Sober Days In Thailand – Nong Nooch
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. ”
HD a nice breakfast read! Thanks for helping to start my day off with a laugh.
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The Flower Pot Gardens look incredible. Ok, they are strange, but interesting anyway. And for a country that makes windchimes out of coke cans AND makes them look artistic to boot, cars out of pots must have been a breeze.
Drugging tigers seems to be a favourite pastime of Thais. I’ve been to the Tiger Temple where the help had to hold the tiger’s heads up for photo ops. Sad.
‘I was convinced the orang utan had donned a pair of shorts and joined our tour’
I have days like that. Not often enough as it can be quite fun. But with my increasingly bad eyesight – progressives for the past 15 years or so – it is a given.
Add insomnia on top (a severe lack of sleep makes my world shimmer) and just walking outside for a coffee can be a real trip.
And then there are days like today when I discover Eggos in my freezer. What a surprise. I mean, when was the last time that happened?
Catherine’s last blog post..The Streak-eared Bulbul in Bangkok
I’ve put the Flower Pot Gardens on my ‘must do’ list for this year, for sure.
I agree, losing your eyesight and having to wear lasses can be miserable.
Around 24 years old, when I was working as a draftsman/cartographer, I suffered through terrible eye strain.
I went to a doctor who told me I must wear glasses. Forever. I cried. A dear girlfriend picked out a pair and I hid away for about a year. Ok, the glasses were ugly…
But looking on the bright side, if I had to wear reading glasses instead of full-time, I’d be spending half my day looking for them.
Anyway, Happy Friday and have a great weekend everyone.
Catherine’s last blog post..The Streak-eared Bulbul in Bangkok
Mike – Glad I helped to start your day off well and thanks for the read. It turned into a bit of a long one.
Catherine – The Flower Pot Gardens were something I hadn’t seen before and I wish I could have included more of Wilai’s photos(The Vivitar let me down). Drugging tigers does seem to be a bit of a national sport in Thailand.
I have since bought some reading glasses but I still get a little downbeat sometimes about my eyesight, about five years ago it was perfect and now well….getting old I suppose. Enjoy your day.
Martyn, great tour you took us on , and would love to have seen more of the flower pot garden , guess I’ll just have to do the tour myself , but not until this pif flu season is over , this ole boy is sticking pretty close to home for the time being .
go get yourself a pair of progreeeive lens glasses and you will be in top notch shape as far as close and far go all in one pair and they are nothing like bi- focals that will keep you triping up all the time , I’ve had mine 8 years and love them and just this year got them for Ciejay and she is sooooo happy with them , thanks again for the post and the laugh to start my day . Malcolm
Flobberpop. Maybe the orang utan is the man who worked in the garden? (Showing my age now, anyone who isn’t British and very close to a half century or more won’t have a clue what I’m on about).
That flowerpot display is great, how come I missed that each time I was in Pattaya?
I’m a bit worried about the guy in orange standing behind the elephant. Are you sure it was playing darts?
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Malcolm I went to buy my glasses during the last few days of my holiday and was told that the varifocal lenses I wanted would have to come from Bangkok and would take 5 days to arrive so I settled for reading glasses which is my weaker point.
Catherine the Flower Pot Garden was interesting but I think you would really enjoy the theatre show more, it was impressive stuff. Your Avatar shows that glasses do suit you and many of us blokes find them rather sexy on the right woman.
Pete I remember the show very clearly. It was a big favourite of mine when I was a young kid. The man in orange, I didn’t notice that so well spotted. I see what you mean, the elephant is taking aim but in what direction.
Pete, Flobberpop – now I know a wee bit more about the British… revived in 2000 even…
‘The Flower Pot Men spoke their own, highly inflected version of English, called Oddle Poddle.’
Ah, the complexities of British linguistics 😀
Martyn, your elephant photo brought back quite vivid memories so I left it totally alone (think ‘bad eyesight’ and you’ll see what I mean 😉
Once the glasses went on I could no longer pull off the blond – and trust me, I had it down pat – I was then forced to aim for a more studious outlook instead.
But a plus, the change did upgrade my taste in men. I moved on from the brawn to the brains.
Have a great weekend everyone! Enjoy the sunshine/rain/snow or whatever is happening wherever you are. Looks like a sun/rain combo for me…
Catherine’s last blog post..Let’s Talk Thai: How the Brain Learns
Ok Catherine that last post has completely flummoxed me. It was definitely something to do with elephants, so I think Martyn’s blog is as good a place as any to post this link…
What I want to know is…
Was the lady on the lead elephant thinking:
1) Oh my God they’ll fall off!
2) Oh my God, how shocking!
3) Oh my God why does that never happen to me?!
4) Oh my God, you lucky devil, my turn next!
see the photo
Hands down, it absolutely has to be the overwhelming: ‘Oh my God!’
I think even the most expensive of glasses would steam up glancing back at that elephant. Like Bill and Ben the flower pot men…if the answer is number 4 then she would need a “little weed” to carry out her turn.
Catherine, 😀 great answer. You wicked thing you.
HD back to the Thai boxing, a lot of these bouts are just glorified training sessions, but they can get out of hand. In Chiang Mai farangs can go a round with the boxers for a couple of hundred baht. The Thais usually go very easy on them, but I loved it when one fit-looking giant American, after one Chang too many, started prancing around the ring taking the p.. out of the Muay Thai warm-up ritual. Eventually the little Thai couldn’t take any more. He was about a third of the big guy’s weight, but completely KO’d him. Boy did the farang look stupid…
Great report on a beautiful Thai attraction Martyn.
I’ve been to Nong Nooch several times now and it is definitely a photographers dream. The best part is you can go several times a year as the flowers change.
” 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. ”
Now I have to go clean the coke off my computer screen….thanks for that 🙂
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Pete I have seen a little bit of Thai boxing in Pattaya a few years before but never the falang getting in the ring scenario. I’ve heard they nearly always get a good hiding and I would like to see that.
Talen I will certainly return to Nong Nooch because there’s so much I didn’t have time to see. I know Wilai will want to go back and see the gardens and flowers next time. Nong Nooch is a good example of Pattaya having a lot more to offer than people realize.