Houston Community News >> Japan Wins Landscape Gardening Contest

11/1/2006- Chiang Mai Japan won the first prize for its large-scale landscape gardening at the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek 2006, which was declared open yesterday with around 35,000 local and foreign visitors flocking to the event.

The opening ceremony was presided over by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who spent hours viewing an array of international floral displays around the 470-rai (80-hectare) venue in tambon Mae Hia of Chiang Mai's Muang district. The expo comprises over 3.4 million trees from 35 countries.

Weerachai na Nakorn, director of the Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden and also chairman of the judging panel, said Japan's "Garden of Luck" won the first prize in the category of above-1,000-sq m garden, which saw 23 countries in the contest.

The second prize went to the tulip field in a postcard-shaped garden arranged by the Netherlands, and the Chinese garden grabbed the third prize. In the category of small-scale gardening, Belgium defeated all other competitors with its coiled shell-shaped garden filled with local flowers.

Japan also won another first prize in the category of indoor gardening, followed by Brunei and Sudan. The expo will run until the end of January next year. Officials expect the venue to be overrun by visitors during long weekends.

First-day visitors yesterday faced a series of minor problems in terms of inadequate facilities. However, traffic jams the organizers' main worry were not as bad as they had feared.

Since early yesterday morning, large crowds formed long queues to buy tickets to get inside the expo, including teachers who traveled all the way from Narathiwat."We have long planned to come to this event since we first learned about it," said Kittikorn Yanphakdee, a teacher from Ban Khok Ta School in Sungai Padi district of the southern border province.

Organizers said 30,000 people had reserved their tickets for the first-day visit. Only about 10,000 tickets were available for walk-in visitors. Visitors had to compete for shuttle-trailer seats, causing chaos that disrupted the service temporarily. Some visitors complained they had to wait for hours and finally decided to walk.

An expo official in charge of the shuttle service said the organizers could not bring in more trailers to serve the crowds for fear it would cause inconvenience for those who wanted to enjoy sightseeing on foot.

Many complained that food and beverages were hard to find at the expo, as well as being pricey. A cup of coffee cost 60 baht and a small single dish was priced at 30 baht and up, they said.

(Contributed by Bankok Post)