Written by Jessica Blosberg, University of Minnesota
Happy New Year’s Eve! Today’s adventures took us to the Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden. To start the day, we were given a tour of the museum dedicated to the gardens. While there, we learned about the botanical gardens, but also about Thailand’s plant and social history related to nature. After our tour, we loaded up into the vans and went for lunch near the souvenir shop and greenhouses. Lunch was an array of foods that most of us had never seen before! There was a kind of sausage, some cooked chicken, pork wrapped in bamboo leaves, hard-boiled egg kabobs, and sticky rice. We were each able to easily get lunch for less than $3!
The Queen’s Rose Garden and large greenhouse came next. We walked amongst the beautiful roses, seeing many species I did had not seen before. The path led us to the large greenhouse next. Inside, the first section is all about arid plants. Further along, a walkway spirals up the edge of a different room until visitors are at eye level with some of the tops of the plants and a giant waterfall. Finishing this portion of the tour led to us loading up in the vans again and heading to a different part of the grounds for a canopy tour.
The walkway for the canopy tour is brand new – it was just finished last month! As we walked 5 stories above the rainforest floor, we took many, many pictures of the plants, each other, and the walkway. We walked on metal grates, but there were also glass panels that we could stand on and see the ground many feet beneath us. As we neared the end of the walkway, we were told that only 7 of us could stand on the platform at a time. After waiting in line for a little bit, small groups of us were able to walk over and see the view of the valley. It was beautiful, and we could see so far!
After finishing the canopy tour, our group split to do a few different things in the garden area for the next hour. I chose to go back to the greenhouses and explore the ones I had not yet seen. Each greenhouse holds different types of plants – orchids, aquatic plants, lilies, grasses, arid climate plants, and more! The Queen’s Gardens were definitely gorgeous, and I think we all had a good time seeing plants we are unfamiliar with, as well as learning about what is common in Thailand.
Tonight’s adventures are going to be something new! We are ringing in the new year at our hotel in Chiang Mai. To build up to midnight, we will be attending a dinner and gala, with dance performances at some point. Looking out of my window, I can see the courtyard we will be in. It’s exciting to see everyone setting up for it! There are so many different colors! For those of you back in the US, I am sure many of you will be hearing “Happy New Year” from us when it is still new year’s eve for you. By the time it is your new year, we will be halfway through our first day of 2016! Thank you to everyone who has been a part of making this year great, and these global fellows trips happen. Happy new year to all! We’ll see you next year!