoke excellent English and on route he explained a little about the history of the tropical gardens.
Nong Nooch (beautiful young lady) Tansacha and her husband Pisit originally bought the large plot of land over 50 years ago to develop as a fruit plantation but instead turned it into a wildlife and plant conservation park. The park has been open since 1980 and boasts Resort accommodation, an education centre and conference rooms.
Nong Nooch has elephant rides, paddle boats and you can also stroll along a skywalk overlooking beautiful gardens but none of these were on our afternoon itinerary. A Thai dancing performance, Thai boxing and an elephant show were, plus a little entertainment of my own.
One of the male members of our coach party had turned up in three quarter length shorts which swallowed up his rather short legs and I was determined to get a shot from my camera of this rather rotund chap, whose fashion statement was a weak chic and a catwalk waddle. Wilai was beaming with excitement as we disembarked the aging coach, I merely kissed my Vivtar 8010 camera and wished it luck.
The Flower Pot Gardens
Our first port of call was a half of an hour look around the Flower Pot Gardens and the amazing assorted collection of modern art and themes all constructed from flower pots and set in lovely garden surrounds.
There was also a heavily sedated tiger (top photo), leopard, orang utan and the occasional elephant passing through. Wilai enjoyed it but I spent most of the time following a plump gentleman around and deleting blurry photos from my camera. Come on Vivitar, you can do it.
After our allotted 30 minutes expired our excellent and ever helpful tour guide spent another 15 minutes rounding up his motley collection of cosmopolitan camera clicking tourists and we set off on foot to the Nong Nooch Theatre.
We passed through a picnic area and more manicured gardens and at one point my weak short vision looked ahead to the front of our party and I was convinced the orang utan had donned a pair of shorts and joined our tour. Cheeky bugger. No, it was the rather plump chap waddling away at the head of our crew. Click, click, click, delete, delete, delete. Bastard I’ll get you before the day’s finished if it’s the last thing I bloody well do.
Thai Cultural Performances and Thai Boxing
The dimly lit theatre was constructed entirely from wood so I slid my cigarettes deep into my pocket and with the only light seemingly emanating from Wilai’s beaming white teeth I settled back and waited for the show. My Vivitar stood no chance in this bleak lighting, Mission Three Quarter Length would have to wait.
The show was brilliant. Superbly choreographed dancing in elegant costumes set to events in Siam of old. My favourite was the presentation of the battle for Ayutthaya and as the Thai and Burmese forces clashed on the theatre stage, warriors on elephants entered the arena and fought out scenes from the eighteenth century battle for control of Thailand’s former capital city.
The Thai boxing was an entertaining affair with the one bout fought out before a spellbound packed theatre audience. The action looked a little rough and ready at times, but I had the impression that like the dancing it was a well stage managed affair. If you ever visit Nong Nooch then make sure you view the Cultural Dance Show because it really was an imaginitive 45 minute show that was entertaining throughout.
The Elephant Show
A short walk took us to the Elephant Arena and a show that had me spellbound throughout. The elephants rode bicycles, played football, ten pin bowling, painted pictures and as the photograph on the right shows, played darts. The elephant in the picture actually hit the balloon dartboard on a couple of occasions.The 45 minute or so elephant show was the icing on the cake for me and the 600 baht a ticket tour package proved to be full value for money.
Nong Nooch has over 500 acres of gardens making the Resort accommodation a good idea if you wanted to view the whole of this magnificent piece of paradise on earth over a full two days. We were left with another 30 minutes of free time before the coach was due to leave and after a quick Thai meal we viewed many of the birds and butterflies on show.
Nong Nooch Tropical and Botanical Gardens proved to be a very good sober day out for me and if you’re thinking that I forgot about Mission Three Quarter Length then you’d be wrong. The photo below looks more like the fashion guru is wearing training bottoms but trust me they were shorts. When the boy in blue stood fully upright they danced around his ankles and I never did find out what was in the carrier bag, even now I still wonder about what dark secrets it contained.
My Thai language skills are not good to say the least but I swear as we were about to leave Nong Nooch I heard our tour guide say to the coach driver ” All 25 are aboard, lets head back to Jomtien and christ knows where he got those shorts from but drop the orang utan off at the gatehouse. ”
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