May, 2010

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Nong Nooch Tropical Garden – Pattaya 2010

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

© 2010 Thomas Straehle – TEAM SIAMPEDIA

 

One of the well known tourist attractions near Pattaya is the Nong Nooch Tropical Garden. According to their own publications, its history goes back to the year 1954, when Pisit Tansacha and his wife Nong Nooch bought approximately 600 acres of land in the undeveloped hills near kilometer marker 163 on Sukhumvit road in Sattahip, Chonburi province. The land was anticipated to be developed into a fruit plantation, but during a trip abroad Mrs. Nong Nooch was inspired by the beauty of visited parks and gardens and so the decision was made to turn the land into a tropical garden. Since the year 1980 it is open to the public. First there was only the tropical garden, which was improved every year. In the following years a Thai style stage show and an elephant show were added. Up to 2.000 visitors daily in peak times go through the gates. Unlike many attractions in the area, this one received constant upgrades and maintenance throughout the years. Decay and deterioration did obviously not rain down on this park and it keeps a good reputation with returning visitors.

Upon entering the large area, the first attraction visitors get to see is the pottery garden. Thousands of clay pots have been put into different shapes, arches and bows – like a Tuk Tuk shaped sculpture and elephant statues.

Elephants cut out of massive granite-like stone blocks greet the visitors

Ordinary clay pots in every shape and size have been arranged here in a multitude of objects.

Orchids and other tropical flowers are especially nice to look at, after a little rain shower.

The park can be explored afoot, but there are also shuttle buses around the park for the elderly, lazy or handicapped visitors available.

 

Statues of various origin and shapes can be found all over the park in different settings. Many are exotic religious or cultural artefacts.

Big areas of the park have been inspired by the setup of famous European gardens. Here´s the Butterfly Hill (near the Show Theater)

Landscaping in Thailand is very resourceful and showcased here in a photogenic setup.

One of the big touristic attractions of Nong Nooch is the so called “Thai Cultural Show”. Different local dances from and all over Asia are shown in a modern –  show theater.  A resemblance to the Apsara dancers of the ancient Cambodian empire (Angkorian period) cannot be denied. Costumes, moves and musical interpretations bear quite a lot of similarities. This dances are all a choreographed version of the originals for this show. There is also a show and demonstration of Thai Boxing, sword fighting and elephants in full war gear are on exhibit from various wars against neighboring countries to appeal to the crowds. The costume & dance show lasts about 30 minutes and starts at  9:45 am / 10:45 am 3:00 pm / 4:00 pm. The elephant show always starts right after the end of the staged show and the duration of it lasts for another 30 min. All around the park area, visitors can find refreshment stations to buy soft drinks or ice cream at a price of 25-40 Baht. Street prices locally are about 50 % of that, but I consider such mark-up within acceptable limits for a tourist attraction. Well maintained and attended restrooms are also widely available in several locations within the parks area.

The staged show features several dance-performances by a large troupe and is basically identical to what other Thai tourist attractions feature as a ‘Cultural Show’. A lot of ‘Wow’ and ‘Oha’ elements are implemented to keep the crowds happy and entertained. It is indeed entertaining and the first timers to the Kingdom really do believe, that this has something to do with a traditional culture. See it as entertainment for tourists and you won’t be disappointed. Too much of the so called ‘Thai culture’ elements are borrowed from others and just arranged new for the visitors. There is little proof for elements, which refer or relate to a genuine indigenous culture of the Siamese Kingdom or its predecessors. Religion was introduced from India (Buddhism), but animalistic sidelines may have their roots locally. See for yourself, we have prepared a video for you to view such a show in a short video:

The attraction most kids find memorable is the Nong Nooch Elephant Show. The elephants are doing circus-like tricks like painting, playing with a basketball, trying out their soccer-skills or even giving a careful pachyderm-massage. Quite interesting for first-time visitors to Thailand.

Just over 19 Kilometers separate the park area from downtown Pattaya, take the chronically congested Sukhumvit Road in a southerly direction, until you reach Kilometer marker 163, the entrance and ticket gates are on the left hand side. The park offers a tourist pickup from any Pattaya hotel for a charge of 600 Baht. Children pay 300 Baht. Unfortunately, their tour timing rushes things a lot, as the pickup time allows only for a half-day visit to the park. It is an advantage to come here by your own transportation or with any of the white colored songtheauws (Baht-buses), which ply the route from Si Racha to Sattahip along Sukhumvit Road (passes through Pattaya). The 10 Baht for the open bus enables the visitors to get tickets at the reduced regular prices right at the gate. Overnight accommodation has recently been added to the attraction, there are also plenty of restaurants and snackerias within Nong Nooch.

The Pictures were all taken during a short field trip by the SIAMPEDIA Team in April of 2010