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Plantgasm - I love plants too much. By Derek Powazek.

Plantgasm is Going to Thailand, Let’s Play a Game

Thai Garuda emblemI am going to Thailand. For 10 days. Starting today.

I know, I can’t believe it either.

I’ve been invited on a press tour along with, and because of, Gayla Trail, who recommended me. I’ll be joining her, her husband Davin, and seven other esteemed garden writers of note. Please, nobody tell them they’ve let an amateur gardener and professional dork into their midst.

This is a press tour, which means they’re going to show us around and we’re going to write about it. I’ll be writing here as energy and internet allows (and, of course, I’m open to writing for other media organizations – contact me at fraying at the gmails if you’re interested). I’ll also try to organize a self-published magazine after the tour with contributions from the participants.

It also means I’m going to be a leaf in the river, not really in control of my destiny. I know we’re going to Bangkok, Pattaya, Rayong, and Chiang Mai. I know we’re going to see palaces, gardens, and markets. And I know that it’s Songkran, which means someone is going to dump water on me at some point, and I’m cool with that.

I’m nervous and excited and totally honored to be going on this trip. As readers of this site know, I have a major thing for tropical plants, especially Thailand. Most of the plants in my house would be far happier in Thailand than San Francisco. I can probably name more tropical plants than ones that grow in Golden Gate Park. Going to Thailand is like a pilgrimage to the homeland of my favorite plants. This trip is literally the opportunity of a lifetime.

I want to share my good fortune with you. So let’s play a game! Leave a comment with a photographic challenge and I’ll do my best to find and photograph it in Thailand. The challenges can be something you know is in Thailand (“a blue tuk tuk”) or something that you personally want to see. My challenge to myself is: Photograph the biggest Alocasia you can find.

What would you like me to take a photo of in Thailand? Tell me and I’ll do my best to catch it. And be sure to describe it so I know what to look for. You can follow my progress in my Flickr photos and Twitter tweets.

See Also

21 Responses

A macro photo of an insect on some sort of green tropical leaf. Good luck!

Posted by tomcosgrave on 5 April 2011 @ 1am

A fresh lotus pod (I love their alien-ness).
But what I really want to see is “self-portrait while eating durian”!

Posted by Kate Andrews on 5 April 2011 @ 2am

I don’t want to make it too difficult so how about Telosma cordata?

The rosy/violet-scented flowers are added to soups and other food.

Posted by Pat on 5 April 2011 @ 2am

your face when you smell durian for the first time. seriously. does any other plant smell worse other than the corpse flower?

Posted by lia on 5 April 2011 @ 4am

Ha. The corpse flower was going to be my suggestion:

Posted by joel on 5 April 2011 @ 6am


Make sure to take some photos of Aglaonemas there – and not just the colorful Thai hybrids – but the natural species, too! And if you can, bring several home with you! :)

Posted by Zach on 5 April 2011 @ 6am

Take a photo of a Monkey.

One of my favourite moments of my asia trip happened when we were walking up to the KL Tower. There was a fence with barbed wire with monkeys running along the top. I thought we were next to a zoo and then had a moment of realization that they were wild monkeys:

Posted by Heather on 5 April 2011 @ 9am

Excellent idea Derek, this should be a fun challenge. Here’s mine:

A lone tree — without cropping.

Posted by Dave Rau on 5 April 2011 @ 9am

Something carnivorous that does not grow on the ground. Do they have Nepenthes?

Posted by Diane on 5 April 2011 @ 9am

Lol! Yes! Please take a picture of the BUSIEST street in Bkk’s Chinatown AND the scooter carrying the biggest load (people/rice/pig). Oh, the markets! You are going to just die.

Posted by Julia on 5 April 2011 @ 9am

water plants! preferably with octopus or squid interaction . . . but crazy amazing water gardens and those kinda things will do fine. does your camera go underwater?

Posted by agentfin on 5 April 2011 @ 10am

I was gonna say the Rafflesia, but since people have already suggested that, how about a simple fern growing from a Buddha statue?

Posted by Thiago on 5 April 2011 @ 10am

I love their beautiful garlands “Phuang Malai”. Can you take some photos of those, please?

Posted by Jun on 5 April 2011 @ 11am

A press trip may not allow for it, but I always love to see more photos of the orchids at Jim Thompson’s house (in Bangkok); really amazing combination of architecture and gardens. Also the Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden outside of Chiang Mai makes for some great photos. And, I don’t remember the name of it, but there’s a butterfly farm on the way to the Botanical Gardens that’s well worth a visit too — macro lens heaven.

Thompson’s house you can do in an hour of free time, the Botanic garden is more of a day trip, probably hard to do with other people setting the schedule.

But those were the highlights of my plant excursions in Thailand

Posted by Scott Gilbertson on 5 April 2011 @ 11am

One of the highlights of a trip I did in ’05 was the Sai Nam Phung Orchid Nursery and Butterfly Farm just outside Chiang Mai … a bit of a ramshackle and run down affair when I visited but there’s some amazing stuff to snap including orchids that look remarkably like insanely smiley anime parachuting aliens and some crazy bugs. I’ve put a few of my amateurish snaps here by way of reference…

Posted by Toby on 5 April 2011 @ 2pm

A picture of yourself enjoying Tom Yum Goong and any curry dish under the trees of the ubiquitous Mango Tree restaurant.

Extra challenge: Work the water feature into the picture.


Posted by Bom on 5 April 2011 @ 6pm

Enjoy! I hope you have a safe trip, stay, and return home! Looking forward to all your photos and updates!

I used to be heavily into fish and aquariums. I’d like to see a photo of some Asian arowanas as they are illegal to have here Stateside. I’ve always wanted one!

Posted by Rob on 5 April 2011 @ 6pm

I have two:

1) A Mirror Shot with all 3 of you in it; and
2) When you’re in a place that’s so amazing, that you turn around and take a photograph of something behind you. You taught me that a long time ago and it’s one of my favorite tricks; and
3) If you guys can get to the Thai Monk Tiger Sanctuary, a little ROWR would be awesome.

Oops, that’s 3. Mostly, I just want you to all be safe and have fun, looking forward to reading and seeing photos of your adventure!

Posted by myla kent on 5 April 2011 @ 9pm

The biggest alocasia – I’m sure that’s going to be awesome!
When I was in vietnam we saw these things called “water coconuts”
I have looked everywhere to try and figure out it’s “real name”, perhaps someone in Thailand can shed light on this…
here’s a picture I took in 2007

Posted by ellieT on 7 April 2011 @ 8am

Hi and that is so cool you are in Thailand! Congrats and can’t wait to hear more. I heard that they serve a lot of soft drinks and teas in plastic bags for on the go. You hold it by the straps insert a straw and off you go. That would make an interesting picture. They also serve ice in beer because it is so hot there! Have fun!

Posted by Candy Suter on 7 April 2011 @ 11pm

i’d love to hear your garden experiences as i’m about to MOVE to thailand in 25 days. i’m looking forward to tropical plants becoming far easier

ps- just found you via offbeat home

Posted by mariegael on 3 May 2011 @ 5am


Plantgasm is where Derek Powazek chronicles his botanical antics and misadventures. More.