Thailand has a very diverse geography, ranging from arid plateaus in the north-east, towering mountains in the north and steamy jungles in the south. This diversity has led to an amazing variety of plants and animals. Travellers to this amazing country can expect some world-class scuba diving, rock climbing, bird watching, flower spotting and trekking, and many vets flock to Thailand to help care for animals in the country’s numerous nature reserves and sanctuaries.
Flowers and plants of Thailand
Thailand boasts more than 27,000 species of flowering plant, everything from bamboo trees to the national flower called Ratchaphruek, or golden shower. The country is also famous for producing and exporting orchids, of which there are over 1,000 species unique to Thailand. There is also the lotus flower, which in Thailand appears in white or pink colours and is very closely associated with the country’s main religion, Buddhism, being a symbol for peace, purity and wisdom. Buddhist legend says that a lotus blossom grew from each of Lord Buddha’s first footsteps as a young child.
There is also the striking red Poinsettia, which although associated with Christianity in the West is still very popular in Thailand, particularly in the north and Chiang Mai. This flower, like the orchid, blooms in the winter providing much needed colour during these dry, colder months. Flowers are an important part of daily life in Thailand and used for cooking, decoration, ceremonies and even in medicine.
Rice is even more important and, as well as being Thailand’s biggest export crop, is also the food that everyone eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Rice also has religious associations and is the usual food offered to the monks when they do their rounds in the early morning to collect sustenance with which to continue their studies and meditations. These offerings are especially important during the harvest season when festivals abound all over the country, just the same as in the West with their Thanksgiving and Harvest festivals.