At the spur of the moment, I decided on Sunday to visit this year's Penang Floral Festival at the Botanical Gardens, right after the conclusion of the Penang Heritage City international chess championship in downtown George Town. Initially, I was a little apprehensive about travelling along this part of Western Road. It's never easy to travel here whenever there are functions at the Botanical Gardens or religious activities at the nearby Indian temples. I wasn't wrong. The jam began soon after the Western Road/Gottlieb Road traffic lights and I decided to park at the Youth Park exit's car park. But already it was almost full of cars and outstation buses. Seemed as if outstation tourists were flocking to the Gardens as well.
I've never been too keen about the Tourism Ministry's ill-conceived expansion plans for the Botanical Gardens because it meant the clearing of so much greenery. The Penang Rifle Club's building is now in full sight of anyone visiting the Gardens. And without the foliage to act as a natural buffer between the club and the Gardens, the noise from the club members' activities jar the tranquility of the place.
Last Sunday at the Penang Floral Festival, it was clear that the organisers of this event had failed to meet up with the management committee of the rifle club to work out a compromise for the week. Or maybe the organisers did but the compromise did not happen. Or maybe the rifle club's management just couldn't care less. I'm saying this because right through my visit to the Gardens, their members were merrily practising away with rapturous abandonment, simply being insensitive to the fact that the firing of the guns were creating a huge disturbance for the Festival's visitors. How would you like to have rifles firing away in close proximity to you? The rifle club could have been more graceful by suspending their activities for a week while this flower fair was going on.
When I was showing some of the early snapshots to my wife last night, her first comment was why I kept photographing the same old flowers. You have taken them so many times before, she said and added that they all looked the same to her.
Wait, I told her, there are more to the flower fest than these common orchids. These early pictures I was showing her were taken at the commercial section of the festival. The commercial orchid growers were trying to sell off their plants. My later pictures would show her some of the winning plants and flowers. So here they are, some of the winning orchids and bonsai.
First, here are the leafy bonsai plants. Magnificent miniature trees.
Impressive? Then there are the leafless bonsai plants. Positively creepy. I don't know how they got this way but it's quite obvious that these are not dead plants. Not yet, anyway.... :-)
And now to the orchid section. These are but a small selection of the best orchids on display. Of course, I only photographed what impressed me and ths one certainly did. My own plant, bought some two years ago, still hangs forlornly in the driveway, leafing but with no flowers in sight and here, this one is showing off its magnificent blooms. Sigh...
Seen enough? If not, why not make a beeline to the festival itself? It's open until Sunday.